Running always seems like a cheap and easy way to exercise, until there’s a rainstorm or a blizzard or a 100-degree day. Then you start to get jealous of people who have treadmills in their basements…and people who have gym memberships. Here are a few ways you can get in that essential run when the weather just isn’t cooperating.
Look for a community fitness center
Many cities have a fitness center that’s free or cheap for residents—and it’s often a well-kept secret. Check out high schools, which sometimes offer access to their facilities on the weekends or other times schools aren’t in session. You may have to pay for a day pass, but they’re often affordable. Check for day-pass access at the local Y as well.
Use a service that lets you pay by the minute
Flexit and Popin both sell gym access by the minute, although they are only available in a few cities so far. (Flexit has locations in “New York, New Jersey, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Arizona, Illinois, and Florida.” Popin appears to be New York City only.) On the Flexit app, we easily found gyms going for as little as $5/hour and as much as $30. If you only need to pay for an occasional run, a gym’s pricing may be cheaper than getting a membership (or your own treadmill).
In some locations, Classpass credits can get you access to open gym time. Classpass operates on a subscription basis (prices vary by location) and it’s mostly geared toward people who want to take classes. But some of the “classes” are just slots of open gym time—again, depending on location. You could also opt for cardio classes in place of your running workout. If there are a few convenient gyms on Classpass near you, and if the pricing works out in your favor, it can be a good way to get an occasional treadmill session.
Look for free trials at commercial gyms
We aren’t saying to abuse the free trials, but if your friend’s gym has a “bring a friend” special, why not go? Maybe you’ll like it.
Suck it up and buy a membership to the cheapest gym in town
Even if you don’t love the vibe of a Planet Fitness or whatever gym is squeezed into your nearest strip mall, a lot of these gyms offer cheap memberships, like $10 to $20 per month. Watch out for hidden fees—but do the math, because sometimes a cheap monthly rate plus added fees is still pretty cheap.
If you don’t mind skipping a workout every now and then, maybe you don’t need the treadmill. Fine, your choice. But if you’re following a plan and need to get the day’s miles in, the cost of a cheap monthly fee, or paying a little more for the occasional day pass, may actually make sense.