A Recessionista’s Guide to Fitness by Raz


  1. Take Advantage of Membership Specials.  A lot of gyms are offering specials right now.  I know at Washington Sports Club (where I go), it’s $0 to join, and last I heard it was $59/month to join.  I believe all of the other gyms around town are offering specials too.  Also, you can get better deals at gyms if you join at the end of the month when the sales people are trying to meet their quota.
  2. Do Trial Memberships.  Many places offer a first class free or a one or two-week free trial.  If you are interested in trying a new hobby such as yoga, boxing or boot camp, the first class is usually free.  If you have time on your hands and don’t mind traveling around town, you can keep trying out free offerings until you settle on something you like and start paying. 
  3. Go Running.  Running is probably the cheapest sport you can do.  All you need is a pair of running shoes and some athletic wear.  When it is winter, make sure you layer your clothes, and if you are running at night, go with a friend.  If you are alone and running at night, it’s best to skip the Ipod, or if you do use it, only wear one ear bud so you can be aware of your surroundings.  Continues after the jump.
  4. Go For a Walk.  Walking is even cheaper than running, although it does not provide the same benefit.  Even if you start walking to work or getting off the Metro one stop early and do extra walking everyday, there is a benefit.
  5. Play Sports.  Round up some friends and go play a sport.   There are a ton of basketball courts, tennis courts and soccer fields around town that are free to use.  All you need to bring is your own gear.
  6. DC Recreation Facilities are Free.  The city has a lot of great recreation facilities that are free to use if you are a resident.  Either bring your license or a proof of residence, such as a piece of mail or a bill. One of my favorite places is the Takoma Recreation Center, located at 300 Van Buren St.  It has a great pool.  There is a gym there as well, which has all the basic equipment, but is not as nice as a private gym.
  7. Go Biking.  After your purchase your bike, helmet and lock, there are no more fees associated with biking.  It is a great workout and a good way to see the city or to travel around.
  8. Workout at Home.  If you are motivated enough, you can get a decent workout at your house.  You don’t even need equipment.  You can do jumping jacks, run in place, do sit-ups, push-ups, etc.  You can also buy free weights, a medicine ball or a jump rope for an added boost.  I took my little brother’s reject medicine ball and free weights from when he was in middle school (now he plays basketball in college and lifts serious weights) and I use them at home sometimes when I don’t feel like going to the gym or I want a quick fitness break.

19 Comment

  • to use the gyms at rec centers now you have to pay a fee… but it’s only 125 for a year membership

  • $59 isn’t bad…I may have to jump on that. I still have one more semester at College Park where they have a great rec center, but I’m only on campus 2 days a week now.

    So how’s the new WSC in Columbia Heights? Anyone go there?

  • Sometimes you can get a discount on WSC or other clubs through your office – I pay about $40 a month for WSC, taken directly out of my paycheck.

  • WSC membership in Columbia Heights is continuing to grow. They are constantly running out of towels. I go there about 5-6 days a week, not too bad in the morning during the week, but it is packed weeknights and could get kind of crowded on saturdays – mid-morning. If you don’t mind going very early or late evenings, it shouldn’t be too bad.

  • While I myself and not a customer of the CH WSC, it has been panned by a lot of folks at the forum over at Columbia Heights News: (http://www.columbiaheightsnews.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=2), mostly for being far too crowded, not enough working machines and towels, and having pretty terrible customer service.

  • Oh wow, thanks for the heads up. I’ve heard a few good things about Fitness First…maybe I’ll check them out first.

  • I’m inclined to think most of the CHN complaints about WSC are from people who had one bad experience as opposed to repeated bad experiences. To be sure, I’ve been there at times when it was very overcrowded and supremely annoying, but at other times, it has been a serene haven of new gym equipment that was mine for the using. There aren’t many places in town where you can walk on the basketball court and just have the whole court to yourself for an hour, which I’ve experienced there. The best way to tell whether you’ll be crowded out or not is to go when you anticipate going regularly, count the number of open treadmills, and see whether the sales person goes out of his/hew way to tell you “this is as crowded as we ever get.” And keep in mind that EVERY gym in town is crowded right now with all the fatties who made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and will give up in a few weeks, so you can probably count on 20% fewer people being there by March. If you want to know who they are, look around for the “gym get-up” — new shoes, iPod, and some fresh Under Armour or Nike Fit — combined with more huffing and puffing than you’d expect from someone in that level of fitness gear. Most of those people will be gone in short order.

  • Does anyone know how much a membership at The Results Gym on Capitol Hill costs? I’d love to get back into climbing and they have the only rock wall in the city.

  • While this isn’t very fun, it’s actually pretty doable:

    Every hour that you’re at your house, on the hour, drop and do 10-20 pushups. At the end of a saturday you’ve done 150 pushups. At the end of a weekend you may have done 250-400 pushups. All you need to do is, wherever you are in your house, do 10-20 pushups at the top of the hour.

  • …Also, you can get better deals at gyms if you join at the end of the month when the sales people are trying to meet their quota.

    This is very, very true especially at WSC (my ex used to be in sales there). Go in mid-month and say no or you need to think about it…and they will come calling at the end of the month with a “special” deal.

  • If you work/office has gym just join it. It’s tons cheaper than joining WSC or Results. I think I pay 10 bucks every two weeks to use a very nice gym at my work. Most government agencies have gyms and some will let you use them for free or near free. And it saves you time by working out at work.

  • Hi Sarah – Results on the Hill is $99/month, I believe. I just joined a different Results for slightly less, you pay a premium at that one for the climbing wall. I think enrollment’s $50 right now. Also, it’s month-to-month, which was important to me.

  • Oh and PS to Sarah – you get a free week to check the place out.

  • I get all the exercise I need by dodging bullets and running from stick-up kids.

  • I’ve been going to the WSC gym about every other day since it opened June, 2008. It is indeed crowded at peak times. Weekday evenings, right after work, are the worst.

  • Can Darkside win a tshirt for that comment too?

  • i recommend the 12 oz curls at the Derby

  • any reviews of fitness first?

  • There are lots of free fitness resouces online. Check out this one – an extensive exercise video library and workouts that you can print out http://www.physicalfitnet.com.

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