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5 Great Ways to Save On Fitness Plans and Gear

Stay in shape without breaking your budget

spinner image An illustration of inexpensive home fitness gear with a piggy bank and smartphone
iStock / Getty Images

Gym memberships can be expensive and may lock you into long-term contracts. Some at-home equipment on the market can carry big price tags and, sometimes, monthly subscription charges, too. But keeping fit doesn’t need to be a workout for your wallet. Here are some ways to save:

1. Stream workout videos for free

Whether you prefer gentle yoga, heart-pounding cardio or sensible strengthening routines, you can find thousands of workout videos—available for free—online (one easy place to start is aarp.org/fitness) or through some cable providers and streaming services. You don’t need much for most of these workouts—just a yoga mat for floor exercise and enough space for a few steps (or lunges) in all directions around you.

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2. Buy studio classes in bulk

If you prefer the community of in-person classes, most studios offer a free or highly discounted trial class or two. Once you’ve found one you love, consider buying a package of classes up front—as long as you’re certain you’ll use all the classes in the allotted time limit. “If you pay for six months’ worth of classes at once, it’s cheaper than paying for the classes as you go,” says Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews, a comparison-shopping website.

3. Wait for discounted gym memberships

High demand for memberships from New Year’s resolution-makers means that gyms tend to charge higher prices in January. You’ll get a better deal in February, Ramhold says. Pay even less by taking advantage of discounts offered through your workplace benefits or programs such as Silver Sneakers, available through some Medicare Advantage plans.

4. Be thoughtful about gear purchases

Looking to strength-train without spending hundreds of dollars on dumbbells? Purchasing a set of resistance bands is a cheap alternative and will still provide a full-body workout. If you’re interested in larger equipment, like a treadmill or stationary bike, check out sites such as Craigslist, OfferUp or Facebook Marketplace, where your neighbors may be selling barely used equipment for much less than you’d pay at retail. “There are a lot of people who buy exercise equipment and don’t use it,” says certified yoga instructor and over-50 fitness influencer Lorraine C. Ladish. “Often it’s secondhand, but it’s in pristine condition.”

5. Join your favorite fitness retailer’s loyalty club

While it’s rarely necessary to purchase purpose-made workout clothing, new threads can give you some added motivation. The rewards programs at athletic apparel stores may give you access to exclusive deals and discounts on merchandise. Some stores, such as Athleta, Reebok and Nike, may also provide access to community fitness events and classes.