Unexpected, Inexpensive Fitness Classes

Sick of your gym, or paying for your gym? Try these surprising alternatives.

yoga class with teacher, photo by Andrea Wyner
Andrea Wyner / Getty Images

Sure, joining a gym is a logical way to gain access to lots of different fitness classes and workouts. But membership fees can be pricey, and keeping up with them month after month adds up. If a gym membership just isn't in your budget, look for inexpensive fitness opportunities from surprising sources like these:

  • Your church: It's there for your spiritual health, but also, often, your physical health as well! See if your church offers fitness classes or exercise meet-ups (like a walking discussion group).
  • Your workplace (or your partner's): Some larger employers have on-site gyms, but even those that don't may offer free or cheap yoga classes or other workout sessions. And they are often open to spouses and retirees too.
  • Your child's school: Some settings provide occasional or ongoing exercise classes or coaching to all members of the school community, including teachers and parents. This is a great project for a school wellness committee.
  • Your local park: Parks and recreation programming isn't just for kids! Check out your community's adult fitness options for dance, swimming, running, tennis, and more.
  • Your child's favorite playground: Take along this playground workout the next time you go. Kids can join you in the workout, or play on their own while you exercise.
  • Your home, online: About's exercise site has dozens of free workout ideas for you. Or you can try apps, like OneSet, which bills itself as "Vine for fitness"; or streaming services such as LiveStreamingFitness ($10/month).
  • Your desk: Equipment such as a standing desk, treadmill desk, or cycling desk/pedaler (like FitDesk or Desk Cycle) requires an initial investment, but once you have the item on hand, you can use it anytime it's convenient at no additional cost. You could add a lot of active time to your day with one of these! Plus, if you already own a treadmill, fitting it with a desk or purchasing a separate desk is not too costly.
  • Your local retail store: Clothing retailer Lululemon is well known for its free yoga classes, held weekly in all of their stores and showrooms. If you have one in your community, take advantage! Also check out locally owned running and biking stores. They often have free coaching, group workout opportunities, and other special events. Get on their email list so you'll be notified about what's available.

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