6 clever tools and apps to help you get around paying for a gym membership

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ClassPass InstagramFind 6 ways to get out of a gym membership below.

  • You don't need a gym membership to get in shape this year. In fact, the inconvenience of one may be one reason your resolution to work out more isn't sticking.
  • Below you'll find six clever tricks to working up a sweat without the commitment and cost of a gym membership.

Signing up for a gym in January is about as American as apple pie. Winter passes in a haze of puffy coats, comforting holiday foods, and gratuitous celebratory drinking. By the time January has rolled around, we're practically itching for a change. We feel gross, we research juicers online, and we sign up at the gym that's always packed at 6 p.m.

But you don't need a gym membership to be healthier, stronger, or more flexible. You can workout consistently - and, yes, be challenged - without the commitment, cost, crowds, and any other string of downsides that keep us from actually using said memberships. And you can do it without paying $30 for a boutique fitness class every time, too.

Below, you'll find six ways to get around signing up for a gym membership. You'll still get a great workout, but you won't be tied down to any fees, locations, or genres if you don't decide to be.

Here's how to get a great workout in without ever committing to a gym:

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Aaptiv

Aaptiv
Start a 30-day trial of Aaptiv for iOS Start a 30-day trial of Aaptiv for Android

Love working out with the help of a personal trainer but lack the time, money, or desire to go in person? Aaptiv is for you.

It's an app that gives you unlimited access to audio workouts led by professional certified trainers. It's cheap (a free 30-day trial and $15 per month after), travels with you, and lets you move at your own pace — plus, you never need to worry about classes filling up or being charged a no-show fee.

There are over 2,500 classes at every level ranging from running, cycling, HIIT, and elliptical workouts to stretching, yoga, and strength training. There are over 30 new classes added each week. You can even use it to train for a marathon (full, half, 10K, or 5K).

Even if you just use it to learn the ins and outs of an exercise, it's worth it to maximize your time and prevent injury. Both Will Tso, co-founder of Routinely, and I have said it's a smarter way to keep yourself motivated in self-workouts, and great for consistency while traveling.

It's also worth noting that while you'll hear the trainer's instructions, there's also typically popular music pairings, just like any other class.

ClassPass

ClassPass
Start a free month of ClassPass

If you're looking for a discount on pricey studio classes, variety, and little commitment, you should try ClassPass.

If you're unfamiliar, ClassPass is pretty simple. You pay a monthly fee that's calculated based on where you live and how many classes per month you want to attend. For five to eight classes, you can expect to pay $49-$79 per month. That means you pay $6-$16 per class—far cheaper than drop-in rates for boutique classes, and likely cheaper than most nice gyms in the area. You can use your membership in 80+ participating cities, get class recommendations, see class reviews, and stream workouts from home for free.

Right now, ClassPass is offering an entire month free. Their usual offer is two weeks. With the trial, you can go to up to six boutique fitness classes in January for $0.

You can find out more about ClassPass and the deal here.

POPiN (NYC specific)

POPiN (NYC specific)
Download POPiN

If you like working out in gyms but hate the commitment of an expensive membership, try POPiN.

POPiN is an app that lets you drop in at gyms, boutique studios, and sometimes clubs, which you pay for by the minute. The clock starts ticking once you've checked in. Rates range from $0.14 to $0.35 per minute depending on the gym, which means you can spend as little as $8.40 per hour for your workout.

POPiN doesn't have a contract, cancellation fee, or require you to plan ahead of time. Just walk in and workout at your own convenience by checking in at the site's front desk tablet.

This is a great option for the lowest amount of commitment possible — aside from a home gym.

Find out more about what POPiN is like in real life in the Insider Picks review.

Home workout gear

Home workout gear
Fit Simplify Resistance Bands, $10.95 RX Jump Rope, $45 or Survival Cross Jump Rope, $10 Bowflex Dumbbells, $299.99 Ab Carver Wheel, $36.99

At-home workouts are a perfectly convenient option for people of all levels of commitment. Start out with something small and unobtrusive, like resistance bands. They're extremely effective, require little exercise space and almost no storage space, and they make a good companion to a Netflix binge. You can also travel with them.

If you don't live in a shoe-box NYC apartment, another highly effective option for beginners and veterans alike is a jump rope. It's one of the best cardio exercises, if not the best. It torches calories quickly, works your entire body, and a widely-cited study found that 10 minutes of jumping rope is as effective as a 30-minute jog. The Rx Jump Rope ($45) has been recommended by celebrity trainers, but you could just get this $10 version with over 4,500 five-star reviews.

If you're ready to commit to more, there's a reason that Bowflex Dumbbells ($230) and this Ab Carver Wheel ($37) inspire cult followings. The Dumbbells combine 15 weights into one adjustable system, and the Ab Carver works abs and arms dynamically — without sit-ups.

Check out related articles on at-home workouts:

Smart leggings

Smart leggings
Nadi X Smart Yoga Pants, $250

Wearable X, an Australian-born, NYC-based fashion tech company, makes a pair of biometric leggings that vibrate to correct your yoga positions. Tiny haptic multi-node sensors sewn into the nylon layers in the hip, knee, and ankle connect to an app on your phone via Bluetooth and communicate about your alignment.

However, these aren't ideal for beginners who will be less adept at deciphering what the correction vibrations are trying to correct. They're pricey, and if you're looking to lose yourself in the spiritual or meditative peace of yoga, buzzing will probably drag you out of that mindset. But, it's cheaper and more convenient than scheduling a personal one-on-one session with an instructor. Find out more in a personal review of the NADI X smart leggings here.

TRX home gym

TRX home gym
TRX Suspension Training System, $149.95

TRX suspension systems — often found in gyms — are full-body workouts that go anywhere, anytime, and work exceptionally well. It was developed by a Navy SEAL to solve the problem of needing to stay in peak physical condition while on the move and far away from the luxury of a gym. It's now used widely by supermodels, pro athletes, Ivy League college sports teams, and the US army.

You can find more details in a personal review here, but the idea is simple: use your body's weight and a full range of motion to increase the body's flexibility and strength. Plus, all you need to set it up is access to a door, tree, wall stud, or rafters in a garage. There's also an app to help you find new and challenging workouts (free for 14 days, $4.99 per month or $39.99 for a year after).

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