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Every January, millions of Americans join a gym to make good on their New Year’s resolution to lose weight. The sad truth is, it rarely works out. Literally. While we may have every intention of going to the gym regularly to perspire with our neighbors, we rarely do. According to a Statistic Brain Survey:
-63% of gym memberships go completely unused.
-82% of gym members go less than once per week
-22% stop going after 6 months
-31% say they wouldn’t have paid if they’d known how little they’d end up using the gym
In fact, the business model of many membership gyms is based on the assumption that you won’t show up. That’s why facilities capable of comfortably holding 250 people at a time sell thousands of memberships. They know we’re not using them—at least not very often.
If you have plenty of money in the bank, a gym membership you never use is not the end of the world. But for most of us, the extra savings could make a big difference. In the United States, over 60 million Americans are members of some sort of gym, paying an average of $58 per month, or $696 per year. If you were to save $696 per year for the next 25 years and let compound interest work its magic, you could have well over $20,000 to spend on vacations, your child’s education or retirement. Not bad for skipping all that pink spandex, bad hair and an endless loop of pop songs.
Luckily, you don't have to pay for an expensive gym membership to get in shape. Here are 6 ways you can get fit without a gym and save money along the way.
Walk to the store. Walk to lunch. Walk the dog. If you’re competitive and like to compare your walking with others, get one of the zillion mobile apps out there that count your steps and gamify the experience. As a general rule, many people aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. You’ll burn about 400-600 calories, roughly the same amount you’d burn during an expensive spin class at the gym.
If it’s too nasty outside to even think of going out for a walk, don’t be afraid to get creative. Try taking walks around the office or adding steps to your evening Netflix-and-chill time by tidying or playing with your pets while you watch.
If you live close enough to the office, why not bike to work? Biking to the office a few days a week can improve your overall health and relieve stress. You might even notice that you’re more productive at work when you start the morning by releasing a few endorphins.
If walking or biking to work isn’t an option, there are other strategies to add some exercise to your commute. Try taking the the stairs instead of the elevator or park a few blocks away to build a little more exercise into your day.
Research shows that working out in a group boosts energy and unleashes a flood of chemicals to the brain. In addition to the positive energy, you get the added benefit of forming new friendships, receiving support and being accountable to someone else. One group of Portland moms formed a weekly walking group for those very reasons.
“It's a lot easier to motivate yourself to get up early and walk 5 miles when you know 5 other people are waiting on you,” said one mom.
Remember when Jillian Michaels used to turn the biggest loser into the biggest winner? Michaels started a trend that resulted in hundreds of fitness gurus and thousands of free YouTube workout videos with names like “The 30-Second Body” and “The Coachella 5 Minute Hip and Butt Workout.” All you need is a little time, motivation and floor space. These killer workout videos will take care of the rest.
One Umpqua associate says her favorite YouTube workouts all come from Yoga with Adriene: “I was too shy to go to a gym, but Adriene’s channel gave me a ton of yoga routines to try without leaving my living room.”
Just because you're not a member of a gym doesn't mean you can’t sign up for a local class. From yoga and Pilates to outdoor boot camps, there are many affordable options out there that combine cardio with flexibility and core training. Many people find that the structure and group atmosphere of a class is more motivating, and more fun, than working out alone at a gym.
Some private workout studios can charge hefty fees for their classes. However, many of them offer heavily-discounted trial memberships for new customers. Introductory deals like these can be a great way to try new exercises with low commitment.
Alternately, check out your local rec centers, community colleges, or other public facilities for their exercise class offerings. They may not be as fancy as a private studio, but they’re generally much more affordable for local residents, and they often cater to beginners and people of all ages and fitness levels.
Raking leaves, mowing the lawn, mopping the kitchen floor: all great workouts! You’ll burn more calories shoveling snow every morning for 30 minutes than you will on the elliptical for the same amount of time. And your spouse, and your neighbors, will appreciate you so much more.
No snow? No problem! Try clearing debris from your yard, finally cleaning all the junk out of the garage, even vacuuming. In fact, many of the fitness apps we mentioned earlier include household chores in their exercise options, so you can log your chore time and even see an estimate of the calories you burned. Turning chores into workouts can inject a little more fun and motivation into both housework and exercise.
Getting to the gym 3-5 times a week can start to feel like a second job—one that doesn't pay very well! Rather than pay a hefty membership fee, why not put that extra money to use? Umpqua’s Access Checking comes with up to three complimentary savings accounts and offers four rebates a month on non-Umpqua ATM fees. Open an account online or visit your nearest Umpqua Bank to learn more.