Getting Fit For Free (Almost!)

Raise your hand if you belong to a fancy gym. You know, the one that is open 24 hours a day and has a juice bar and a spa and a super hot guy who passes out towels near the ellipticals.

How much does that gym cost you per month?

How many times a month do you actually go to that gym?

Now… divide your monthly cost by the number of times you’ve worked out this month.

That, Bitches, is the cost of each of your workouts.

You know what’s cheaper? Not joining the gym.

If you spend $50 a month at the gym that’s $600 a year. For $600 you can buy an awesome elliptical to keep at home. Or a kick ass treadmill. Or one of those spin bikes with the TV at the front that makes it look like you’re cycling through the south of France or some shit.

I used to belong to a gym. Every other year I’d join a new gym, go four or five times, stop going, and then cancel my membership. Then I’d hear about a new, more awesome gym, I’d join that one and repeat the whole cycle.

Fuck me.

Turns out… you can get a pretty good workout without spending a fortune at the gym.

My husband used to play soccer. When we were in high school he played midfield which is, like, the most active part of the soccer field. Or something.

Anyway, as a result, he’s always been a runner. And not just like “I’m going to go for a run” and then he jogs around the block and comes home. More like, “I’m going to go run 5 miles and then do 700 million crunches and then make you feel like garbage as you struggle to keep up” type of running.


As someone who works a lot and has been described alternately as a “workaholic” and “Type A” I usually don’t have time for the gym. My bag would sit sadly in the backseat of my car and I’d pretend I was going to go after work but after a 10 hour day I just wouldn’t make it. I made the decision to cancel my membership after one too many false starts.

And I decided to take a page from my husband’s book. Who, as far as I know, has never belonged to a gym. I started running.

To start running you really only need one thing. Well, two, if you’re a basic bitch. A decent pair of shoes. And a good sports bra.

That’s it.

For the cost of one month of that gym membership you can just be out there. Running.

It’s crazy.

Let’s run the numbers.

I guarantee that you have a pair of shorts or capris and a tank top or t-shirt you can run in. So, we’ll consider only the two most important things needed. Shoes and a sports bra.

Now – I’m a pretty busty lady. But, and this is going to sound insane, my favorite sports bra ever comes from Walmart. It’s Danskin brand and it costs about $7 a bra. That’s fucking nuts.

Shoes, though… that’s a different story. You can read all sorts of nonsense on the internet about running shoes. How much drop do you need? How wide should the toe box be? Are those ones that look like a toe sock worth it (Answer: no)?

I’d recommend just going out there in a pair of cross-trainers or runners and see how you feel. If you stick with the running after a few weeks or a couple months, then you can invest in a better pair of shoes. But for now, just work with what you’ve got. If you’re really curious, these are the shoes that I run in. They’re currently about $60 a pair.

We’ll start with this:

Average Cost Per Item
Running Shoes (last on average 400 miles) $75
Sports Bra $15


Assuming you run 9 miles a week (3 miles/3 times a week) you’ll need to buy about two pairs of shoes a year. So that comes out to $150/year.

Let’s say you want 3 sports bras so you only have to do laundry once a week. $45/year.

You need $195 investment for a year’s worth of consistent running.

How much was your gym membership a year again? Oh yeah, $600 a year!

Right here, you’re saving $405 a year. Just by taking up running. Which you probably already do on the treadmill at the gym!

Gym Running
Daily Cost $1.65 $0.54
Monthly Cost $50 $16.25
Yearly Cost $600 $195


Now, I know there are a lot of reasons people don’t run. Maybe the climate of your area is not conducive to running. Maybe you have bad knees or joints. Maybe you just hate running with the fire of 1000 suns.

But, I’m here to tell you that running can be fun. And even kind of awesome.

Of course, I’m saying this to you while my husband is out on a run and I’m sitting here on my computer sipping a cup of coffee, but, you get it…

Running is freeing. It’s a great mental palate cleanser.

And if you’re a novice to it, there are so many awesome apps and plans to help you love running. I’ve used the Couch to 5k (c25k) plan with great success. And I’ve used free podcasts to help me make those runs even more fun. I’d highly recommend the c25k podcasts put together by Suz over at Kiss My Black Ass.

Her podcasts are perfectly formated to fit the c25k program and she picks some amazing tunes to help you on your way. Nothing like a little Nelly or a some Timbaland to get you moving!

So, unless you’re really that into hot yoga (and I seriously think that everyone who says they like hot yoga is part of some global conspiracy to make me feel like a fat, sweaty cow), consider ditching that gym membership and lacing up a pair of running shoes instead!

You’ll break a sweat without breaking the bank.

**Reads previous sentence. Rolls eyes. Decides to keep it anyway.**

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2 Responses

  1. Julie says:

    I hate running, so I have another low cost alternative for you. Les Mills on Demand offers a huge variety of workouts for about $12 a month. I use it every night. I have a cheap barbell set that’s I’ve used forever and hand weights I bought from Target. Beach body on Demand is about the same price and has great workouts too. And Fitness Blender gives tons of free workouts that are excellent.

    I am a huge proponent of working out at home. I don’t need group classes to motivate me and nothing is more comfy than working out I. A space you created for yourself!

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