How to Hack Your Workout Routine for More Cost-Effective Classes

Photo: Getty/ Thomas Barwick
There’s nothing like hopping off a spin bike drenched and proud of your killer workout, but those spin and dance cardio classes at your favorite studios can definitely add up. And as the group fitness craze keeps picking up, with new trendy classes like aerial yoga, HIIT, Pilates, barre, and more, it’s no wonder you’re eager to try them all.

Beyond the endorphin-boosting, there’s so much positive energy in these classes, where you become part of a community and never feel bored or burned out. The only problem? They’re pretty damn expensive. And if you’re taking two or more classes a week, they’ll really add up. The good news is you can save on workout classes with a few simple tips, so you can still enjoy your favorite workouts but pay less money each visit or month. Here are a few hacks to try out now.

Look for promo deals

“If you’re on the fence about what workout craze is right for you, plenty of studios and fitness memberships offer free trials or sign-up promos, so you can test different classes and studios to find the right fit for you,” says Keri Danielski, consumer finance expert at Mint and Turbo. What’s more, many studios offer rewards or credits for referring friends, so be on the lookout for eager friends wanting a promo deal, too. “With friends, for example, ClassPass offers a free month trial for friend referrals and money off your membership fee,” she says. Additionally, check to see if your employer provides gym or fitness stipends. Companies will often offer reimbursements as a way to encourage their employees to prioritize a healthy lifestyle and a work-life balance.

Think in the long term

Single workout classes can get pricey, but you can typically find great package or membership deals after your first class if you sign up for a period of time or buy classes in bulk, Danielski says. “Once you’ve found a studio or gym that you love, invest in a membership or annual fee to save more in the long term. One caveat—you don’t want to waste your money by purchasing a large pack and paying more up front if you aren’t going to go to the classes in time. “Just be sure that you will be going enough times to make the cost of each class lower than if you paid for single classes,” she says. Gym memberships can cost a good deal of money to cancel, so make sure you only start memberships with classes and gyms that you can commit to, as well.

Look for studio perks

Once you sign up for a studio or gym, take full advantage of their range of classes and amenities. You might have more perks than simply the classes themselves. “Many workout facilities offer an array of classes, personal trainers, saunas and massages, community events, and occasionally free swag," Danielski says. "Keep an eye out for the perks associated with your membership. These feel like free treats when you forget that you’re technically paying for them."

Schedule one at-home workout for every two classes

You’ve finally found the perfect HIIT instructor and have learned all the major moves? Bring what you learn from your classes to your own living room for a no-equipment workout that’s convenient and free. “If you feel lost leading your own personal class, take to YouTube or a workout app for full-length, virtual exercise classes. With smart home tech and workout videos and apps on the rise, it’s easier than ever to get a good sweat in at home,” Danielski says.

Work out outdoors

Though there’s nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment (and exhaustion) when you walk out of an extra tough fitness class, but you can still get those feel-good endorphins from a great run outside, especially when it’s warm and beautiful out. “It’s also good, and even recommended, to have variety in your workout regimen. Opt for outdoor workouts a couple times a week to balance out your studio classes. That way, you can save some money without compromising sweating it out,” Danielski says. And you’ll get a nice shot of good ol' vitamin D as a bonus.

Go to off-peak classes

Look for off-peak class offerings, as there’s often a reduction in price. “These classes are often offered for a discounted rate because they're harder to fill,” says Corey Phelps, a certified personal trainer in D.C. The exact time depends on the city, but usually 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. tend to be hours where studios struggle to have fully booked classes and will offer discounts up to 50 percent off a standard class rate, he says.

Subscribe to live streaming classes

Lots of popular studios offer live streaming or a recorded library of videos for a reasonable monthly membership, says Phelps. You can workout as much as you like for one fee each month, which is a pretty nice deal. “Live stream or online class memberships tend to be a cheaper way to take advantage of your favorite boutique studio classes. In studio, classes range from $20 to $45 per class and often live stream or online class memberships run from $35 to $100 per month with no limit to how many classes you can watch,” Phelps says.

Work at the gym

Another option? Spend a few hours actually working as a trade for workout time. “Barter your time for classes. If you are willing to trade your time lots of studios offer free classes in exchange for a few hours of work,” says Phelps. If you have a flexible schedule or room, it’s a great option.

Digital fitness tends to be a whole lot more affordable than the traditional studio stuff—here are some of our favorite apps of 2019. Or, for workouts that will cost you exactly $0, check out these YouTube yoga gurus who will lead you through your asanas for free. 

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