Alternatives to Joining the Gym

Every new year, people resolve to lose weight and get in shape.

One of the ways they often try to do this is to join the gym.

If you go to any gym around the country in January, you will notice that it is packed with well-intentioned people; however, come March, what does that same gym look like?

Suddenly it is much easier to use the equipment because there are fewer people waiting in line.

Resolving to lose weight and/or get in shape is an excellent goal for the new year.

Not only will you feel better, but you could likely save your future self money by proactively taking care of your health and avoiding high medical costs in the future related to excess weight.

However, joining the gym and spending a great deal of money upfront is not necessary as there are many other, more frugal, ways to lose weight and get in shape.

Alternatives to Joining the Gym

Get an exercise partner.

One of the best ways to make sure you remain committed to your goal of getting in better shape is to find someone to exercise with you.  Agree with your accountability partner how many times per week you will exercise together and for how long.  Then, keep the appointment religiously.

This is time for you to take care of yourself.

Follow an exercise DVD.

alternative to gym

There are alternatives to spending $ on a gym membership.

There are plenty of exercise DVDs available that cover all types of exercise at many different levels.  You can choose from yoga, pilates, aerobics, boxing, the list goes on.

If you really want to save money, buy these used on Craigslist or eBay.

[Glen: I’ve found excercise programs on-demand through my cable company as well as through Netflix as well.]

Create your own home exercise routine.

Prairie Eco Thrifter regularly posts exercise routines to do at home in her series, “Skip the Gym: Sweat at Home.”  You could follow a plan like this or create your own.

Buy exercise equipment.

If you would like to go to the gym primarily to use the treadmill, for instance, why not skip the recurring expense of a gym membership and instead buy the treadmill for your own home?

Chances are if you put out the word, a friend or family member has one in their basement gathering dust or in their bedroom serving as a clothes rack.

If you don’t know someone who wants to get rid of the exercise equipment you need, check out Craigslist or


This is the most basic form of exercise that almost anyone can do effortlessly.  If you live in a moderate climate, you can start walking outdoors now.  Those in colder climates will have to look for alternatives such as mall walking.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to join the gym, but too often, people excitedly sign up for a one year membership, spend hundreds of dollars, and then discover a month or two later that they don’t like going to the gym or it is too much hassle to drive there before or after work.

If your New Year’s resolution is to get in shape, try some of these alternatives at home first.

If you are dedicated and stick with your exercise routine, then consider joining the gym.  Even if you put off joining for a few months, you will save yourself the crowds and the chance that you won’t be as committed to your new lifestyle as you thought.

What alternatives to joining the gym do you know?

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Published or updated December 11, 2014.


  1. I need to quit my gym, but it’s only $10, so I have little incentive not to. I would prefer to just run with my dog.

  2. Great post. It is amazing how much even walking 30 minutes a day can do for your health. There is a very interesting clip on YouTube called “23 1/2 hours”. I recommend watching it.

    Thanks for including my workout series. I really try to help people have access to easy workouts they can do at home.

  3. My favorite alternative to the gym is sitting on the couch doing remote control and beer curls. 🙂

    Seriously though, if someone is really dedicated to working out, there are very few good alternatives to the gym. Cardio will only get you so far. Plyometrics and P90-X type stuff only lasts for so long. Those shake weight and electro-shock devices are a bunch of bull. Even home gyms can only of so much use without having a partner or spending money on serious equipment.

    It all depends on your level of activity and what your goals are, but sometimes, the gym is more beneficial than people give it credit for.

    • Good point, Eric. I am not saying the gym isn’t beneficial, just that many people join on a whim when they are out of shape, and there are alternatives to spending that much money in the beginning. If you realize you are dedicated and need a more challenging workout, than the gym might just be the answer.

  4. Great points as always. A home workout like Insanity is as good, if not better, than a gym because you can wake up and it’s there, no excuses!

  5. I’m going to the gym at work during lunch. This way I eat less and exercise more. If I don’t have access to the gym at work, then I probably will try to be more physically active at home. I wouldn’t buy a home gym though since I know I won’t use it much… 🙂

    • It is important to know your lifestyle and what you will actually do instead of what you would like to do.

      Going at work during lunch is great because you are already out of the house. It probably keeps you going for the afternoon too.

  6. My favorite is working Habitat for Humanity construction on Saturdays for a few hours. Pumping lumber is as good as pumping iron (arguably better – like sandbag training) and it’s free. And a deserving family gets a home to call their own out of it.

  7. I ride a bicycle and have a home gym. I could walk instead though. I still stretch and do pushups every night.

    • Nice! I used to love biking to the dojo a few days a week. It was a great warm-up and saved me from using the car as much.

      Pushups are an incredible exercise.

  8. P90X is great and once your done you can sell it on Ebay for a nice return.

  9. Melissa
    The points you suggested are good and also affordable. But personally I suggest to go under some trainer as there could a negative result.

    • You have to be careful with a trainer, you really need to have someone you can trust and knows what they are doing.

      I’ve had a couple of sample trainings and it seems each trainer has different skills and understanding. I’ve found I’m better off learning a few exercises and going from there.

  10. Nothing demotivates like the gym in January. It’s filled with people who don’t want to be there, and there are lines for everything. Find something you like to do — yoga, climbing, swimming, exercise classes — and you’ll be much more consistent.

    • Dan Thompson says:

      Great post! It’s always a zoo in the gym during January. I tend to agree, the issue is a lot of these activities are fairly expensive. Yoga and climbing come to mind. I enjoy both of these activities and do them on a regular basis but it defiantly adds up quickly!

  11. Chad Smith says:

    “Powerbands”, which can be purchased on Amazon for $25 can accomplish almost any exercise that you’d do, as far as weight training, that you can do at a gym. They are easy to use, safe and offer a great workout!

  12. I am numbered along with all those who resolved to get into shape this new year. I for one, enjoy going to gym, even though it is bit more crowded for the month of January. Gym memberships are more beneficial to me because it gives me a chance to talk business with like-minded people. Not only that, but since so many people lose interest from the gym after a couple months, it makes the gym that much better as I get to use the equipment whenever I please for the most part. Since I live in a colder climate, winter can be brutal here, so I try to do best I can to come up with my own routine with out weights!

  13. There are lots of exercises that can be done with no equipment or gym membership. I focus on these type of exercises and try to eat healthy.

    • Food is a huge factor. If you’re not eating well then all the exercise will only help so much.

      And you’re right. Something like pushups are an awesome exercise that doesn’t need equipment and can be done just about anywhere.

  14. Karizzle has got it right, and if you can’t commit yourself to doing exercises like this for 30 minutes or so every day, there’s probably no need to sign up for a gym membership. Although, some people like to pay because that motivates them to get their money’s worth by going and working out at the gym.

    In the end, for basic health and fitness purposes, there’s no reason you can’t get a great workout right at home!

  15. I have never been much of a gym person. In the winter & colder rainy days I prefer to do yoga at home with a DVD. I have dachshunds and they too get a work out on the treadmill at the same time. On nice days we are all out for a walk, playing in the yard and swimming in the pool.

  16. If you do exercise with the help of an Instructor, it will be benefited for you. Without any guide line you can do the exercise, but it will not so much effective as you wish. So instructor is must… Thanks for the tips.

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