Burn Calories, Not Cash

Escape - PrintSpring is coming, and you feel angst every time you look at all those fit babes in the Athleta catalog.


Before you sprint to the nearest gym, crunch the numbers: one national chain charges a $250 enrollment fee, plus $75 a month. That’s a budget-busting $1,150 a year. Let’s exercise some cheap alternatives.

Park it. Sign up with your city’s Parks Department and gain access to a network of gyms and rec centers—usually for less than $100/year.

Go back to school. Many high schools and local colleges offer free or low-priced gym memberships (with surprisingly state-of-the-art equipment, often a pool).

Y Not? YMCA memberships cost about $45/year month for adults 18–64, plus a $75 initial joining fee. There are also family-friendly rates, and the Y offers financial assistance for people in need. And lockers.

Swap. If you have a connection to a certified yoga teacher, aerobics instructor or personal trainer, offer to trade your own services—hair styling, web design, photography, mad knitting skills—for workout sessions.

Sweat solo. There’s a trick to successful home workouts: You have to find the right (video) trainer. Try one of Denise Austin’s videos, which are easy to follow but super effective. The Biggest Loser workouts are also great for straightforward routines that blast away the fat.

Net gain: Tighter quads and a budget made of steel.

Feel the burn. What are your favorite ways to work out without spending a bundle?

photo source: jonstich’s shop on etsy

The correct figure for a YMCA membership is around $45 per month, not $45 per year as stated originally. We regret the typo.

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