Is there a difference between free fitness options (i.e., at home workouts) and paying for a fitness membership to a health club when it comes to getting real results? You would think there would be considering the annual U.S. gym and health club revenues exceeds $21.5 billion (click here for more information). Unfortunately, people who pay for a membership are still NOT working out! In fact, according to StatisticBrain.com, 67 percent of people who pay for a gym membership don’t even use it!
There are several different reasons why people choose to join a gym or health club:
- To be in an environment with other people who are interested in getting/staying fit
- To be in an environment that will motivate them to do the work
- To get access to the equipment they “feel” is required to get fit and strong (at a cost far less than paying for the equipment on their own)
- To get access to qualified fitness instructors and trainers who have knowledge and expertise to help them get results … faster (i.e., fitness classes or one-on-one training)
- To meet other people who understand the physical and psychological struggle of exercising and working out
- To get motivated to work out
Fitness clubs do a great job of providing an environment that promotes these things … but because everyone is different (and motivated by different things … sometimes from day to day) there are no guarantees that what they have to offer will work out. These businesses “assume” the following:
- Everyone can afford the cost of a membership (or everyone is willing to pay the cost)
- Everyone lives close enough to the facility
- Everyone is comfortable exercising around other people
- Everyone is comfortable using the machines and equipment
For example, if someone lives close by and can afford the membership but are too shy or embarrassed to exercise in front of others they won’t go to the fitness club. Another person may have a work schedule that doesn’t permit them to get to the gym when fitness classes are being offered (the main motivation for them to exercise). This person is also unlikely to visit the fitness club.
Thank goodness gym and health clubs aren’t to ONLY option for getting fit and staying healthy … because paying for fitness is NOT mandatory!
Getting Fitness for FREE!
Technology has made it much easier to to get fitness for a fraction of the cost of a gym membership (or personal training) because the information to “do it yourself” is available online 24/7! The internet (using a computer or mobile device) is also a place where businesses and service providers are strategically marketing to get you to walk in their front doors! Below are a few ideas regarding getting fitness services, information and/or solutions to help you get fit and healthy for free (or nearly free).
Free Fitness Passes
Most fitness clubs offer free (or complimentary) fitness passes for first time visitors to their facility. You typically find these passes at their website where you sign up for the pass, it is emailed to you, and you print it off and bring it in to redeem it. For example, you can get an LA Fitness Guest Pass that gives you three consecutive days of access to their facility for you and a friend!
Free Mobile Applications for Fitness
If you’ve got a smartphone or tablet there are several mobile applications that you can download for free (although they will try and upgrade you to a paid version with more functionality). Knowledge is power when it comes to getting fit and seeing real results. These free mobile apps provide a lot of great information and visually appealing tools to help you get fit while having fun! For example, MyFitnessPal (MFP), a calorie count tool, can help you focus your efforts to burn calories to lose weight.
Free MeetUp Groups
For some people, the motivation to exercise and workout is connecting with other people who are also looking to get fit and healthy on their own. MeetUp.com is an example of a website where you can find groups of people to connect with. This website has a robust offering of fitness events and “MeetUps” where you can find people in your city (or local community) to connect with and relate to when it comes to exercise and fitness. Often times fitness instructors, personal trainers, or people just passionate about fitness will coordinate a MeetUp group to meet new “potential” clients by offering free fitness classes for the attendees.
Free Online Workout Programs
The Internet is a wealth of knowledge as it has become the platform for thousands of personal trainers and fitness professionals around the globe. Because many of them use their personal website to market themselves to potential customers, anyone can access the information they share for their own use! For example, many personal trainers will offer free workout programs or highlight workout videos on their website for visitors … so you can essentially take their knowledge and experience for a “test drive”. With an unlimited supply of content available you could have a new program or workout everyday of the year! Examples of websites that offer a wide variety of exercises and workouts (at a high quality level) include:
One of the downfalls to the Internet is that you can’t know for sure if the information you stumble across is legit. For example, the fitness website you are looking at may not have good quality programs or be represented by a quality trainer. Before you start any exercise program, make sure the source is legitimate or have someone you trust (with a medical or fitness background) review the information first.
Free Online Fitness Tools
In addition to the fitness information, workout programs and fitness videos (i.e., YouTube or Vimeo) that are available for free online, there are a wide variety of fitness tools that you can access that give you even more information to use! Although you may think you need a fitness tracker (i.e., FitBit, Nike+ FuelBand, Garmin VivoSmart, etc.) to get accurate results … that is not the case (although it requires a bit of extra work on your part). You can find the following online fitness tools at various websites:
- Calories burned calculators (using time, intensity, and specific activity types)
- Body fat percentage calculators
- BMI (body mass index) calculators
- Nutrition tracking and logging tools
“FREE” is Not for Everybody
Because we are living in a “value” economy, where the aim is to get the most value at the lowest cost, many of us appreciate the idea of getting something for free (especially if there is a perceived value associated to it). But … there will always be those who “question” the quality of the product or service that is given away for free (or nearly free). To be perfectly honest, you can’t substitute the experience you get when working one-on-one with a qualified fitness professional who is both knowledgeable and who truly cares for you and is dedicated to helping you get real results. If you are looking for a more effective workouts and faster results you need to ask yourself, “Is the cost worth the reward?”. If the answer is no … at least you know there are a wide variety of low-to-no cost alternatives to help you get there. The tradeoff is that you need to work harder and wait longer for results. The choice is ultimately yours.