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Looking After The Pennies Whilst Losing The Pounds

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Although gym membership in the UK is estimated to total 7.5 million adults, it’s been calculated that around 10% of those who pay don’t actually go. You know the feeling – after the excesses of the festive season, your New Year resolution is to get in shape so you enrol at a gym. Your willpower lasts until February and then your real life gets in the way and your visits slowly peter out although you continue paying.

With gym membership possibly costing thousands, our guide to exercise considers:

  • Whether joining a gym is worth it
  • Cheaper alternatives to gyms
  • Events organised in UK parks
  • Other group activities
  • Exercising alone
  • Working out at home
  • How to make exercising part of your daily routine
  • If you still prefer the gym – How to make savings

Before we consider cheaper alternatives to working out at a gym, let’s look at whether it’s worth paying gym subscription fees.



Is joining a gym worth it?

Some people argue that gym membership ensures that they will work out but if you don’t possess the discipline and determination in the first place, no amount of gym equipment is going to get you to make that commitment to actually go to the gym.

If you’re a novice at exercising or have health problems, then consulting a trainer at a gym can prevent you suffering an injury since they’ll be able to give you tips on how to exercise safely and what exercises are suitable for you.

To get the most out of your gym membership, you have to work out how much you’ll be using the facilities. It’s pointless enrolling for a year if you’ll be going just once or twice a week. In this case, it would be much cheaper to use a broker site like PayasUGym, which issues passes for about 2,500 gyms across the UK covering 90% of postcodes. All you have to do is register and select a pass; gyms must offer at least a 10% discount on their prices and some are much more. As well as cheap day passes, they also have a range of 5-day, 30-day and 90-day passes.

A picture of two ladies running on treadmills at the gym

Many luxury gyms boast sauna and spa facilities and this is reflected in their fees. If you rarely use these facilities, then it might be worth joining a budget gym. They might not offer these pricey facilities but can work out at a tenth of the price.

If even the £12-£20 monthly fees for budget gyms are beyond your means, what other alternatives are there if you want to stay in shape?

Local authority leisure centres

There are many leisure and sports centres spread across the whole of the country. Heavily-subsidised by local councils, their facilities vary in quality and range but most offer exercise classes, court/equipment hire and a swimming pool. You can choose to pay for each visit, become a member (and receive discounts) or pay an annual subscription fee. There are also a range of concessionary fees for families, those on benefits or pensioners. If you dislike the idea of exercising alone, take advantage of their family events or why not book a court and organise a game with a group of friends and colleagues?

University facilities

Does your home town have a university? If so, many of the universities open their sports facilities to non-students at much cheaper rates than private gyms. Contact the university to see if they have a scheme like this.

Many universities open their sports facilities to the public for cheap rates

Events organised in UK parks

Exercising in the outdoors is much more enjoyable than being stuck in a sweaty gym and there are a number of organised events held in our parks completely free of charge.

Park run

Started in 2004, Park Run is a 5K run held every Saturday morning at 9am in parks across the UK. You can register online at parkrun.org.uk and you’ll be given a barcode to print out so your time can be scanned. Don’t worry if you aren’t particularly fit as you can walk the course. It’s a great opportunity to exercise and also meet others.

Park lives

Organised in association with local councils, Park Lives is a scheme held in 130 locations in large UK cities and offers free exercise classes for both adults and children. There are nearly 70 different types of classes including yoga, pilates, Zumba and military-style Bootcamp and some are held in community centres during the winter months. To find out what’s available near you, go to their site at ParkLives and enter your postcode.

Exercising in the outdoors is much more enjoyable than being stuck in a sweaty gym and there are a number of organised events held in our parks completely free of charge.

Our parks

Established in 2014, the Our Parks scheme is very similar to the Park lives scheme but works in 50 locations predominantly in the London boroughs. All exercise classes last an hour and are colour-graded according to your fitness level. Go to ourparks.org.uk for what’s on near you.

Other group activities

Meetup.com is only available in and around the London area at the moment but it offers exercise classes in everything from dancing to hill walking and to suit all age groups and fitness levels. Classes start from £5 so it’ll give you the chance to try something new without making a longer commitment. There are also many free events which give you the opportunity to get fit and meet new people as well.

Do you fancy helping the environment and getting in shape at the same time? The Conservation Volunteers offers Green Gyms in 95 locations across the country where your exercising is put to good use!

Exercising alone

A elderly lady is jogging alone at the park

Walking and jogging

Why not take advantage of the many parks, recreation grounds and playing fields to get fit by walking or jogging? All it’d cost would be the price of a good pair of trainers. For those new to exercise, the best way to start is with the Couch to 5K programme prepared by the NHS. All you have to do is download the app on a MP3 or other mobile device and it guides you through a fitness programme over a period of 9 weeks.

If you feel that you’re likely to lapse and give up after a while, why not ask your partner, a friend or neighbour to go running/jogging with you? In the this way, you’d encourage each other to persevere.

Combining aerobic exercise with a work-out

If you want to combine cardio-vascular exercise with a work-out concentrating on flexibility and strength, the NHS also have a download of equipment-free exercises. A similar programme, lasting 31 days, is available from the National Trust. With the emphasis on ‘The world is your gym’, the free download shows you how you can use trees and other parts of the natural environment as part of your programme.

An estimated 700 council-owned parks and some Forestry Commission land contain free outdoor gyms consisting of equipment like parallel bars and leapfrog blocks for you to incorporate into your work-out programme.

If you want to combine cardio-vascular exercise with a work-out concentrating on flexibility and strength, the NHS also have a download of equipment-free exercises.

Cycling

Although the Cycling UK estimates that the average cost of a bike is £480, you can find ones which are considerably cheaper especially if you look for a second-hand one. Although some cyclists prefer to cycle alone, it’s also an activity you can do with family and friends while you can find details of cycling clubs in your area on the website cyclinguk.org.

Working out at home

The advantage of working out at home is that you fit exercise into your daily routine and you don’t need to make the journey to the gym so you save both time and money.

A mother is exercising at home with her children

Making a DIY gym at home needn’t cost a fortune in expensive gym equipment. Bought new, you would need about £250 for an exercise mat, some dumb-bells and a rowing machine/exercise bike and much less if you purchased them second-hand.

Alternatively, there are a wide variety of exercise DVDs or videos on the internet for all age groups, abilities and interests.

Making exercise part of your daily routine

As well as general exercise programmes, you can also find specialised workouts online which show you how to make your workout part of your daily routine. Whether you’re doing the housework, the gardening or at work at a desk-bound job, you’ll find an exercise programme to suit your activity.

You can find specialised workouts online to suit your daily activities

Apart from these exercise programmes, just changing some of your habits can make a difference to your fitness levels. Walking instead of taking the car for every journey and taking the stairs and not the lift are just some of the things you can do to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and incorporate exercise into your daily routine rather than compartmentalising it as a separate part of your life.

Still prefer the gym?

If you still prefer the convenience of a gym, see if there are discounts available if you use the gym at off-peak times, for joining with your partner or if they offer corporate membership. In these ways, you can save 10-20%.



Before signing any contract with them, check the terms and conditions especially your rights to cancel your membership. Some memberships renew automatically so know when it expires and give notice of cancellation in time.

Conclusion

The benefits of regular exercise go without saying. However, it needn’t cost you thousands to keep fit since there are plenty of alternatives on offer whatever you decide to do and whether you prefer to exercise alone or have company. All you need is discipline and willpower and that is true of any kind of exercise.

About the author

Faith Hastings

Faith is a proud mother of three and runs a busy home. She has a lot of experience in housefold finance and loves to write articles for familymoney.co.uk

Faith enjoys shopping, travelling and spending time with her family.

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About The Author

Faith Hastings

Faith is a proud mother of three and runs a busy home. She has a lot of experience in housefold finance and loves to write articles for familymoney.co.uk

Faith enjoys shopping, travelling and spending time with her family.

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