Frugal Fitness

With this site dealing with both financial and physical wealth, I felt that it was appropriate to address the concerns that many may have with trying to combine both aspects. Fitness CAN be expensive. You can belong to a CrossFit box or a very nice fitness center for $100-200 a month. There are some very nice country clubs that cost much more than that. The idea of this article is to help give you options so you can get the most for the money that you are willing to spend to achieve your fitness goals.

Home Exercises

This is one that is not only cheap, but potentially could be at no cost. All you need is a spare room or basement and some imagination. You can use your computer/phone/tablet/streaming device or any other electronic device to stream workout videos from YouTube at no cost. I personally use this method to perform at home yoga, but you can perform bodyweight workout routines, stretching basics, injury prevention exercises and many other topics right from the comfort of your own home. If you want to up the resistance (and potentially the cost) you could purchase some resistance bands or even get a few dumbbells or kettle bells to increase the challenge.

No need to purchase expensive equipment to have an in home gym or purchase treadmills and elliptical to be used mostly as coat racks. Be creative and you will be able to reach a majority of your health and fitness goals at little cost

Gym Memberships

I know that I started this article by stating that gym memberships were very expensive, and they can be, but I have a few “Gym Hacks” to help you make the most of your money spent. If the in home version just doesn’t cut it, try a few of these to lessen the blow on your wallet.

First, don’t choose a membership package that has benefits that you will rarely (if ever) take advantage of. It sounds great when they are talking about the tanning beds and massage chairs that are available for an extra cost to your base membership but when you only use them once or twice a year the upgrade is not worth the cost. Stick to the basic membership and remember the equipment you need to achieve your goals.

There are two time of year (in upstate NY) when you are able to get the best deals on a membership, January and June, since this is when most gyms run “free trails” or discounted startup fees. The gyms know that everyone is trying to hit their “New Year’s Resolution” in January and they are trying to take advantage of the influx of clients and maximize the amount of customers they can keep for the year. This can be at a huge advantage to you. In June, most customers are beginning to do more activities outside and they are not in need of the treadmill at the gym to run anymore. This is a time when the big gyms see a decline in memberships and they are looking for ways to increase their revenue. Use these times of year to your advantage.

The last tip I will give when it comes to gym memberships, if you are currently paying more than the discounted rate or a rate at another gym, don’t be afraid to ask them about a discount or to switch gyms altogether. You’d be surprised how some places (especially privately owned gyms) are willing to adjust your membership to keep you at their gym.

Work benefits

This is one that I have recently looked into and was pleasantly surprised at what I found. I work for a big company that actually has a fitness center and personal trainers that conduct group classes all for free to employees (and a deep discount for spouses). As long as the commute doesn’t out weight the benefit of coming with employment, take advantage of this!

Also, some companies will have activities and discount through their wellness offices. Most companies will have a deal with a local gym for a discounted membership for their employees and they may even have running groups, yoga, Zumba or other group activities at a big discount or sometimes free. Take a look at your employer’s website or ask your companies HR department and see what might be available to you.


This last one is something that I have seen work on occasion but it is something that I would use as a last resort especially considering the triple tax benefits of the HSA. I have heard of companies letting their employees using their HSA accounts for personal training, gym memberships or other health and wellness activities. Obviously you are likely to pay more for these services than the ones listed above, but with it being a tax deferred revenue, it may be worth trying as a last resort to save some money on your fitness.

Ian is a Certified Athletic Trainer, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist and all around active person. Comment below to ask questions, give feedback or interact with him!