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Get fit on the cheap? No sweat

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Wanda Downs, left, assists Christie Purvis of Tallulah, La., with an incline bench press using dumbbells during their training session at Wyatt's Gym in Vicksburg, Miss. Wanda Downs, left, assists Christie Purvis of Tallulah, La., with an incline bench press using dumbbells during their training session at Wyatt's Gym in Vicksburg, Miss. (Associated Press - John Surratt/The Vicksburg Post)

You swore this would be the year you’d get fit, but you don’t want to bust your budget doing it. No sweat. We asked a few experts to weigh in with their tips:


Health clubs have dropped their rates and initiation fees sharply in the years since the recession, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. This is partly due to competition from high-volume, low-price chains like Planet Fitness and others that charge under $20 a month.

That means there are gym options for nearly every budget.

If you still feel priced out, look into whether your employer or health insurer provides any wellness incentives, such as gym memberships, nutrition counseling or other fitness discounts.

Consider following the gym of your choice on social media to see when they are offering deals. Or sign up for Groupon, Living Social or other online deal providers to score a discount. If all else fails, try negotiating a better price; perhaps a discount if you sign up with a friend.

Can’t commit? Many gyms offer a trial membership or free first class. Or consider ClassPass, which allows you to pay a fee to access classes at a variety of gyms and fitness centers for a flat fee, often at a savings over paying for classes individually.


Not a gym sort? That may pay off. You can always work out by just leaving your front door to go for a walk, hike or bike ride.

Sarah Berger, known as The Cashlorette at Bankrate, suggests turning your morning commute into a workout to save time and money by jogging, walking or biking to work. She likes the Citi Bike program in New York City, which gives access to unlimited, 45-minute bike rides for $155 a year, only slightly more expensive than a monthly MTA pass.

You could also check out free classes offered by some fitness retailers like Lululemon or Athleta. Or consider joining a running group, basketball team or other health-focused group in your area at a minimal expense.


There are a multitude of free and low-cost fitness offerings online, such as Daily Burn, which provides a variety of workouts.

Or consider a service that will incentivize you to workout. Berger suggests HealthyWage, a site that allows you to make a personal bet on your weight loss. If you lose the weight, you win the money. If not, your money goes to HealthyWage.

“That’s pretty good incentive,” she said.

Pact is an app of a similar sort. You make a weekly Pact to exercise more or eat healthier but agree to pay other Pact members if you don’t reach that goal. You also stand to earn money if other members fail to reach their goals.


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