It's hard to put a price on health, but the recession might have done just that.
The number of Americans working out at the gym has gone down in spades since 2008, forcing plenty to close up shop.
But the battle of the bulge hasn't quit just because your wallet is slimmer these days. Here's your excuse to act like a cheapskate ... it's GOOD for you:
1. Take a free yoga class: In honor of Yoga Month, 1,000 studios are offering a week of free classes. If there are enough studios in your town, you could get a whole month out of that.
2. Ask the gym for a discount: Yes, they're struggling too. If they want to keep your business, they can work for it.
3. Volunteer as a partner for a dance class: Dancing can be an incredible workout (have you ever seen the legs on those ladies on Dancing With the Stars?), but having a partner is key. Show up at guest dance night at the local studio and see who else is there. People go looking for people who love to dance -- and you might find someone willing to split the cost (or spring for the whole thing).
4. Contact your local school: As long as there is no school-related event going on, some districts allow taxpayers to use the athletic fields for free (hey, you're paying for maintenance). Which could mean a nice track to run on or a place to play soccer with your besties completely gratis.
5. Volunteer as a kids' coach or get a job as a referee: A youth soccer referee spends 90 minutes running. And you can get paid to do it.
6. Hit the park: Pick up soccer games are just waiting for you to join in.
7. Take the dog out for a run: I'm the type of person who can't exercise alone -- I get the social animal issue -- but how many times have you used the "I have no one to walk/run/etc. with" excuse ... then walked to the door and let the dog out to pee alone.
8. Check with the library: A host of libraries are incorporating free yoga and Pilates classes into their patron programming because of the public obesity crisis.
9. Join a nature hiking group: Hiking burns calories too -- and gives you sexy calf muscles from all those uphill climbs. And whoever saw a yellow-bellied warbler at the gym?
10. Use the videos: If you have a cable subscription, flip around for a workout channel or hit the library for free video rentals. If you're bored with yours, check with friends and trade.
11. Hit the apparel shops: To convince you to buy their clothes, places like Lululemon offer free classes.
12. Use the kids' playground: It's open, it's free, and you can do chin-ups, push-ups, and more.
13. Hit the local kids' football stadium: Run steps on the bleachers for nada.
Needless to say there's plenty you can do at home too for nothing. But if you need to get out of the house to get a workout, don't say you're too broke.
What's your secret for cutting workout costs?
Image via mikebaird/Flickr