Expensive personal trainer? No thank you. Here are my favorite cheap ways to get in shape and stick to my routine.

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I’m not afraid of failing my fitness goals, getting swarmed by the January gym-goers or having to hide signs of my Christmas feasting under thick jackets. What I am afraid of are those gym membership and personal training prices!

We all say we want to save money and get fit in the New Year, but gyms can bleed our wallets dry with high initiation fees, costly monthly payments and personal training sessions (which run an average of $50 per hour, according to the latest figures from the National Strength and Conditioning Association).

You might feel like you have to make a choice between saving money and exercising with a great trainer. After many years of missing my New Year’s fitness targets and wasting money on gym memberships I barely used, here are some of the best cheap ways to get in shape that I’ve discovered.

Fitness Apps

Who needs a personal trainer when you have dozens of free, kick-butt fitness apps available at your fingertips? A simple search in the Android and iTunes app stores will bring up countless apps, but here’s a starter list of the best ones I’ve tried and loved:

My Fitness Pal (free)
This is one of the most well-known fitness apps out there. I downloaded it when I first started caring about counting calories and abandoning my comfy couch potato lifestyle and wow! When you first start out, you input your current weight and goal weight in order to calculate the number of calories you should aim for each day. From there, you can record your snacks and meals in a digital diary and track your exercise and weight loss progress with the nifty graph feature. It also comes with some cool bonuses like nutrition information, reminders, and a step tracker to sync with a Fitbit or related wearable device.

Runtastic Apps ($0-$4.99)
The first time I used the Runtastic Six Pack Abs Workout app, my abs hurt for 3 days — and looked awesome! Know the old phrase, “No pain, no gain”? Well the Runtastic apps certainly give you the workout your body deserves, with ample rest time in between the exercises. Just watch your animated fitness trainer and listen to the instructions to learn each exercise. Try Runtastic Running and Fitness (the $4.99 PRO version of the app comes with GPS features), Runtastic Six Pack Abs Workout and the Runtastic Bodyweight Strength Training Pack ($4.99 for 4 ad-free apps, including squats, push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups). Depending on what area you want to focus on, Runtastic has a little something for everyone.

YouTube Workouts

Personal trainers who tailor a workout and meal plan just for you can be pricey, but did you know you still have access to hundreds of qualified personal trainers for free on YouTube? I get bored with the same workout so easily, so I like trying new videos a few times per week. Check out these awesome videos and add them to your repertoire as well.

This is one of the most popular YouTube fitness channels and for good reason! Whether you’re just starting out or already a gym pro, who doesn’t want top-notch trainers, quick and powerful workouts (there’s even a 7-Minute Workout series), and a variety of exercises to target different areas? Oh yeah, and it’s all free.

Have you seen the prices of yoga classes these days? Yikes. Throw in the cost of specialty clothing and mats and you’re looking at an investment of a couple hundred dollars. But don’t let prices dissuade you from trying yoga. DoYogaWithMe streams hundreds of free yoga videos for all experience levels, so you can relax and stretch back in the comfort of your own home.

Tone It Up
Booty, abs, challenges, cardio, yoga … What workout doesn’t this channel have? Most workouts range from 11 to 25 minutes and are excellent alternatives to struggling with complicated equipment at the gym. It’s free, super fun, and super motivating. What’s not to love?

Groupon and Living Social Deals

When I started losing interest in my local gym and wanted to eliminate the expense, I canceled the gym membership and signed up for some cycling classes through Groupon. After a few classes, I realized I had discovered a wonderful new way to torch calories that I wouldn’t have known about if not for the Groupon offering a super cheap alternative I couldn’t refuse.

When you visit the Living Social or Groupon websites, you’ll see several options for health and fitness services in your area. Sometimes you can get between 40% and 70% off group fitness classes, personal training, or exercise equipment. Not only do sites like this offer plenty more cheap ways to get in shape, you might just discover your new favorite workout!

Good luck sticking to your fitness goals this year. Hopefully the suggestions above can help you stay on track!

Written by Kelly Kehoe

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