‘Tis the season … for New Year’s resolutions: those solemn promises that we make to ourselves in early January, start to feel guilty about avoiding around mid-June, and—too often—completely abandon by late October. Every year, resolutions around getting in shape and/or losing weight typically top the “Most Popular” lists, and for lots of good reasons: people who are in better shape are typically healthier and more confident.
No one should be surprised, then, that January tends to be the biggest month of the year for sales of gym memberships and signups for nutrition products. The average gym membership runs about $700 per year, and one popular meal planning system for dieters carries a price tag of almost $300 per month. Clearly, while slimming down and staying in shape are worthy goals, it’s also worth asking the question: Is there a way to do it without pillaging your bank account? Let’s take a look at some lower-cost alternatives that could help you get the same results.
- Jogging. It’s free to jog in a park or in your neighborhood, and your main cost is a decent pair of running shoes, which you can get for $25–75, depending on your preference for fit or your need for a name brand. If you can discipline yourself to get out there three to five days per week for 20 to 30 minutes per session, you can burn lots of calories, tone your legs, and improve your cardiovascular health. Better yet, find a buddy to jog with you! Savings over a gym membership: $625–675 annually.
- Yoga. If you prefer the low-impact approach, you can download a beginner’s intro to yoga for free and see if it works for you. If you decide to go all in, you can buy a video for $10–50 and gain the benefits of increased flexibility, better muscle tone, and generally improved physical and mental health. You can buy a mat for about $10, but you can probably get by with rolled towels and a rug, at least until you determine that yoga is right for you. Enrolling in an actual class will easily cost $1,000 a year or more, so doing yoga at home, on the cheap, gets you basically the same benefit at a savings of $940 or more per year.
- Dieting. Sure, you could pony up around $3,600 per year for a company to deliver special meals and snacks to your door, and if you stuck to the plan, you would almost certainly lose the weight you needed to lose. On the other hand, with a little discipline, you could educate yourself on low-carb, low-calorie, healthy foods, taken in appropriate portions. Using free websites like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt!, you can calculate your calorie intake, keep a food diary, and gets tons of other helpful information that could help you make better nutrition decisions. You’ll save anywhere from $2400 to $3,600 every year, but your checking account won’t have to go on a diet!
Stay Diversified, Stay Your Course!