Get Physically Fit without Killing Your Budget

Forget the gym try something newGym memberships can cost over $1,000 a year. Add a personal trainer to that and you are spending thousands to get fit and stay that way. Granted, being physically fit is extremely important, but so is being financially fit. How do you balance the two? Consider some alternatives to the gym and personal trainer scene. Here are a few ideas to get you moving without overspending and also provide you with convenience of not having to travel to your gym if it’s a little far:

  • P90X: For under $150 total investment, you can see measured results in as little as 90 days. My friend Sedric has been using the popular fitness program for the last 60 days. He looks incredible and says he feels even better. The program includes 12 DVDs, an eating plan and access to an online community. The program can be purchased at
  • Shape-ups: These revolutionary walking shoes by Skechers work wonders for an investment of less than $120. In addition to a regular walking plan, Shape-ups can improve your posture, strengthen your back, firm your buttocks, tone and firm your thigh muscles, firm your calf muscles and tighten ab muscles. My mother bought a pair and swears by them. Normally sedentary, she was attracted by the simplicity of the idea, and it has paid off for her. She walks almost daily now. Find retailers or order direct at
  • Biking: A tried and true solution to those that get bored with other forms of exercise and prefer to be outdoors, bike riding can get you fit in no time flat. For under $80, you can purchase a sturdy bike that will give you miles of affordable exercise and fun. Check out the deals at
  • Trail-Running: Depending upon where you live, many suburban and city areas now have urban trails that you can take to for running or jogging. All you’ll need is your desire to be fit and a pair of good trail-running shoes. Outside magazine’s Gear of the Year 2010 is the Nike LunarGlide+ at around $100. Get your pair at
  • Exergaming: Wii Fit and EA Sports Active both offer exercise programs which use a camera to track your movements and progress and display onscreen feedback. The American Council of Exercise chose exergaming as one of the top fitness trends of 2010. The WiFit Plus with Balance Board gives you many exercise routine options at around $130. If you don’t own a Nintendo Wii console, the initial investment will be about $200. When tallied together this may seem like a lot, but compared to the monthly gym payment, you are saving a lot of money. Shop for Wii products.

When thinking of gym alternatives to save money, get creative. Think of what you can do at home or outside, like the options above. An initial investment for equipment or DVDs will save you money and time compared to costly monthly payments over a lifetime for a gym membership. Ultimately, you’ll be able to add variety to your exercise routine without killing your budget.

(photo credit: Mike Baird)

  • Shannon Lutz

    I definitely agree with you on this one. After spending over 5K on a gym membership and a personal trainer for 6 months in 2008, I decided to give P90X a shot. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, and I had the same reservations as many people do when they see the infomercial. Gee, that is not for me I thought. It is either for someone who is already in shape or it is a hoax. But I figured I’d give it a shot. Afterall it was only $120. That is less than I paid for 1 session with my personal trainer. Well after a year and a half, I couldn’t be more happy! I achieved phenomenal results with P90X. I completed two full rounds of it (6 months straight). I have also completed one round of the newest program (Insanity). These programs are legit and you will achieve great results. What makes them so effective is that by purchasing the DVD’s you also get a comprehensive nutrition plan developed by a nutritionist and designed specifically to fit the needs of the program and also access to social network through Team Beachbody online where you can connect with other people who are doing beachbody programs and where you can find excellent articles written by experts in the field. I highly encourage anyone to give these programs a shot. You will not be disappointed. As a side note, I am now a Beachbody Coach and I would love to help you succeed! If interested, you can purchase the products directly from me and I will be assigned as your coach in the system. I am available by email and phone to answer any questions that you may have and to provide support and encouragement as you progress through your program! If interested, visit my website listed above or you can connect with me on facebook (shannon lutz in charlotte nc) where you can access a photo album with pictures of my progress through P90X and Insanity.

    • Joanna Salinas


      Thank you for sharing your story. It is very inspiring! I visited your website and I must say your transformation is incredible. Proof positive that with a dedicated and determined mindset most of us can achieve great fitness results without a gym membership.


  • cyd

    another good way to get in shape is to adopt or borrow a large breed kinda high strung puppy, such as a lab. Your puppy will get you into shape. They are great personal trainers. lots of long walks (while holding tightly onto the leash), tug toys (great arm exercise) and they are so hyper in the kitchen, they wont let you cook much, so you end up eating lots of no prep healthy foods like yogurt and fresh produce. my puppy (who is now 15 months old) has helped me lose 37 lbs,so far. No dieting needed :)

    • Joanna Salinas

      37 lbs lost…Wow! Gotta love that puppy. Thank you for sharing your story. I know our readers will appreciate another alternative idea to getting fit without shelling out a ton of money.

    • Karmella

      I wish that my crazy puppy had had that effect on me!!

  • Keith Morris

    One of the things I LOVE about my apartment complex is the indoor racquetball court at the clubhouse. Such great exercise, and it doesn’t cost anything more than the equipment.

    • Joanna Salinas


      Many apartments provide an onsite gym and sports complex. Another great idea for getting fit and keeping your money in your pocket. Thanks for sharing. I remember my dad playing racquetball all through my childhood and he was always super fit.

  • Kate

    Great post! I also need to utilize the gym in my condo complex more and the great trails around the river in my city.

  • Skirnir Hamilton

    I would also recommend It is a free website with nutrition tracker (calories and many other nutrients), exercise tracker, etc. You tell it how many pounds you want to loose, by when, and how often you want to exercise and it will tell you how many calories to eat a day, etc. It is a great website with many, many tools and lots of information all for free. You can create your own website where people can post and encourage you. There is message boards and many challenge groups. I highly recommend a challenge group to kick you in the butt, if you want it. It really is a great all around weight loss and get healthy website. There is also strength training programs and exercise videos, etc. Try it, you might like it!

  • David/yourfinances101

    The truth us, if you really wanted to, you could get yourself on an exercise program that’s absolutely free.

    The last time I checked, walking/running in your neighborhood was free. Ditto for pushups and situps on the lving room floor.

    Throw in a few other “homegrown” exercises and you’ve got yourself a regimen.

    It may not be the most glamorous in the world, but it will certainly get the job done.

  • Karmella

    I ended up with subscriptions to Shape and Self magazines, and I’ve noticed that every month they have a pretty comprehensive pull–out section with a lot of exercises, usually only involving maybe one of those balance balls. If you didn’t want to subscribe to the magazine (I think it’s like $12/year) you could probably photocopy those sections at the library each month. They might actually have them online at the website, I’ve never checked.

  • Liz

    If you are willing to spend a little bit of money upfront, there are various exercises that you can do at home with quality equipment. One of my favorite exercise tools is the kettlebell. Upfront, it can cost as much as one or two months worth of gym membership, but it totally worth it. It is just as effective, if not more, than dumbells. There are various weights and exercises you can do with them and they can combine both cardio and resistance/strength training in the same workouts. There are various DVDs you can purchase, but there are plenty of videos on youtube that teach basic moves and proper technique. I’ve also done Insanity and P90x as well, and along with those great products, there are other Beachbody products like Brazilian Butt Lift, Chalean Extreme, and P90 (was before P90x and is a little easier for those not ready for P90x yet) that all have given many people I know great results.