Don’t Break the Bank Getting in Shape

An excuse I often hear from people about why they can’t lose weight is that they are broke. They can’t afford a gym membership, so they don’t make healthy choices. It doesn’t have to be that way!

You don’t have to spend a lot of money getting fit. Here are some alternatives and ways to save money:

Fitness DVDs

You don’t have to drop $20 on a new fitness DVD. The library offers a lot of DVDs and that’s free. Not only that, if you belong to Netflix check out their selection of workout DVDs. You can watch them Instantly or on disc.

Discount Workout Clothes

If you haven’t explored stores like Ross, Marshall’s or Burlington Coat Factory I really recommend it. They all have sections of workout clothes and depending on the selections you can often get great finds! Many of my workout shirts came from Ross and I spent less than $15 on them.

Explore Nature

If you can’t afford an expensive gym membership, try moving your workout outside. There’s a million ways to get fit without spending money. Running can be done anywhere. Same with cycling. One tip: find a local high school track and run the track. They often times have stadium seating as well; run the stairs. If you don’t like running, do traveling lunges around the track. You’ll feel the burn immediately.

Hiking is an awesome workout. And it’s a workout that doesn’t feel like it’s a chore because you’re out in nature, exploring and seeing new sights.

Community Centers

When I first started my journey to lose weight, I worked out at the nearby community center. They had a good pool, classes, a small gym and a basketball court. Granted, I had to share the pool with water aerobics, swimming lessons, family swim time, etc. It was always pretty crowded. But it was cheap!

Mt. Scott Pool

Costco Deals

When it was time to upgrade from the Community Center pool to a real gym membership I checked out the Coscto deals that were available. There was a stellar membership offer for 24hr Fitness that I am lucky I got. It was a 2 year membership for like $300. If you break that down it’s like $12 a month! There’s no way a gym would normally offer that special. I scored.

Running Clubs

The local running store in Portland (Foot Traffic) hosts free daily group runs. They have different times and different locations where they meet. It’s a fantastic idea to get in a workout, meet new people, and discover the city.

Share Music

I’m the type of person that needs music while I workout. When running I need fast-paced, upbeat music to keep me motivated when the run gets hard. Instead of spending a ton of money on iTunes downloads, try borrowing CDs from a friend and building your own library. Another tip: Pandora is free. You can create your own radio stations and mix it up when you get bored with your play-lists.

Take a Class

If you belong to a gym already, utilize the classes they offer to members. They’re often free. If you don’t belong to a gym, check out the local Community College. They offer cheaper classes than a studio. Another option is to scour the local studios for deals. Many places offer introductory rates for new members.

One of my readers recently recommended this yoga studio: Hot Yoga for Life. They offer a “10 class for $10” deal. The only catch is I would have to take all 10 classes within 21 days of purchasing it. Not too bad if you ask me! I’m definitely going to check it out.

Jump Rope

Looking for a non-gym workout that will kick your BUTT? Try a jump rope. A jump rope costs less than $5. And if you aren’t out of breath and sweating after 5 solid minutes of a jump rope, you’re doing it wrong! It kicks my butt every time.


It’s a sad fact that a lot of people don’t stick with fitness routines. It’s a normal occurrence and nothing to be ashamed of–but if you’re REALLY serious about changing your lifestyle you MUST be dedicated to working out. And nothing says you can’t take advantage of other people’s lack of motivation. Try searching Craiglist for workout equipment. You will often find treadmills, bike trainers, exercise bikes and free weights for super cheap.

QUESTION: What are some tips you have for saving money while getting fit?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

15 thoughts on “Don’t Break the Bank Getting in Shape”

  1. I loved all your tips – I do know people who really can’t spare a dime, so I think DVDs are a great way or even going to the local library with free internet, browsing youtube and finding exercises you can do at home (write them down – low tech right).

    Also, if you can’t work out too much, then work on the dieting part – meaning better eating.

  2. I remember a scene in the Super Size Me ‘documentary’ where Subway’s Jared is speaking in front of a group of school kids. One very overweight girl comes away from the presentation saying that she’ll never lose weight because she can’t afford to eat Subway every day like Jared did.

    While I don’t expect a girl her age to have an epiphany, I know too many adults who have that same “I can’t afford Jenny Craig so I will never be thin” mentality.

    People will begin their weight loss journey when they are ready and not a moment sooner. Sadly, that moment may never come for some people.

    1. Irene–that’s an excellent point and you are so right. No one can force someone to want to lose weight and for some people they just want to complain instead of taking action. There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s THEIR journey, not ours.

  3. on demand if you’ve got cable is great. and there are groupon deals for random gyms all the time. they’re usually only for a few classes or a month of membership, but it’s a less expensive way to try something new

  4. I like shopping at Ross & Marshall’s for workout clothes, too. Just found a pair of running capris with a pocket in back at Marshall’s.

    Luke’s Locker (Houston running store) gives a 15% discount to runners who join them on a free 40 minute run during the week.

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