By Marianne Magno
You don't need to empty your wallet to have an active lifestyle. Follow these tips from fitness experts to save money while staying fit.
Tip #1: Mark Your Calendars
Gyms typically have specials in January (hello, resolutions) and September. You'll be most likely to score a cheap fee during these two months. If you're joining not during these two months, do your research. Check out a few gym rates in your area and then go to the one you're interested in joining. Tell them what the competitor rates are (if they're lower) and chances are you'll snag a discount to woo you to join.
Tip #2: You Don't Get What You Don't Ask For
Deals vary from gym to gym and aren't always advertised, so members should personally ask about offers and specials, says Mark Daly, national media director for Anytime Fitness. Daly recommends asking "If I pay in full for a year-long membership, can I get free personal training sessions included?"
Related: The Best Fitness Tools for Your Home Gym
Tip #3: Bring Your Friends
Most gyms offer a referral program, so ask your friends and family members if they're interested in joining a gym. You can get a month off, free personal training sessions, and other deals when your pal joins. Plus, having a gym buddy will help you stay motivated!
Tip #4: Go Old-Fashioned
You need a good pair of shoes to help you get through your workout, but you don't need to get the newest version. "Look for closeouts on last season's models," says Jean Knaack, executive director of Road Runners Club of America. "New designs usually come out in the spring, so older versions will be on sale around that time, too." If you find a more recent pair you like, take your search to the Web. Sites like overstock.com offer steep discounts on brands and only charge $2.95 for shipping no matter what you buy. Sounds like the perfect opportunity to get some new workout tees too!
Tip #5: Make Your Sneakers Last
We recommend replacing your running shoes after 300-500 miles, but there are easy ways to keep them in top condition:
• Instead of tossing sweaty sneaks in your closet after your workout, let them air dry in an open space. This will keep them clean and smelling fresh, recommends Knaack.
• Use running shoes only when you're running. It might seem like an obvious tip, but wearing your sneakers while doing daily errands or a cross training class will tack on extra miles that you could have otherwise used up while training for a race. Wear comfortable flats or other shoes instead.
Related: The FITNESS 2012 Sneaker Guide
Tip #6: Go Local
Races and events organized by your local running club and smaller organizations typically have lower entry fees than nationwide, corporate-sponsored events.
Tip #7: Ditch the High-Tech Gadgets
Don't splurge for the watch with 500 features you'll barely be able to work. Chances are you won't utilize most of what it has to offer anyway, says Jade Alexis, NASM trainer for Reebok Sports Club/NY. A simple watch with a timer and a heart rate monitor will do.
Tip #8: Go for Comfort, Not Fashion
We love cute fitness outfits as much as the next girl, but you can save more money by going to discount retailers like Target and Wal-Mart for workout clothes. Staying home to sweat? You can skip the spandex altogether, says Alexis. "Just work out in what you normally wear around the house, as long as you're comfortable."
Related: Alison Sweeney's Couch Workout
Tip #9: Improvise
Get creative before you make a trip to the store. "You can use beach or bath towels for hot yoga and large books as blocks and bolsters," recommends Cyndi Lee, director of Om Yoga studio in New York City.
Tip #10: Stay Connected
The best way to find out about your favorite studio's latest deals? Go online. "Sign up for newsletters and 'Like' them on Facebook," Lee recommends. You can find out about deals like donation-based classes and discounts from new teachers. Some places even use the social network app Foursquare as extra incentive. By "checking in" you could get some cool swag, a free guest pass, or a discount on your next class. Ask the receptionist about any social networking perks.
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