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12 Free Fitness Ideas to Start the New Year

You don't need to join a gym. Here are some workout plans that won't cost you anything.

With the holidays over and bathing-suit season just a few months away, people begin to reevaluate their exercise routine. Is it time to step it up? Should you join a gym?

According to Statistic Brain, the average cost of a monthly gym membership is $58, yet 67 percent of people with gym memberships never use them.

If you are looking to save a little money and still feel comfortable on the beach, check out these exercise options that won’t cost you a dime.

Borrow workout DVDs

Whether you enjoy the calming stretches of yoga or the more intense workouts of P90, your local library carries a variety of exercise videos for all skill levels. Most are one-week rentals, which gives you the opportunity to try several exercise routines.

Tune into YouTube

Discover thousands of cardio, fat-burning, dance, yoga and general fitness videos. With YouTube available on so many devices, there is no excuse for not finding a time and place to exercise. Head to the park, close your office door or workout in the privacy of your home.

Window shop at the mall

Lace up your shoes and head to the mall for free indoor exercise. Walking at 3 mph can burn more than 200 calories per hour. The free Map My Run app will track your pace, time, distance and calorie burn.

Do the stairs

Head to a hotel or office building and take the stairs. Set the timer on your phone or count the number of flights you take. Can’t get away from home? If you have stairs in your house, turn on some music and start climbing. Want to get outside? Try the bleachers at the high school.

Jump rope

Every garage has an old jump rope or tie down rope. Get out in the sun and start jumping. This is an easy activity to involve your older kids. Try it as a competition the one who jumps the fewest times has to do the dishes.

Go old school

Remember middle-school gym class? Put on a T-shirt and shorts and start with the basics. Try jumping jacks, pushups, sit ups, squats and lunges. Look on Pinterest or Google “calisthenics routines” for ideas.


Invite your girlfriends to come over and crank up the tunes for a kitchen dance party. If your kids have a game console, ask them to play Just Dance with you. If you don’t have the game, borrow it from a friend.

Get outside and run

You see joggers everywhere on trails, city streets or in local parks. For motivation, sign up for a 5K with a friend or spouse.

Use what you have

Make your own weights by filling water bottles and milk jugs with water or sand. Place on a scale and mark the weight
 on the bottle. Look online for exercise routines that use kitchen chairs, walls or stairs.

Do some spring cleaning

Now is the perfect time to clean out
 the attic, crawl space or basement. When you lift boxes, move furniture or do heavy cleaning you can burn up to 400 calories per hour.

Play sports at the park

Pull out the soccer ball, tennis racket or basketball for a pick-up game with family or friends. For added exercise, bike or walk to the park.

Hike at a state or county park

State and county parks are free and open year round. Grab a trail map and enjoy a nature hike. Many parks allow dogs on their leashes so bring your four-legged friend for some exercise, too.

Pam Molnar is a freelance writer.

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