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Get Fit On a Budget: 6 Cheap Winter Workout Ideas

photo: spierzchala

Getting fit and improving one’s finances are two of the most common New Year’s resolutions: yet they often seem mutually exclusive. Fitting a personal trainer into a tight budget isn’t easy (though not impossible), and even gym membership fees often end up in the “wasted money” category as we tend to slack off and visit the gym less and less often as the year progresses.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Here are six inexpensive winter workout tips from Shayne Adair, a NETA (National Exercise Trainer Association) Personal Trainer and certified Group Fitness Instructor.

Spin

If you ride your bike in the warmer months, look for a spin class instructor in your local gym, community center, or bike shop who has a road cycling background. This kind of teacher gives instruction in techniques to improve your performance when you return to the road.

A fun feature of bike shop classes is you can use your own bike and park it in a bike trainer: equipment that holds your bike steady when riding indoors.  Bike shops are more likely to charge per class instead of per month.

If you want a home-based alternative, you can purchase a bike trainer and a Spinervals DVD set, but that can get pricey: the cost for your indoor biking setup starts around $100. Ask your local bike shop if they have used trainers for sale to save cash.

Buddy Up

When a friend is counting on you for mutual motivation, you’re more likely to brace the cold weather to go out for a run, bike ride or walk, or work out in the gym or to a DVD.

Find Your Community Center

Most cities have community centers — an activity center sponsored by your local government– that are often cheaper than joining a gym. They usually have traditional gym equipment, and you can change up your workout by signing up for month-long classes such as Tae Kwan Do or belly dancing.

Before you sign up for a class or membership, however, check all fees. Community centers generally have lower rates, but this isn’t always the case. For instance, your local gym could offer you a free month trial, waive initiation fees, and only charge $20 per month – and not charge extra for group classes like yoga, Pilates and Zumba. As long as there isn’t a cancellation fee, joining a gym could be a cheaper choice in this instance.

Join an Indoor Sports League

If you like team sports, find an adult sports league or drop-in basketball, badminton or volleyball games. You may even be able to join drop-in games free of charge. You can find out about sports leagues and community drop-in games on community cable access channels or your city’s website.

 Substitute Eating out for Activity

Instead of going out to eat, go ice skating, bowling, indoor rock climbing or play paintball or laser tag. Better yet, use coupons. Grab a tourism magazine from a local hotel’s concierge desk or search online: Entertainment.com and specific venue websites are good places to start. For instance, if you live in Texas and didn’t look at the web site for Main Event , you’d miss out on Monday night specials for $9.95 for bowling, laser tag, and billiards.

Build Your DVD Collection

DVD’s are definitely a cheap way to exercise, but you can make home exercise cheaper. Buy used DVDs on Amazon, Half.com, or exchange fitness videos on Videofitness.com. When you exchange DVDs, your only cost is postage.

Even cheaper, watch Exercise TV or fitTV for free if you have cable or satellite.  If you don’t subscribe to a paid TV service, Exercise TV workouts are available for download for as little as $1.99.

Reyna Gobel is a freelance journalist who specializes in financial fitness. She is also the author of Graduation Debt: How To Manage Student Loans and Live Your Life.