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Spark: How to Find Cheap or Free Workout Classes
I went to my college gym approximately five times in my four years of attendance. Now that I'm older, wiser, I'd like to take this time to apologize to ye olde college gym for my complete and utter negligence: College gym, I am so terribly sorry that I never truly appreciated the luxury of having a free and fully stocked gym a mere 10-minute walk from my residence and classes. I can't believe I never took advantage of your many exercise classes, stacks of dumbbells up for grabs or the various cardio machines available for my use, for free. And while our time together was brief, I will never forget those five times swiping my college ID and having the opportunity to work out for free (mostly. Thanks, tuition).
As I've discovered since graduating and moving into various apartments over the years, getting fit can come with a steep price tag. Trendy athleisure and home equipment aside, boutique studios and specialty workouts can drain your bank account faster than your kid disappears the minute it's time to clean up after a sleepover. According to USA Today, the average gym membership costs just under $60 a month, but a boutique membership can cost anywhere from $50 to $250, depending on where you live, not to mention that a single class could cost $20 to $40.
Unfortunately, I've never been the type of person who could step out my front door and hit the pavement for a solid 10-mile jog, which means I motivate myself and keep my workouts interesting by seeking out as many studios as I can find. As a loud and proud penny pincher, though, I've not yet been able to convince myself to throw another $100 or more at a second gym membership. And so, I've become the Queen of Cheap Workouts. All hail! All hail!
With a little detective work, some seasonal luck and determination, you too can discover cheap, or even free workout classes right in your hometown.
1. Facebook: In between my two days a week at Orangetheory Fitness, I've been able to attend free workouts all summer long thanks to the social media giant known as Facebook. While it's great for sharing your latest vacation pictures to make your coworkers seethe with jealousy, Facebook is also a tool for discovering community events, including workouts. At the beginning of the summer, I started noticing that my local park, Lululemon and a few local breweries were all advertising different summer workout series. I added a few more community organization, studios and athleisure stores to my newsfeed and, voila! Within a few days, I had a full itinerary including Saturday or Sunday morning yoga, Tuesday evening Pilates and a Thursday morning boot camp on the books.
Many studios offer classes such as this throughout the year as a preview to entice people to join. While some charge a few dollars for the instructor's time, many are free and held in nontraditional spaces—such as the aforementioned brewery—for a fun change of pace. In addition to being known for their booty-boosting yoga pants, Lululemon is also well known for being involved with the community by offering both in-store events and partnering with other studios to provide running groups and more. By finding your local store online, you can follow them for updates on events to get your sweat on and meet some like-minded sweaters like yourself.
I recommend seeking out and hitting the "Like" button on businesses that are involved in community events (breweries, local community building initiatives, exercise gear stores, athleisure brands with stores in your area), parks and various fitness studios in your area. Many of these opportunities are seasonal, unfortunately, but chances are you'll at least be able to find one or two exercise options per week if you want to change up your routine every now and again. After a few weeks with your new news feed, that workout calendar—and your wallet—will be filled to the brim.
2. New Studios: Another day, another trendy new fitness boutique opening. If you live in or near a mid- to large-size city, chances are there are new fitness studios popping up every month or so. Many of these studios offer free classes in the weeks leading up to their grand opening to drum up business. Even though I'm committed to my current studio, I'm always keeping my eyes open for new openings as a way to add some variety to my routine, challenge my body and keep myself open to the possibility of finding another one true exercise love.
If a studio is just new to you, call ahead to see if they offer any free or discounted classes for new members. Many will, and you'll be able to give them a try before committing to an expensive monthly charge. If you're lucky enough to live near many studios, you could try a bunch for a few weeks of free workouts before deciding you love one above all others and joining, or even just going back to your home workouts armed with some new moves.
3. Groupon: Before I started working at SparkPeople and embracing the workout warrior goddess hiding inside, I was something of a Groupon groupie. I'd bop from deal to deal every other month or so, trying classes all over town for fractions of the monthly membership fee before the deal ended and I'd be forced to scoop up another great deal.
If you're new to exercise or someone who loathes the idea of strapping on your sneakers, utilizing Groupon to experiment with different studios is a great way to find the exercise with which you'll one day fall head over heels in love. Enjoying and even looking forward to the activity that makes you sweat is the surest way to build consistency. After all, the more you hate your workout, the more likely you are to talk yourself out of attending. Who knows? The discovery of your new favorite workout could be just one "30 classes for the cost of 15" deal away.
4. Community Centers: Similar to my love affair with parks that offer outdoor classes, community centers can be a secret treasure trove of affordable workouts. This is a recent discovery, unearthed by a coworker who messaged me one day asking if I'd be interested in $3 spin classes or a whopping month of unlimited spin classes for just $6. "How can you say no to $3 spin classes?" I thought. "But what's the catch?" I thought a second later.
Turns out, there is no catch (though my first class did not have AC, which was traumatizing). Check out your local community recreation centers to see if they offer fitness classes. If they do, chances are they're available for a cheap rate, allowing you to experiment with water aerobics, boot camps, spinning and more, right near your home.
So scratch "It's too expensive" off your list of reasons why you can't get in shape because, as you can see, where there's a will, there's a really cheap way.
Shop: No Tangles, No Adult Tears!
I am blessed and cursed with very thick hair. The kind of hair that sheds everywhere, the kind that gets in tighter knots than any you've ever encountered in your iPhone headphones, the kind which my hairdresser always greets with a "My goodness! I always forget you have so much hair! This is going to take a while." I love it, minus that whole knot part. Remember that scene from "The Princess Diaries" where her hair breaks the brush? That has literally happened to me.
Made with bendy, go-with-the-flow IntelliFlex bristles, the brush seamlessly weaves its way through snags and knots, detangling without making me curse the day I decided to have long hair. It navigates the minefield that is post-workout, post-boat and post-Jeep-ride-down-the-highway hair with ease—trust me, I've tested. Whether you have thick or curly, straight or raggedy tresses, the Wet Brush is sure to leave your scalp happy.
How do you find free or cheap workouts in your area?
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