Working Out on a Budget – How to Get the Best Gym Deals Without Spending Top Dollar

by Katie Andrews

Are you moving to a new city for graduate school? Or maybe you are leaving a full-time job to pursue a higher calling. Either way, you are going to be something close to broke for the next couple years of your life. There are certain parts of your life that are non-negotiable: rent, food, books, and post-exam cocktails will all need to remain as high priorities. So what often gets tossed to the wayside? That expensive gym membership.

For those of you that are joining the Tufts community this coming fall, you will be happy to know that there is a gym that is free to students in the basement of the Sackler Library. However the city also boasts a wide array of individual exercise studios from bikram yoga to pilates reformer to Core Fusion. But as you may have guessed, these classes come at a premium price. Or so I thought…

Let me back up a moment.

As an unpaid intern (the most common kind) in New York City this summer, I knew that exercise was going to be a challenge. I am not a natural runner, so taking it to the streets wasnt really an option. I normally teach spin classes back in Boston, but I wasnt particularly interested in trying to get a 3-month gig here in NYC. I found out within days of being hired that the company I was working for didnt allow interns to use the gym (a worthwhile question to ask). So I set about looking for other solutions.

First off, most gyms offer student rates. I found that both New York Sports Club (which has a Boston affiliate appropriately named Boston Sports Club) and Equinox (with a Boston location on Dartmouth St.) would give me special deals when I explained that I was only here for 3-months and that I was a student. I decided to splurge and treat myself to the Equinox membership, mainly due to their state-of-the-art spin studios.

However, I began to realize that I also had an opportunity to try the boutique studios I had been hearing so much about over the past few years. Which led me to my second solution: discount sites. I signed up for every discount site I knew of with access to NYC (Living Social, Lifebooker, Daily Candy, Gilt City, Buy With Me, Groupon, Rue La La; all have sites for Boston except Lifebooker).  Within days the deals were flowing in.

77% off Personal Training and Classes in Midtown! (Buy With Me)
$35 for One Month of Unlimited Yoga in the West Village! (Groupon)
$23 for 2 Core Fusion classes at Exhale Spa! (Lifebooker)
54% off 4 ActivCore Classes at Pilates on 5th! (Daily Candy)

The list goes on and on with new deals emerging every day. So far, I have had the opportunity to try 5 new studios, and not a single one at full price.

Back in Boston there are other ways to take advantage of student rates. Always ask at small studios about special pricing; Back Bay Yoga, Bikram Yoga Boston, Sadhana Yoga Studio, and Karma Yoga Studio offer student discounts while Life in Synergy and Boston Body Pilates offer their first class for free. Recycle Studio in the South End has sponsored student-discounted rides, targeting a population of individuals who deserve a great workout, even on a budget.

If your favorite studios don’t offer a discount, reach out to them and ask if they would consider it. The population of Boston swells from September-May with students and any club looking to boost numbers would be shortsighted not to consider getting more students in the door.

While as Boston residents we are lucky enough to have great running, biking, and hiking nearby, there are also a multitude of opportunities for trying some new and exciting forms of exercise without breaking the bank. I am looking forward to trying at least 5-6 more new studios with the discounts I have bought in NYC and will most definitely continue this melting pot approach upon my return to Beantown.

Most importantly, don’t let a graduate school budget deter you from getting your sweat on. The Friedman School is founded on promoting healthy living and a better environment – we are here to set an example, so get online and find those fitness deals!

Katie Andrews is entering her 2nd her as a dual Nutrition Communications/DPD student at the Friedman School. She is currently interning at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute in New York City and is enjoying all the city has to offer – especially in terms of food! She looks forward to returning to Boston in the fall to start the role of Editor-in-Chief of The Sprout.

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