Statistic Brain did research this year and found that the average monthly cost of a gym membership is $58, but that’s really factoring in a wide range of cities. If you live in any of their “notable cities” (San Francisco, Brooklyn, St. Louis, Atlanta, etc.), the average cost can range anywhere from $64 to $100 per month. Factor in other necessities like rent, car, cell phone, loan… and total monthly costs can go on.
We have a secret, though: No matter what type of exercise you like, there’s probably a way to do it for free.
All it takes is a little research, resourcefulness, and motivation, and you’ll be well on your way to 30 days of free workouts. And here’s a fun tip: Keep a jar on hand and fill it in with the money you would’ve spent on working out. Then treat you and your new, healthy bod with a treat at the end of the month!
If you live in a city, studios like Core Power Yoga, with locations in 23 states, offer a free first week to people who want to try a slow burn type of workout. Alternatively, check your local studios for free classes they may be offering. Some also offer community classes for cheap ($10 and under).
When, or if, you feel comfortable doing yoga on your own, go online to doyogawithme.com or theyogacollective.com for free online classes. You’ll need to register for the latter, but for both sites, just specify your level and the length of yoga practice you’re looking for, then jump right in.
If you live near a public pool or a high school with a pool, odds are you’ll be able to swim for free at some point during the week. A quick Google search will bring you to the pool’s website and schedule. Take advantage of this to do a swim workout. Swim workouts build endurance, strength, and coordination, all while staying low-impact.
- 5-minute warm-up
- 50 meter (m) freestyle
- 25 m recovery
- 50 m backstroke
- 25 m recovery
- 50 m freestyle
- 25 m recovery
- 5-minute cooldown
To maximize your time and efforts toward working out for free, you’ll want to work out at home in between exercises or on periods of time when you can’t go to the gym. For this, there’s a handful of free apps. Here are some great ones to try out:
Nike + Training Club: With over 150 free workouts available for people of all levels, you can’t go wrong here. Using bodyweight or light equipment, the app will walk you through each routine, which feature Nike Master Trainers.
Freeletics: Short and sweet is how we like it. Freeletics offers 10- to 30-minute bodyweight workouts complete with videos to ensure you’ve got the right form down.
Sworkit: With an exercise library, plans for all fitness levels, and the ability to create custom workouts, this app is the real deal. It even ranked first in a 2015 study that assessed a variety of fitness apps based on American College of Sports Medicine protocols.
You can also use these apps at a gym. Franchises like Crunch, Lifetime Fitness, and Gold’s Gym offer free one-day trials and have many locations across the United States. Statistic Brain also reported that the average number of gym visits a week is two — so these free one-day trial passes are perfect!
Don’t want to download the app? You can also turn to Instagram to see what fitness trainers are up to. Many of them include their routine on their account and provide visual and written directions.
Now that your energy is up and your body is ready to take on more, try higher intensity classes.
Is a good jab, jab, right hook combo your thing? Try a free kickboxing conditioning class at a UFC Gym. They have many locations across the country and internationally. If you fall in love, look on Groupon or Living Social for discounts. You can often find a deal of around $45 for a month’s worth of classes.
Check your local gyms for boot camp classes. Most commercial gyms will allow you to work out once on a free pass, so why not use your visit to try out a class? 24 Hour Fitness offers two kinds of boot camp classes. LA Fitness also has one.
The good thing is, all you need is a bike and an open road to cycle for free. However, if you have neither, all is not lost. Check out spin studios like Cycle Bar, which currently has 143 locations across the country, for a free intro class. You’ll have to fill out a waiver in person, but that’s the only commitment for your first ride.
If you fall in love with cycling or want to try again, see if there’s a Fly Wheel studio near your home. It’s not free, but they do offer a discount on your first class, where you can take the course for only $15.
Be strategic and realistic, especially if you’re new to working out or are just getting back into the groove. Don’t start hard and heavy or you’ll burn out. Or worse, get hurt.
We’ve curated this list on purpose to have you start with low-impact workouts before integrating more substantial cardio, like weightlifting and kickboxing. Don’t take on a hard training session like a boot camp or high-intensity workout just because it’s free.
And for people who don’t have a studio nearby, we have a few at-home workout routines you can do. Working out at home is also a great time to try plyometric and weightlifting workouts. You can do them from anywhere and need limited, if any, equipment.
Try this plyometric routine
- Jumping jacks (30 seconds)
- Rest (15 seconds)
- Jumping lunges
- Tricep dips
- Back extensions
- Jump squats
Also try this strength routine — all you need is a set of dumbbells. If you don’t have some, get creative. A bag of produce, pet food, or even a gallon of milk or water will work. Complete the circuit three times through:
- 15 overhead squats
- 15 dumbbell shoulder presses
- 15 deadlifts
- 15 dumbbell rows
- 20 reverse crunches
- 15 push-ups
- 20 bicycle crunches
Don’t let the expense stop you from working out consistently. While accessibility differs from city to city and state to state, it’s possible to work out for free or try out discounted classes to see which exercise suits you best.
Nicole Davis is a Boston-based writer, ACE-certified personal trainer, and health enthusiast who works to help women live stronger, healthier, happier lives. Her philosophy is to embrace your curves and create your fit — whatever that may be! She was featured in Oxygen magazine’s “Future of Fitness” in the June 2016 issue.