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Five ways to get fit for less

A resolution to get fit should not require

A resolution to get fit should not require slimming your wallet, experts say. Photo Credit: Fotolia

The start of a new year inspires many of us to commit to get fit and live a healthier life. Required: steeling your resolve to eat right and exercise. Not required: emptying your wallet just to break a sweat and shed a few pounds.

It doesn't cost a dime to go for a run, do push-ups and abdominal crunches, or set your DVR and do a Zumba or yoga routine at home.

But even if you feel you need to enlist a personal trainer or join a fitness club, you don't have to spend a bundle. Here are tips on how to tackle your New Year's fitness resolutions without straining your finances.

1. Use free trials. Gyms will usually let prospective customers try out their facilities free of charge for a day, sometimes even a week. If you have several gyms in your area, take advantage of their free trial periods before making a yearlong commitment.

2. Avoid the rush. Put off joining a gym until February, after the New Year's sign-up rush is over, says Jeff Kaplan, chief executive of coupon website The fitness club industry is highly competitive, so gyms typically offer deals throughout the year, he says.

3. Flex your negotiating skills. You've finished your free trials and you've chosen your gym. Now dust off your haggling skills. "The more gyms in your area, the more power you have," says Kaplan. Find rival gyms' ads and ask the fitness club of your choice to match the deal.

4. Try the buddy system. Personal trainers can help clients get the most out of their workouts. They can also cost quite a bit. The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association estimates that, on average, a personal training session runs from $38 to $82, with many upscale trainers charging as much as $150. Cut the cost by finding a trainer who will take on two people at once for less than the combined cost of two individual lessons.

5. Look for employer or health-plan discounts. Your health insurance company or employer may offer a discount to certain gyms. Government employees and union members, among others, may also qualify for so-called wellness discounts.

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