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10 Ways to Slim Down Your Fitness Budget

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A few months ago, I wrote about how, like many women, I may have a slight spending problem when it comes to shopping for clothes. Good news! I am doing less of that, but have now found something else to spend my money on—spinning and yoga classes. I justify spending money on these exercise habits because they make me a healthier human and may eventually make my butt look better.

An investment in your body is definitely a worthwhile one that pays off more than a lot of other activities, though arguably finding the perfect LBD is an essential investment as well. If you are paying for a gym membership, you could be paying between $40 and $50 a month plus initiation fees. Additional weekly, thrice weekly, or, for the very dedicated, daily classes may go for $30 a pop. Fashionable workout clothes (I curse that day I first walked into Lululemon) adds a whole other layer of extremely cute and colorful expenses. Soon you will be looking at a depleted bank account, but you will be looking at that bank account with toned glutes!

Last year The New York Times wrote about a subset of women in New York City, which admittedly is a city particularly obsessed with exercise and thinness, who were doing two to three workouts a day. This habit was costing them upwards of $500 a month. These women somehow managed to go to a Pure Barre Technique class after attending SoulCycle next door. I also do a Pure Barre class after SoulCycle, and by that I mean sitting on my couch and drinking wine while watching Princesses: Long Island.

Yes, we all wish we had the discipline and schedule of Gwyneth Paltrow and could do two hours of yoga starting at 6 a.m. followed by a delicious bowl of kale, but I just don’t think I am going to do that unless I am in a class. You also look really awkward when you try to do the cool SoulCycle dance at the bike at your regular gym. Trust me on this. I decided to talk to some experts about saving on exercise habits.

1. Find balance

Andrea Travillian, a personal finance expert who has been quoted on Fox Business, Bankrate, and Refinery29, says that the key is finding a balance. “I recommend that you budget in your expensive fitness lifestyle by prioritizing,” she said. “Determine what is most important to you and splurge on that, and then cut back on the rest.”

2. The great outdoors

Anton Ivanov, the founder of Dreams Cash True and parent company Fortnoff Financial, LLC, emphasized that you don’t have to be in a state of the art gym to get a great workout. A neighborhood jog, a climb at your local state park, a swim in the ocean, lake, or river are cheaper and much more exciting than a 30-minute elliptical session indoors. You can also do the same yoga routines taught during gym classes in the comfort of your own home or backyard.

3. Workout trades

Carly Poppalardo, a professional organizer with Real Organized, can also relate to finding it hard to workout on her own even though she loves to exercise. Like many of us, she is young and often feels “broke-ish.” Her favorite tip that few people know about is to participate in “work trade” offers for free workouts at certain gyms. By arriving 15 mins before class, helping new people get situated on their bikes, and staying after for about 20 minutes to help the staff clean the bikes she gets the class for free.

4. Do-it-yourself

Katrina Taylor is a web designer and fitness guru (and Levo writer) who lives in Minnesota. She was so passionate about working out that she became an instructor at her local YMCA, which helps her save a ton of money. By instructing, she gets free memberships for her and her husband. “I was spending nearly $100 a month on a gym membership before I started teaching,” she said. “I did pay $150 to get certified and fork over $25 every two months for new choreographed workouts for the format I teach, but it’s totally worth it.”

5. Deal sites

Daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial offer great discounts on workout packages. These packages also offer the added benefit of not committing to a yearly membership with a specific gym.

6. Online videos

YouTube videos and free online fitness websites, such as Tone It Up and Blogilates, offer numerous resources to help you learn yoga and other exercises by yourself. You can even invite your friends over and hold your own private class virtually for free.

7. Fitness magazines

Magazines, such as Women’s Health, Shape, and Self, feature dozens of great workouts you can do at home with minimal equipment. If you don’t want to subscribe, you can access several of their workouts online.

8. Used fitness equipment

Many people purchase fitness equipment, and then only use it once. If you have enough space to store a treadmill or elliptical, you can find one heavily discounted on Craigslist or eBay.

9. Donation classes

According to Sapha Arias, a yoga teacher and student, many studios offer donation only classes where the students pay only what they can afford, or in some cases, if they can not pay, then the don’t have to. This is a great concept and it enables you to decide how to better allocate your money.

10. Drop-ins

Most yoga studios have a set rate for drop-ins, which are classes that are not a part of a package and allow a student to simply show up for class. These rates can be the best way to spend less or try out a studio for the first time since there is no monthly commitment.

Perhaps I don’t need to belong to the gym because I enjoy running outside and walk my dog a ton. Jillian Michaels may be a tough trainer, but my 10 pound yorkie gives her a run for her money. There is definitely a lot to consider here, but just remember that you don’t have to be a millionaire or go broke to get a good workout.

Have a great way to save money on your exercise habit? Share with us in the comments!

Ask Gabby Cohen, PR and Marketing Director for SoulCylce, her tips on staying fit in any budget!


#Exercise Finance #Soulcycle Wellness Lifestyle
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I'm very comfortable in my school's gym which has a bunch of different classes, that I get for free because I'm a student but I know those free gym days will soon come to an end. I love all of these ideas of different ways to get a cheaper workout; I NEED to try SoulCycle!

Wow Meredith this is hilarious, but also loaded with a diverse array of helpful advice. I am going to start looking for a gym that does work trade!

Elana Gross
Elana Gross

First Meredith this is hilarious! My favorite quote, "I also do a Pure Barre class after SoulCycle, and by that I mean sitting on my couch and drinking wine while watching Princesses: Long Island." Amazing! There are tons of free ways to get your workout in. I love taking my dog for long walks in Central Park or on hikes if I go away for the weekend. You can also buy workout DVDs or use the Nike App to have a free "trainer!"

This is such helpful advice! And it's nice to know I'm not the only one who thinks the cost of staying in shape can be absurd.

Love this article! I've been puzzling about this for a while now, because there seems to be an inverse correlation between my health and my wallet. These tips are so useful.

Also, Meredith, as a Long Island girl I totally approve of your TV habits.

I am a yoga addict, and I have found that some places offer deals to people new to the studio, where a month of unlimited classes are offered for far less than the cost of the individual classes would be. A great way to experiment with different studios until you find one worth paying full price!

Great article! I started teaching to save myself the $ for paying for a class! Our website database is quoted in that NY Times article. We have free options listed so definitely use it to search! (

Meredith, I always look forward to your insightful and entertaining writing. This is candid and comical ("I justify spending money on these exercise habits because they make me a healthier human and may eventually make my butt look better"), but also very practical because you've given excellent tips that are applicable to everyone. I think a weekend-only-worker-outer and a self-proclaimed wellness warrior can find great advice here!

I know that a lot of yoga studios in my area offer work trade, too.
This is great advice. Between barre classes and a gym membership, I find myself spending a small fortune every month on my exercise routine.

This article was much needed! I find myself spending more time wanting to work out than anything else. Another cool thing to try is the GymPact app. It practically pays you to work out.

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