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Do you need a $40 fitness class to stay fit?

March 1, 2014

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As a spinning instructor, I love group exercise classes. Not only does advanced registration make you more likely to actually show up, you also get an energy boost from the invigorating music and enthusiastic peers. Living in NYC, I have access to a wide variety of classes, from pole dancing to aqua cycling, making trying new classes easy, fun, and addicting.

This is a blessing and a curse. I’ve made my way through multiple free and discounted trials, but sooner or later you need to pay up, and all of these specialized classes have certainly slimmed down my wallet. One bootcamp costs $34! So, I’m starting rethink my spending on exercise. While I like to treat myself and try out dance and other really specialized classes every few weeks, I don’t think I need to spend hundreds of dollars a month for flat abs and toned thighs.

Additionally, I find that group exercise classes, especially the uber-trendy ones, can sometimes have a negative influence on our self-perception. Nobody needs to be comparing themselves to the intense front row fitness buffs, decked out in expensive gear and hitting up their second class of the day.

So let’s get back to basics.  Exercise is you time, and should be enjoyable. Plus, if you choose to be your own fitness instructor by  getting yourself outdoors for a run or lifting weights in your living room, the mental challenge of self-motivation can be just as beneficial as the actual physical activity.

So if you’re looking to stay fit without breaking the bank, here are a few budget-friendly ways to stay in shape for every type of fitness addict:

Yogis looking for a cheaper chaturanga:  Drop-in classes in larger cities can run upwards of $30, and if you forget your mat and water you’re looking at another $3-$5. Check and see if your favorite studio has a membership, or buy a package of classes. There may be some sticker shock at first, but you’ll save in the end. Be careful of expiration dates, though! If you live somewhere that has Lululemon or Athleta stores, check out their free class schedules. Finally, invest in a few yoga DVD’s and step into Warrior 1 in the comfort of your own home. I like this one.

Pilates & Ballet Babes: If you love lengthening and toning, then you fall into this category. Boutique classes can get pretty expensive for these classes as well, but some of my favorite at home workouts are Pilates- and ballet-inspired. Physique 57 has great online videos that you can purchase for as little as $5.00, and Cassey Ho, founder of Blogilates, has great videos for free!

Cardio Queens & Gym Rats: From Fly Wheel to Barry’s Bootcamp, there are some amazing class-based ways to get a good cardiovascular workout, but I promise you there’s an even better way: Just lace up your sneakers and head out for a jog. With the right sneakers and proper stretching, running is absolutely the best bang for your buck. If you love hitting the gym, bloggers are posting circuit workouts on Pinterest that can be done with just a few small weights, or sometimes even none, from your living room.  You can watch your favorite shows while getting a workout—it’s a win-win!

None of those sound enticing? No problem. There are lots of other ways to get your heart rate pumping without draining your bank account:

  • Go for a long walk with a friend.
  • Find yourself in nature on a beautiful hike.
  • Sign-up for a gym membership that has great classes, and only go to classes at your gym. Just make sure you’re going enough to really pay for your investment.
  • When it’s warm enough, jump in your nearest pond or river and go for a swim.
  • Go paddle-boarding, kayaking, or canoeing.
  • Park a little farther away from the grocery store and walk.
  • Take the stairs.

 Whatever workout you choose, remember that the most important thing is that you enjoy it. 

 What’s your favorite way to exercise?