Every January, thousands of Americans hit the gym with a new resolve to slim down for the new year. But gym memberships can be pricey, and despite good intentions, many go unused. If you’re planning to hit the gym this year, here are some tips that will help you stick with it and save you some money:
- Look for daily deals. Gym membership and exercise class discounts of up to 50% are offered year-round on major daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social. Most local Living on the Cheap sites have a Daily Deals page where you can quickly search for local discounts.
- Try before you buy. Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness both offer new customers a free 7-day pass, so you can check out the equipment and see if you think you’ll use the gym regularly if you sign up for a full membership. (Hint: Of you don’t go more than twice during your trial week, you’re probably not ready for a gym membership). Other gyms may also offer a free day or more to try out the facilities.
- Consider buying your own equipment. Some people like going to the gym, but I find it tedious. It’s much easier for me to hop on the treadmill at home and watch TV while I work out. And buying your own equipment can be cheaper in the long run if you’re going to use it. The price of a gym membership varies by location, but at $40 a month, your membership will cost you $480 each year. You can buy a decent treadmill, elliptical or exercise bike that will last for several years for around $600 (or less). For upper body strength, you can buy 5 pound hand weights at Walmart for around $7 each.
- Exercise for free. Walking is a great form of aerobic exercise that won’t cost you a thing. When the weather is bad, hit the mall. Push-ups are good for strength training, but for optimal results do real push-ups (instead of knee push-ups), even if you can only do a few at first.
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