Get Out of the Gym: Ways to Save Money on Exercise Anyone Can Do

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You can save money on exercise in many ways if you put your mind to it. Here are some tips to help you avoid the gym but still get a quality workout done.

Grayson wrote a few months ago about how he was ditching his gym membership this year. I used to be right there with him. Mrs. Frugal Rules and I had memberships to multiple health clubs, from 24 Hour Fitness to Gold’s Gym. Tell me if you can relate…we’d sign up, go gung ho for maybe 2.3 weeks and then it would take an act of Congress to get us back to the gym.

Suffice it to say, we were doing nothing to save money on exercise. In fact, we were paying the gyms we were members of just for kicks and giggles and getting nothing out of it – other than an auto deduction from our bank account each month. Sadly, we were not alone. Check out some of these stats from Statistic Brain:

  • $58 is the average cost of a monthly gym membership
  • $39 of that is money wasted because of under use
  • 67 percent is the amount of people who have memberships and never use them
  • $21.8 billion is how much the health club industry makes each year

If you think like me, those are crazy numbers; they’re mind boggling really. At nearly $40 per month waste my mind is full of better ways to use that money each year – which is really the point behind some of our blog posts. This post really isn’t about whether or not you should have a gym membership as we all derive different value from things, rather how to save money on working out when you don’t want to have a gym membership.

Because, let’s face it, exercise and working out is very much applicable to our financial lives – directly and indirectly. So, if you’re looking for some ways to save money on working out at home hopefully these simple tips we use in the Frugal Rules home will help you.

5 Ways to Save Money on Exercise


Use Your Computer. You may not realize it, but likely the best way to save money on working out is something you’re staring at right now. The Internet is a treasure trove of tools to help you work out from home and many of these options are free. While there are a good number of membership sites available, all you have to do is go to YouTube and type in “workout videos” and you have countless to choose from.

Buy your own weights. Not having access to weights is something I had missed about not having a gym membership. But, you can very much have your own weights, from simple free weights to entire systems. Mrs. Frugal Rules and I went the free weight route by purchasing the CAP Neoprene Barbells from Amazon. We got several pair and spent less than $30 I believe. You can get similar weights at Target for a similar price and can work out whenever you like.

Get outside. One thing I hate about winter in Nebraska is that it’s usually butt cold. The last thing I want to do when it’s -5 is go out for a walk so this is reserved for 8-9 months of the year. Just go out for a walk or run or work in your garden. It really doesn’t matter, just get moving and it’s likely all free.

Buy Workout Equipment. Ok, I know, this can be as much (if not more) of a trap as the gym membership but it comes with a catch. I didn’t say buy it at the store, rather scour Craigslist, the want ads or even Freecycle. It might take a little work, but it can be a great way to save some serious money on exercise equipment. Just make sure it works right before buying it. 🙂

Ride a bike for your errands. Of course, this one should be done within reason but biking is a great way to get in shape and get outside. You may have to buy a bike upfront, but I’ll guarantee you it’ll be cheaper in the long run versus the cost of an unused gym membership.

At the end of the day, the important thing is that you’re working out, whether you do that from home or are a member of a health club. However, just make sure you’re not making your budget work out too much as well. 😉


How do you save money on exercise? What’s one of your favorite ways to work out at home? How much have you wasted in gym memberships?

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

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