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Many of us spend £60 or more a month on gym memberships we barely use, making this a big waste of money.
The good news is, there are a host of ways to cut the cost – and plenty of other ways to get into shape, without making a dent in your wallet.
Here we take a closer look.
Cut the cost of your gym membership
If you are set on going to the gym, it is worth considering cheaper options.
With Payasugym, for example, there are no contracts and no admin, and you can use hundreds of fitness centres across the UK. You can opt for a day pass or a monthly pass with an average 20 per cent discount to gym prices. You can also cancel at any time.
With PureGym, costs vary, but tend to be under £30 per month, plus a joining fee which is usually less than £20; day and week passes are also available. There is no lengthy contract, and once again, you can cancel at any time without hidden penalties.
While council leisure centres may not all have the latest equipment and machines, they can offer spectacular value compared to private gyms – along with a greater availability of indoor sports. Membership can start from as little as £20 per month, and usually comes with no minimum contract length.
If you are set on going to one of the bigger gym chains, note that some will offer more flexible alternatives to a 12-month contract, so find out if there is a cheaper month-by-month or “off-peak membership” option.
Before signing up, be sure to ask for a free trial.
Also check out Gym-membership.co.uk, as the site is brimming with deals and offers on memberships at many of the major gym chains.
Better still, why not go and train at an outdoor gym or “trim trail,” as great facilities are now located in parks and public spaces across the country.
These are completely free, and mean you get to enjoy an al-fresco workout come rain or shine, rather than being cooped up in a sweaty room. Most offer equipment such as parallel bars and balance beams and are suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. Visit The Great Outdoor Gym Company at Tgogc.com.
Get fit for free
If you’re looking to get more activity into your day, walking is one of the easiest ways to do so. Try, for example, ditching your car for short journeys, or by getting off the bus one stop earlier. Living Streets is a charity that aims to raise awareness of the benefits of walking, and encourages people to leave their car at home and ignore public transport, at least for part of the way to work. Visit Livingstreets.org.uk.
*Take up running
One of the cheapest ways to get fits is by grabbing your leggings and your earphones, and heading out for a run. If you’re not a fan of running on your own, you can join in a “Park Run.” These 5km runs are held on Saturday mornings at 9am at more than 150 locations across the UK – and you even get your time tracked for you. Visit Parkrun.org.uk.
A good option for novice runners is the “Couch to 5k” plan developed by NHS Choices. This programme combines days of running with days of rest, and there is a different plan for each of the nine weeks. There are also a host of free podcasts to help you achieve your goal. Visit Nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx.
*Get on your bike
Another good way to get fit for free is by dusting down your bike and cycling to and from work. Not only will this boost your cardio, but it will also save you money on public transport or petrol. If you need to buy a bike, it’s well worth looking into the cycle-to-work scheme, as with this programme, you choose a bike, hire it for an agreed length of time, then snap it up for a fraction of its original value. Visit Cyclescheme.co.uk.
*Free home workouts
Work up a sweat from the comfort of your living room (without having to open your wallet) by following a fitness programme on Pinterest, or by making YouTube your personal trainer. There are also a host of free apps that you can download, such as “Myfitnesspal” which help you monitor the exercise you’re doing and the calories you’re eating, and “Strava” which you can use to track any runs or cycle routes that you do.
*Take advantage of free classes
Make the most of free fitness session in your local area. For example, you can choose from a wide range of classes with OurParks.org.uk, such as Tots Tennis, Dance Fit and Buggy Exercise. Alternatively, Sweaty Betty (Sweatybetty.com/page/fynder/) offers free in-store fitness classes such as yoga, pilates and zumba, while Reebok turns its FitHub stores into group exercise classes several times a week; visit https://stores.reebok.com/fithubs/.
*Try a team sport
Finally, why not drum up interest in a sports team with friends or work colleagues, such as football, frisbee or dodgeball, and train together at the weekend, after work, or during your lunch hour.
*Green gyms - Get fit, get some fresh air and help the environment. There are over 95 green gyms in the UK, where you can help other conservation volunteers with projects that will help you get fit, improve your practical skills and enhance your local outdoors areas. Find a green gym near you. Visit www.tcv.org.uk/greengym/find-green-gym.
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Money Means is a news and information series written by independent financial and consumer journalists and experts. FSCS launched Money Means in 2016 to help give people clear and useful information about personal finance, to increase their understanding and confidence when dealing with money.