6 Fun Ways to Get Fit on a Lean Budget

  • Tennis, Everyone? If you're looking for a whole-body workout, tennis will serve perfectly at a price to match any budget.Since you can't play alone, tennis offers a full set of socializing opportunities -- and indoor courts mean you can play year-round. "People who play tennis have an obsessive love for the game," says Ann Bent, managing partner at Palm Tennis Management Group in Palm Beach County, Fla. "It's so good mentally because there's camaraderie, there's fun and it's a great way to meet people."Tennis can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Some private clubs still require players to wear white. In that case, an appropriate courtly appearance can cost more than $100. A personal tennis pro can be expensive, starting at around $40 per hour. But there are ways to save money. Public parks don't have much of a dress code and charge minimal court fees. If you shop around, you may find group lessons for $10 a head.Use the savings for a good racquet -- at $200 or so -- and a pair of shock-absorbing sneakers, which will probably run $70 or more.
  • A Sport That Won't Run You Extra You've probably been running around half your life because you had to -- to the store, to the office, after the kids.Now, run because it's good for you -- and save money, too. "The nice thing about running is it's the most affordable thing you can do," says Jean Knaack, executive director of Road Runners Club of America in Arlington, Va. "You don't have monthly fees, and you can run straight from your front door."Just don't step up your training too quickly. You could get hurt or wake up sore. (Limping ages you.) Instead, start with brisk 30-minute walks, says Knaack. Eventually, weave 10-minute trots into your treks.The investment is minimal, primarily just a good pair of running shoes. Consider going to a specialty shoe store -- RunningNetwork.com maintains a list -- where you'll pay $50 to $100. You can spend more if you want, but a 2008 study by Consumer Reports tested 205 pairs, priced from $28 to $120, and all but four earned a very good overall score.
  • It's an Either-Oar Proposition

    Think rowing is just for Ivy Leaguers and Oxford grads? Think again. You needn't be a blue blood to enjoy this heart-healthy sport and save money.

    Virtually every major city has one or more rowing clubs, and popularity is rising among "masters" rowers, or those age 27 and up. Rowing provides upper- and lower-body workouts because you pull with your arms and kick with your legs. And provided you don't row too gently down the stream, you'll get an impressive calorie burn even though you're sitting.

    Most boathouses welcome the public, and they provide shells for members and indoor rowing machines for inclement weather. There's no special equipment required: You row in your socks.

    Most clubs charge around $200 for beginner lessons and a small initiation fee that's roughly the same. Annual membership is well below most upscale gyms, says Elaine Roden, executive director of the Miami Beach Rowing Club.

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