Two months ago I canceled my gym membership. As important as physical activity is to me, I could not justify the $73 monthly charge in addition to the $39 they wanted to charge me to switch home gyms when I moved. At the time, I had been going to the gym 4-6 days per week, and was walking to and from work each day.
I was not quite sure what the outcome would be when I stopped going altogether, and moved a mile closer to work. I challenged myself to come up with new and innovative ways to stay in shape, without a gym membership.
Not everyone can afford a gym membership. I have found that there are several ways to stay in shape without forking over the money to belong to a gym. I can tell you firsthand that it is not necessary to belong to a gym if you want to stay in shape.
Walk when you can. It is easy for me to walk most places because I live in a big city and do not own a car. If this is not the case for you, you can still find at least a few places that you can walk to. Walk Source is a great website to use that will tell you how walkable your house is. Just type in your address and you will get a score, along with a list of area businesses you can walk to. If your search does not come up with many options try parking further away when you run errands. Every little bit counts.
Use exercise videos. One of my favorite new discoveries is On Demand through Comcast. They have several workout videos created by Exercise TV and they are all free! This is a great way to add in exercise when the weather is bad or if you have kids at home and cannot leave them alone. Through On Demand videos I was able to start doing Yoga, something I recently learned that I love. I would never have tried a yoga class at the gym. If you do not have On Demand just go to Exercise TV online and try out some of the videos there. If you have Netflix or Blockbuster subscriptions, try some of their videos. You may even be able to rent videos from the library.
Pay as you go classes. If you want to attend group classes but do not want a gym commitment look for classes you can go to as you pay. A lot of yoga studios offer packages you can buy that allow you to go to classes when your schedule allows. I have even seen gyms that allow you to buy weekly passes to try them out. By doing this, you do not have to commit yourself to a long contract.
I have learned that I enjoy exercise much more when I am not forced to go to a gym five days a week. It is fun to get creative, enjoy the outdoors, and mix things up. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.