If getting fit tops your New Year's resolutions, you're not alone.
According to the 2013 Outlook Survey organized by TD Ameritrade, Inc., 42 percent of Americans are making health-related resolutions this year. That's compared to 32 percent opting for financial oriented goals.
After a gluttonous holiday, the new year always triggers the need to be more active, eat healthier and feel better. But how do you get the most from your fitness regime without breaking the bank? Consider these ideas to stay in shape on the cheap.
1. Take Advantage Gym rats abhor the beginning of the year when well-intentioned newbies crowd their classes and struggle with the equipment. Despite the initial claustrophobia, however, the gym floor inevitably clears within a couple months as fitness goals wane. As a committed newcomer, you should take advantage of New Year's gym deals, like reduced monthly payments and waived activation fees. Chat with salespeople at several gyms and be sure to ask for a free pass to experience the facility and classes before committing.
2. Stay Home If dragging yourself to the gym a few times a week is enough to send you into a couch-ridden funk, skip the membership and work out at home. Rotate several DVDs to keep yourself motivated and to avoid muscle complacency. Since workout videos range anywhere from $8 to $30, download the Coupon Sherpa mobile app for in-store savings at Target, Sports Authority and more. Cable users or Netflix subscribers can also stream workout videos as part of their monthly subscription.
3. Go Online Paying for personal training gets pricey, though good instructors are worth their, um, weight in gold for people with big fitness goals. If you're looking for basic guidance, get it for free from websites like Fitbie or Exercise TV on Hulu, or subscribe to a health magazine. After all, you can't beat $15 a year for weight loss advice and at-home program recommendations.
4. Make it Public Thomas Jefferson said, “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.” Apply this lesson to your fitness regimen and share your goals via Facebook or Twitter, letting your friends keep track of your status and offer support during the inevitable lulls. Better yet, create a Facebook group of like-minded friends to swap tips, recipes and encouragement.
5. Buddy Up on Personal Training If reading articles about getting in shape doesn't do it for you, consider going halfsies on the cost of personal training. According to SmartMoney, the majority of personal trainers offer discounts for group sessions even if they represent a gym that doesn't promote this fact. As with anything, it never hurts to ask and you may be more encouraged to attend sessions with a friend.
6. Daily Deal It Groupon and other daily deal sites are good for more than deeply discounted laser treatments. Health clubs compete for new business at the beginning of the year so you should have a plethora of options. Look for daily deals on discount or limited-time memberships, and feel free to play the field of gyms in your area. Doing so may give you free access to consistent workouts for a few months.
7. Buy Used Fitness equipment can get expensive but it shouldn't be the reason you avoid exercise. Hit up discount retailers for basic fitness accessories like dumbbells, yoga mats and medicine balls for a fraction of fitness-store prices. Thrift stores are another good outlet for discount essentials, and you can always scan Craiglist for bigger equipment. Be sure to research equipment and thoroughly test and inspect used items before purchase.
8. Mobile Motivation The best motivator for exercise is knowing how many calories you burn while pumping iron, as well as how many you avoid by eating right. Luckily, there's an app (or several) to track your progress on both counts. Consult this list of recommended fitness apps from The Huffington Post or find your own fave in the iPhone and Android markets.