Cheap exercise

May 27, 2009

A little while ago I blogged about barefoot running, than which no exercise could be cheaper.

Today Google Reader suggested I might be interested in gubernatrix’ blog on strength training, and lo, there is a recent post on fitness on a budget. Not a bad read, I thought. Reminded me of Mistress Krista’s suggestions at Stumptuous.

Personally I train regularly with Capoeira Mandinga, which is extremely cheap as martial arts clubs go. I get sufficient jollies from this that it would be last on my list of things to give up. And I’m riding my bike as often as I can. That’s got to be the most fiscally virtuous exercise I do, because it actually saves money.

Confession: I do belong to a gym. I got a deal on the joining fee years ago, and I pay $33 a fortnight, a rate which is unobtainable now, but which I have locked in permanently. I belong because I like to lift weights, the gym is close enough to work that I can work out in my lunch break, and I don’t have the space at home to set up a weight room.

I have figured out that since I joined four years ago, I could have bought a power rack, a bench, an Olympic bar and 200kg of plates with the money, and this bugs me. As and when we move somewhere with more permanent intentions, a home gym will be on the list. Even now, I ask myself whether I wouldn’t like to save $858 per year, and several hours per week, and find some other way to do strength training.

In any event, my tips for cheap gym membership are:

  • buy an existing membership to a chain gym from someone else. Saves a joining fee, and as rates go up and up continually, you’ll pay their old rate, not whatever the gym is currently offering
  • don’t sign up on your first visit. Some gyms are really bad like this — they’re cagey about their prices when you ring and want you to visit, and then if you fall for that they want you to sign on the spot. Tell them tough. If they want your business, they’ll give you the same deal tomorrow.
  • most of the chains have promotions annually or six monthly where they waive or reduce the joining fee. Wait.
  • if all you need is somewhere to lift, check out somewhere bare bones like the Powerhouse.

Or don’t join a gym at all. Gyms make their money from the customers who sign a contract and then don’t turn up, which turns out to be most of them. Take gubernatrix‘ advice, do your push-ups, run to work, and find something heavy to lug around.

How do you keep fit cheaply?



  1. Carrying around my 8 month old 😉

  2. As cheap as they get: the guy who employs me owns a gym as one of his varied businesses. I opted not to ask for a raise this year (which was unlikely to happen anyway) but instead got him to give myself and my girlfriend gym memberships.

  3. Free gym at work, on the rare occasions I get to go. And when I don’t, there’s always single combat with Maggie, several times a day.

  4. Swimming – $120 gets you a 30 swim ticket which I bought in January and am still using. Thorndon Pool is nice and close to my work (though only open in summer), and Karori Pool relatively close to home.

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