I realize that gyms are an awesome tool for some people. Being in the gym, going to a group exercise class, watching others work out, or working out with others, is a great motivation. I used to like going to the gym because once I was there, I kinda had to work out... nothing else to do! It's wayyyy easier to slack off when I work out at home because I know no one's watching ;)
But the bummer is that gym memberships are ridiculously expensive. Especially for the people who get a membership, use it for a month, and then promptly stop going (yup, I've done this).
Thankfully, there are so many other options out there to keep yourself healthy and keep money in your wallet*. Here are my favorite non-gym workout techniques!
Running / Walking / Biking (etc) in the Great Outdoors
I know, it's almost winter time and you don't want to go outside. But outside activities are F-R-E-E! Why pay to use a treadmill at a stuffy, smelly gym when you can just walk out your front door and get exercise?! I know being outside is not always feasible (read: blizzard conditions, icy sidewalks, etc) but for a majority of the winter, you can gear up and get out there. Since moving into our new apartment, Mike and I have been taking major advantage of our neighborhood and have been taking tons of walks to explore. It's free entertainment and free exercise!
Be Smart With your Phone
If you're like me, you might be motivated by tracking your workout progress. With a smartphone, you can do this easily! I've downloaded the RunKeeper app and love it so far! With this app, you can turn on your phone's GPS and your activity (whether it's walking, running, biking, skiing, snowboarding, rowing, to name just a few!) will be tracked. The app calculates time, distance, speed... and it even gives you a map of where you went! Super cool.
I also like their training plans feature. You can choose from quite a few free plans for things like completing a race (5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon) or getting in shape or losing weight. Once you start a plan, you open the app and complete each day's activity, and it gives you a big green "Completed!" notice for that day that will make you feel very accomplished ;)
There are a ton of other free workout apps that you can download. I use 7 Minute Workout which is a cool concept- 12 exercises for 30 seconds each with 10 seconds rest between each exercise. I used it a few times to take a break from blogging and get a little workout in... and it's kicked my butt :)
YouTube is your Money-Saving BFF
Youtube is such a glorious mecca of free workouts. Some of my favorites:
Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred: Level 1 (these videos are constantly disappearing and reappearing. Sorry in advance if this link stops working! Sometimes you can find levels 2 & 3 also, but it's hit or miss)
Yoga- I have done videos from Yogamazing, but there are TONS of options out there. Just search "free yoga video" and you'll get approximately 7.5 billion hits.
My current favorite videos are Tone It Up workouts! For those who haven't heard of TIU: the trainers are two self-proclaimed "beach babes" who post tons of free workout videos on YouTube and sell fitness DVDs, protein powder and snacks, and a nutrition plan. They seriously put so many videos out there for free- there are probably hundreds on YouTube! The videos are definitely more geared toward women, but they're a great workout for anyone!
Also, just a warning, these girls are masters at advertisement. After doing a few free videos and checking out their website, you will want to buy their products. Full disclosure: I did buy their first DVD for $40ish... and I really like it!
Invest in Some Home Equipment
To complete your at-home workouts, you might find that you need some equipment. If you're just starting out in your fitness journey, feel free to skip the weights for now: many videos will say that you can do the exercises without them! I've also heard of people using water bottles or soup cans as weights... so be creative and see if there's anything around your house that you can use!
But eventually, you might want to invest in some equipment. I have a yoga mat and two sets of dumbbells: 3lb and 5lb. (I know, I'm a weakling! I'll eventually get some heavier weights...). I bought my dumbbells at Target (are you even surprised?) and love them. Mostly because they're pretty colors ;)
If you're trying to save money (well DUH, why else would you be reading "Saving Money in your Twenties"?) check out Craigslist or a used sporting goods store to see if they have any cheap options. I bought mine new because I saw them in the store and liked the colors and impulsively purchased them. What, at least I'm honest? But honestly, spending around ~$30 on two sets of dumbbells has been worth it. It's less than one month of membership at my old gym!
I strongly suggest that you re-look your gym membership, if you have one. Are you really getting your money's worth out of it? Consider working out at home and saving yourself a ton of money. Even if you buy some DVDs or equipment, I bet you'll still come out ahead.
Or maybe you can find some cheap classes that don't require a monthly fee! Michelle at Fit Is The New Poor just posted a very interesting dance workout class that she takes for $5- check out her review and see if there's one near you! ;)
*I suppose here I should take a minute to issue a disclaimer: please don't start a workout regimen without first getting approval from your doctor :)