9 Free And Simple Ways To Stay Healthy & Fit Without A Gym Membership

Once the New Year rolls around and everyone is done O.D.ing on sweets, detoxing and getting back into shape is a top priority.

Something that usually comes with the “losing weight” resolution is a gym membership. I’m lucky that I have a membership to the local YMCA which is relatively inexpensive compared to the other gyms in town. It also offers a discounted membership for state employees so this is a major bonus. Ever since I started on my personal journey out of debt I have asked companies if they offer discounts. Shockingly a lot of places do!

Did you know that many cell phone, gym, car rental and hotels companies offer discounts to government employees?

So while I haven’t gotten a cost of living pay increase through the state in about 5 years getting these little discounts here and there is a nice surprise.

Coming right out and asking for a discount isn’t something I did before the Spending Fast because I thought it was kind of embarrassing and I didn’t want to be The Cheapskate. Now, I want to be the cheapskate. It’s my thing. I own it now. Now, it’s totally okay with me. Well, I take that back. Sometimes, it IS embarrassing but I always figure it’s worth asking even if an occasional dirty look comes with it.

Today I’m sharing my top tips on how to stay healthy and fit without a gym membership, because it is possible.

Get in Shape Without the Gym

1. Run a stairwell Sometimes, if it’s really cold outside or if I just don’t want to make the trek over to the gym I’ll take a couple of puffs off my inhaler and I grab my old iPod to start running the 5 flights of stairs in my building. I’ll do this for about 20 minutes and it’s an amazingly good work-out. I end up sweaty after which isn’t super desirable but it’s doable because it turns out that feeling swampy grows on ya.

2. Utilize this exercise-finder site here This site allows you to click on the body part you want to work and then gives a list of exercises to do for that specific area. These exercises can be done at home. If you don’t have weights fill old milk jugs with water and lift those. Actually, I’ve heard that if you lift unsteady weights it helps to build the little muscles and produces nice results because your body has to work to balance the unsteadiness. Or, maybe I just made that up.

3. Run around your neighborhood It’s easy to forget about this one during the winter-time (I know I do) because I automatically find myself thinking, “It’s too cold. I don’t want to be cold.” Pull on the long-johns and hit the road. Also, the days are starting to get longer again and that means more day-light after work.

4. Play with kids If you have kids or know some kids play hide and go seek with them, wrestle, run around something circular (does every kid love that?). Tap into their endless energy and break a sweat.

5. Shovel snow If you’ve ever shoveled you know what I’m talking about with this one.

6. Get a jump-rope Just about every time that I’ve gone to the thrift store there has been a jump rope there. Jumping rope burns an amazing amount of calories.

7. Shoot hoops Running up and down the court is crazy good cardio.

8. Utilize Rec Centers While this tip isn’t completely free it’s awfully close. Most cities have recreation centers that are even cheaper than the YMCA. They’re definitely worth looking into.

9. Take advantage of free classes Here in Denver (they also have locations in California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Oregon), CorePower Yoga offers free hot-yoga classes throughout the week. These free classes are always a little busy so just get there early to secure a spot.

Do you have a tip that isn’t included in this list? If so, I’d love to hear it!


22 thoughts on “9 Free And Simple Ways To Stay Healthy & Fit Without A Gym Membership

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  1. Dana

    Great tips, also break out those DVDs most of us have accumulated over time…I swear I have enough to do a different workout every day for a couple of weeks!

  2. Ales Eisner

    I took the cardio and weights approach to getting fit a while back.

    I started running 5 miles three times a week around the neighborhood, which is free, and really took the weight off.

    And I splurged and bought a used universal gym, which retails for about $1000 but I got it used for $400. There isn't much that can break on a machine like that, and what there is, I can fix, so it wasn't as risky as buying used electronics. Since I'm still using it three times a week (consistently) five years later, I figure it has paid for itself mutiple times over when compared to a gym membership.

  3. Meghan

    There's a free boot camp at Red Rocks every weekend and it will just about kill you. :)

    Also, Costco sells 24 Hour memberships, and the cost amounts to about $13 a month. If I were being more prudent about my spending and goals, I'd switch from my $60 a month membership to that.

    P.S. Anna – I used to be a member of that gym and if you prefer working out outside during the summer or if you know you won't be in the gym for a month (travels, holidays, whatever), they let you pause your membership and I don't think there's a fee to do so. My friend stopped hers when she went to DC for work and it saved her $$. Also, they give you a free month for every referral. It is such a good deal, that we had to switch off with other members when new co-workers joined.

  4. Beth

    I rent workout DVDs from the library! You'd be surprised how many they have available to rent for FREE. You can also keep them out longer than a movie DVD which is great, and you can change-up your workout routine a lot when you have to check-out new ones.

    OH, and I don't have a dog, but a close friend of mine does! I had a blast running around the dog park with her pup, and playing with all of the other doggies.

  5. Miss Potter

    Love this post! And your blog. I have a gym membership, it's one of the luxuries I allow myself to have and I used it at least 5 times a week since 2005 so I am pretty committed…

    BUT I do love ideas on how to squeeze in extra exercise and this post gave me just that :)

  6. HBT

    I sort of live in the sticks, so taking our dog for long walks is great exercise for us both. For people who live where the winters are cold & snowy, There may be a place in your town where they'll let you walk or jog inside for free or a very low fee. I used to live by a civic center that had hockey games & concerts. I think it was something like $5.00 a month the walk/jog at the top walk way of the center. It was basically like a running track.
    Also, check craig's list for exercise equipment, some may even be free if you go pick it up.
    If you have Netflix instant play (I just switched my plan from the over $20.00 a month that included DVD's to $7.00 a month for the instant play only) they have lots of instant play exercise videos.

  7. Rich

    Back before we had kids, I went to the gym everyday before work. Now with my kids and with the long commute, I have very little time. I have thought about joining the YMCA here in Denver since much of my time is spent down here. I thought that perhaps I could do mid-day workouts. However, given I work on billable hours, that would likely mean staying up even later at night to work.

    My solution is to do home work outs. They are pretty basic. Stretches, sit-ups, push-ups with some small free weights and band work. I do this while watching the news. ON weekends or soem early mornings, I go for runs. I can do much of what I would do at a gym, although I can't do heavy weights or certain muscle groups.

    This semester I managed to get all my kids in swimming lessons at the same time at night. This lets me swim laps (something I love to do) while they are in their lessons. It costs money to do so, but every pool costs money, and at least this way, it's pay as I go. I am thinking that when the kids are a little older, I will buy a family pass to the town rec center. Most economical way to do it.

  8. Anna Newell Jones

    You make a good point Rich, if it's an activity for your health the benefits sometimes out weigh the cost.

  9. Marissa B.

    I do work-exchange at my local yoga studio. For every two hours of sitting at the front desk of the studio I get a free class! It works out pretty well because I can do lots of reading and doodling while sitting at the desk.

    Thanks Anna for the post!

  10. Erin

    I work out to exercise videos that I stream on Netflix! You can also find tons of free workout videos online with a quick Google search.

  11. Yashil

    Do a few sets (3 to 5 sets) of Push ups, squats, crunches, sit ups, lunges, burpees and jumping jacks. 30 minutes brisk walk after finishing. Only need a good pair of shoes.


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