Cheap and Used Fitness Equipment
Craigslist: Used equipment like treadmills and ellipticals can be a steal on Craigslist. Just make sure you test it out and have a safe way to get it home.
Play It Again Sports: Check for a Play It Again Sports in your area. You can get most kinds of used exercise equipment with financing, delivery and set-up included.
Amazon Exercise and Fitness: For smaller pieces of equipment, like pedometers and gloves, Amazon can be an excellent resource. Many items also have free shipping.
Wal-Mart Exercise Equipment: For beginners, the resistance bands and free weights available at your local Wal-Mart are very affordable.
Teach Yourself Fitness Exercises
BodyBuilding Training: Set up your own personalized workout plan using this training guide. Start on the left with “Find a Plan” and get all the info you need for free.
High Intensity Interval Training: If you’re short on time, HIIT can be an efficient way to get fitness into your schedule. You can adapt any exercise to HIIT easily and, of course, for free.
7 Minute Workout: This free Android app and similar ones for iOS walk you through the most efficient, no-equipment exercise.
Top 50 Fitness Apps: Many of the listed apps here are free and help track running, teach exercises, and hold you accountable to your goals.
Couch to 5k: Use this free interval training program to gradually increase your time and distance run over the course of 8 weeks.
33 Resistance Band Exercises: These simple exercises can be done anywhere and for minimal cost, usually $20 or less, to get the bands.
Cheap Gym Memberships
10 Ways to Save on Gym Memberships: These tips help you sign up at the right time and avoid unnecessary extras to help you decrease your gym cost.
Planet Fitness: For just $10 a month, you can get unlimited gym and training use at the nationwide chain Planet Fitness.
Best Gym Membership Deals: This article from Men’s Fitness outlines the best gym deals around the country, especially in urban areas.
Groupon: Put in your zip code to find deals on gyms and fitness classes near you. Some deals help you save up to 95%.
24 Hour Fitness Pass: This free pass is just one of many you can get for gym chains across the country. Try out the gym for a week and see how you like it before you sign up.
Fitness Clothes and Shoes on a Budget
Discount Athletic Shoes: From Overstock.com, these men’s and women’s athletic shoes are name-brand at better prices than many retail stores.
Athletic Show Buying Guide: These tips help you choose the right shoes for your activity and make sure they fit properly on your feet.
7 Spots to Save on Gym Clothes: Check out these places online and in-store to find great deals on quality gym clothes for men and women.
9 Websites for Deals on Workout Clothes: These websites can lead you to serious savings on both workout clothes and sometimes equipment.
Clothing Under 10: Although this site is geared toward juniors clothing, women can find great deals here on yoga pants, tees, and more, all for under $10.
6pm: Find deals for men and women on name-brand clothing, including Nike, The North Face, Columbia, Calvin Klein and more.
Tips for Getting Fit on a Budget
Use your own body weight to get started. Push-ups, jumping jacks, squats, lunges, planks and other simple exercises can be done with zero equipment. There are also many variations of these calisthenics that decrease or increase the intensity. This allows a range of skill levels, from beginner to advanced, to take advantage of these exercises.
The best advantage of calisthenics is that you can do these at home and completely for free.
Resistance Bands and Free Weights
Ideally, you should start with these inexpensive pieces of equipment. All too often, people buy pricey treadmills, ellipticals, and other gadgets that end up in the next garage sale. Before you make that financial commitment, buy a few new or used sets of weights and bands. You can work out every muscle group and spend less than $20 to get started.
Buying Used Gym Equipment
Speaking of garage sales, these can be a great place to look for gently used equipment. Scout out your newspapers for community garage sale announcements.
You can also post and search for trade and swap ads. Many people are itching to unload the equipment they didn’t stick with. You can trade something you no longer need like small kitchen appliances, clothes and accessories, old cell phones, and so on.
Always make sure to test out used equipment, even if you buy it from a retail store. Make sure everything runs smoothly and that electronic components work.
Walk Whenever You Can
The goal here should be 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day. It can be useful to purchase a cheap pedometer to keep track of your steps, but you can also simply make extra efforts to walk more. The conventional “Take the stairs instead of the elevator” applies. You can also try parking farther from store entrances, pace while you talk on the phone, or take a walk when you’re early to an appointment or meeting.
If you really want to boost your cash flow, offer to walk a neighbor’s dog for a few dollars. Or you can offer to volunteer as a dog-walker at a local shelter or rescue group.
Community Center Classes
Check with your city or its community center for low-cost fitness classes. Many of them offer the same popular classes as expensive gyms, like Zumba and pilates.
They may also offer dance classes, which can be a fun and inexpensive workout that you’ll really look forward to.
Most community center classes do not require an annual contract. Instead, you usually pay for each 6 to 8 week block of classes, so there’s no expensive commitment. If you enjoy the class, you can sign up again at the end of the class’s run.
Use Your Insurance
Call your health insurance company and ask if they provide discounts for gym memberships. Some offer up to 60% savings to encourage members to stay healthy.
You can also call your HR department if you work for a larger company. They may also have information on discounts and incentives provided directly through your employer.
Keep in mind that it’s best to try on plenty of athletic shoes before you buy them. Try taking a quick jog up and down the aisle of the store to make sure they move well. Running shoes, for instance, should be thinner and more flexible.
It’s very important that your shoes fit properly and give you the amount of cushioning you need. Try the shoes on with a thicker pair of athletic socks to get a better idea. If your shoes don’t give you the proper support, it’s easier to end up with injuries to your feet, ankles, knees and back.
If you want to buy online to save, it’s still worth visiting a store to try some on. Once you know a well-fitting brand, style and shoe size, then you can search online for discounts.
Trying Out Gyms
Consider using free 7-day trial passes to try out a few gyms near your home or work. Some of these passes can be applied for at the gym or online, while others may function as a “Bring a Friend” pass if you have a gym-going acquaintance.
When you’re ready to sign up, make sure you read all of the paperwork carefully. It’s often best to go with a month-to-month or 6-month pass rather than an annual one. Yearly passes are cheaper per month, but often require a deposit or payment in full the day you start. If you’re not already a gym rat, the shorter term contracts can also save you the headache of paying for a gym membership you stop using.
Once you decide the length of your contract, it’s important to get it as barebones as you can. Sometimes the company’s sales tactics require gym employees to guide you toward expensive add-ons to make a package deal. They say it will save you money, but if you’re not using these add-ons, you’re only wasting cash. Think carefully before you sign up for unlimited tanning, saunas, sports clubs and other expensive gym amenities.
Food & Water
Don’t forget that nutritious food and plenty of water are also necessary to be fit. Exercise without good nutrition and hydration can leave you worse off.
Consider investing in a pitcher that filters water and a few stainless steel bottles so you can avoid buying bottled water.
When it comes to food, plan the bulk of your meals around in-season produce, frozen vegetables and meat, and inexpensive whole grains like brown rice and lentils.