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6 Frugal Alternatives to Gym Memberships

Friday, January 20, 2017   (0 Comments)
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USnews.com 01/20/17

 

As we enter the third week of the new year, many Americans may find their enthusiasm for resolutions starting to wane. Among the most popular annual goals is the commitment to lose weight and get fit, which results in a surge of gym membership sign-ups in January.

However, the financial incentive for losing weight is not as motivating as resolution-makers expect, with many people paying monthly dues for a facility they never use. What's more, there are many hidden costs of gym memberships consumers may not be considering which further drive up costs.

To maintain your fitness goals without the expense of a monthly gym membership, consider these six frugal alternatives for a healthy 2017.

YouTube. The most cost-effective exercise program is free, and YouTube offers an assortment of free workout videos for a range of activities, including yoga, cardio, strength training and more. In addition to the price tag (or lack thereof), YouTube videos are great for people who want to keep up their regimens while on the road. Most of these videos are easily conducted in your living room (or hotel room) with minimal equipment.

Streaming. YouTube videos are great if you know what you're looking for, but some people require more structure and personalization offered by streaming fitness services. FitnessBlender.com is a site offering more than 500 free workout videos for a variety of fitness levels, ranging from 10-minute to 85-minute videos. Workout programs and nutritional guidance are also available from the site, created and managed by a pair of personal trainers. Daily Burn is a fee-based streaming service that builds a personalized plan based on your goals, and features over 500 videos and 20 programs. At $14.95 per month, Daily Burn is less expensive than a typical gym membership, and offers a 30-day free trial for first-time users.

ClassPass. Specialty fitness programs, including yoga, cycling and boot camps, can cost upwards of $40 per class, making them cost prohibitive for some users. ClassPass cuts the cost of these classes without limiting you to one activity, and has three plan options based on your needs and budget. In Las Vegas, for example, the Go pass offers three classes for $30. The Base plan is five classes for $45 per month. The Core plan is 10 classes per month for $79. In addition to specialty classes, you can opt to reserve "gym time" and visit a participating gym for access to their facility. ClassPass is limited to urban metro areas in the country, so this is only an option if you live in one of 39 cities including Denver, District of Columbia, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

Daily Deals. Scan your Groupon feed and you likely see plenty of deals related to fitness and health. As always, it's important to read the fine print before you buy a voucher, but ultimately daily deals are a great way to experience a new exercise or gym without overcommitting yourself. These deals often offer tiered packages, so you have flexibility in the number of classes you want to try. Research the facility before you buy, paying close attention to user reviews, location and scheduling.

Punch Passes. Depending on your fitness preference, facilities specializing in yoga, barre, CrossFit and others can be the best use of your dollars. However, membership prices for these studios can cost as much, if not more, than gym memberships. Punch passes, when offered, are typically a more cost-effective option since you pay a flat rate for each class and often pay less than the drop-in rates.

Before you sign up for exercise-specific memberships, consider the specialized equipment (and related cost) you may need to perform your best. Cycling clubs require special shoes, which are often included in your membership or available for rent. Some yoga studios provide mats, props and towels for practitioners, while others require you to bring these items yourself.

Apps. Free and fee-based apps are another alternative to gym memberships, providing workouts from your smartphone. People who want to start a running habit have likely heard of Couch to 5K, a fitness app that promises users the ability to run a 5-kilometer race after following the gradual program, which alternates walking and running at first. For motivation of a more macabre nature, check out the Zombies, Run app, an audiobook-immersive game hybrid that motivates you to run through storytelling, injecting the advancing snarls of the undead between your favorite running tunes.

As with any app, beware the in-app purchase options and make sure the money you do spend directly enhances or improves progress toward your fitness and health goals. 


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