In this blog series, I’m working my way through examining the top five reasons people don’t work out (as told to me by my Facebook friends). If you missed reason one – time (or lack thereof) – you can find that article here.

The second reason we’ll take a look at is cost.

Here’s something interesting to think about: early gym chains (like Gold’s Gym) started in the 1960’s but were really strictly used by bodybuilders. There was an uptick of corporate gyms in the 1980’s – this was considered a perk of the office building or a corporate benefit. Modern gym chains, and therefore gym memberships, really didn’t gain mass appeal until the 1990’s.

So now that there’s a gym on every corner, a slew of Crossfit groups, several groups targeted specifically to moms like Baby Boot Camp and Stroller Fit, and not to mention all the exercise DVDs, videos on YouTube, and more – why are we getting fatter and fatter?

Obesity rates are skyrocketing as the number of gyms grows. Our nation’s collective health was better when none of us were even going to the gym. Look at this animated map, for example: this map from the Centers for Disease Control shows the percentage of the U.S. population medically defined as obese, which means a body mass index of 30 or greater. From 1985 to 2010, you can watch the percentage go up and up and up. What are we doing to ourselves?

I know, right about now you’re thinking, thanks a lot, Debbie Downer. I don’t really want to read something that’s going to make me depressed. I wish I could sugarcoat it (no pun intended!), but I can’t. It’s grim.

I do believe we can change the tide. And since I also believe that knowledge is power, let’s examine the issue of cost and see what we can do to improve our health in a less expensive manner.

The Issue:

Angela says, “I can’t afford a gym and if I try and work out at home, I am not sure what is the best exercise or routine to do.”

Gidget says, “I can’t afford a gym. I sure can’t afford a personal trainer, which I feel I need because of my medical issues.”

Shahrzad says, “Money is an issue for me.”


I understand. I really do. When money is tight, paying for a gym membership doesn’t often fit in the budget. But I will say that if there is anything for which to shift a budget around, the quality of your health should be at the top of that list.

Suggestions to Combat the High Costs of Gyms:

One idea is to start saving specifically for a gym membership. Get a jar, label it “I’m going to the gym!” and put $1 in it every single day.

I’d be really surprised if you can’t find a gym in your area for $30/month or less. I know that is available here in Austin and I believe it is elsewhere, too.

If you put away just $1 a day, hopefully it won’t be as big of a pinch and you can make it work.

As I mentioned in the last article, YouTube has brought the gym to our homes. Many free classes are offered and minimal or no equipment is needed.

Full length yoga classes can be found here

Full Pilates classes can be found here

Lots of options for beginner bootcamp can be found here

What did we do before YouTube? I have no idea.

Whether online or in-person, you can also find classes that are far less expensive than a traditional gym.

I have to give a shout-out to Shine Dance Fitness because I think it’s just SO fun. I love watching their videos and working out with them. They have a lot of free videos on their YouTube channel or you can do full classes by joining online for $10.99/month. Just try to watch this video without dancing along.

If you prefer the company of others and the group motivation factor, try looking on Meetup. There are lots of groups that get together and workout that would love to have you join them. Some are free and some require a minimal fee.

Can’t find anything you like? Take the initiative and make it happen yourself! Send an email to friends, coworkers, neighborhood ladies, other moms, etc. and just say, “Want to meet on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. for a walk?” Not only will you be getting exercise, you’ll get time with friends, too. Nothing makes exercise go by faster than chatting with someone else. I bet you’ll find many others just like you who don’t want to pay for a gym membership but want to work out, and they’d love to work out with you!