Whenever I need to tighten up my spending habits, I notice that things like gym memberships and pricey exercise classes seem to be the first to go. I tell myself, “I’ll just go for more runs” or “I’ll work out at home,” knowing good and well that I’ll be eating cookie dough by the ton in bed and feeling like crap within a few weeks. But really, I love to workout. Well, sometimes I love to workout (I’m not Beyonce), but you can only do a Julian Michaels workout DVD alone in your room so many times.
I really like exercise classes because all I have to do is drag my butt to class and once I’m there I know that the crazy music, other people’s energy, and whatever the teacher tells me about “loving myself” will put me in the mood and I’ll end up feeling great afterward. But with most classes in major cities topping off at around $45-50 a class, there’s no way someone on a budget can justify one of those classes, no matter how great they make your abs look. So I scoured the Internet, researched, and found a few different tricks that help you take these classes for cheap or free.
First Class Free
If I’m in the mood to take a workout class but my bank account is screaming at me to just heat up that 99 cent pasta in my pantry and be done with it, I’ll usually log on to Yelp and type in “first class free,” and what pops up is pretty cool. It’s a little known fact but most swanky exercise studios in and around major cities will actually let you take a complimentary first class. It’s a great way to find a ton of cycling, Pilates, yoga, kick boxing, and dance classes offered for nothing. If you take a bunch of studios up on this offer you can really feel like you’re beating the system. It’s obviously a marketing strategy on their end so always you stick to your guns, take the class, and if you happen to fall in love with the place or a certain instructor ALWAYS go home and think it over before you purchase pricey classes.
Donation exercise classes are pretty much just that: classes you can sign up and take for the price of whatever donation amount you can afford. I usually do a search for “donation classes” near my area and, from there, a ton of studios, mostly yoga, will pop up and they’ll list all the donation-based classes they offer. These cheap classes usually take place at studios that offer many full priced classes, taught by accredited instructors, but they feel it’s their duty to the community to offer inexpensive classes that everyone can take, which is actually pretty cool if you ask me.
Free Outdoor Classes
Some personal trainers, yoga teachers, and group teachers of all kinds like to make extra money on the side by offering donation or discounted class prices in the park or at other free outdoor venues. They’re not paying for a studio space rental so they’re pocketing all that cash. It’s technically a no-no on their part, but no one really cares, and it’s also why they offer these classes for cheap. And who doesn’t like to exercise outside? You get fresh air, Vitamin D, and it’s a great way to make new friends. Just do a simple Yelp or Google search for “free outdoor classes” and you’ll find a wide variety to try.
Free Trials at Gyms
Most gyms, especially the big chains, offer a one to two week free trial at most of their facilities. And many of them have a full schedule of exercise classes from early in the morning until late at night that you can capitalize on during your trial. You’ll probably have to deal with annoying sales agents who are going to do their best to persuade you to buy a membership, but you just need to stay strong and ignore those phone calls once your trial is over.
Groupon is also a great way to find really inexpensive ways to exercise. Personal trainers trying to start up a business, new studios looking for customers, or just old gyms whose businesses might have taken a hit recently will also post deals on Groupon. Either way you’re getting great classes a discount prices. You might have to pay more upfront but if you do the math the classes can come out to $3-5 per class once you break it down.
Whitney Teubner is a writer based out of Los Angeles. She has written for the Adult Swim network and enjoys outdoor activities preferable with dogs and or babies involved. Follow her on Twitter @Whitneyteubs