Save Money on your Gym Membership

I love working out. Being fit is an important part of staying healthy; weight training has made me strong and I enjoy running and cycling on sunny days. But going to the gym was becoming such a pain, and eating up a lot of my time travelling between work and the gym and home.

I have a pretty busy schedule and highly variable workload; I can be away for weeks and then some days I’ll finish work in the early hours of the mornings. The time commitment of going to the gym was just getting too much, and I wasn’t even attending the same gym regularly, so it had to go.

I did something better. I started working out at home. I didn’t go out and spend thousands of dollars on a fancy machine that takes up heaps of space with pulleys and cables and multiple seats and bars, nothing like that. What I picked up was a few simple weights which set me back $300, and then later down the track I picked up some more second hand equipment to give me more workout options.

The fact is that on average we spend over $65 a month on gym memberships. That’s over $780 a year, not even factoring in the time and cost we spend on transportation to get there. Starting up my car and driving to the gym was just something that didn’t sit right with me fundamentally, and since giving it the flick in favour of home workouts I have saved thousands.

The gear

I started out with a very basic set up that cost me $300. Just a barbel, some weights and some Rammstein playing in my earphones for some amazing total body workouts. I found some second hand gym equipment on an online classifieds, which was going cheap and was pretty much brand new anyway.

The fact is that gyms are always getting new equipment and rotating stock so there is a lot of second hand gym equipment especially in major towns and cities. The best time to buy is probably February or March when everyone slacks off from their New Years resolutions, or around the end of the financial year when gyms are upgrading and flogging off their old inventory.

Weight (resistance) training

Specifically I bought;

  • One standard Olympic weightlifting bar – 7ft / 44lb (20kg)
  • Set of Olympic plates – 2x11lb, 2x22lb, 2x33lb, 2x44lb (5,10,15,20kg)

I bought these from a Personal Trainer, and paid $100 for the bar and $200 for the weights. This was a pretty good deal, as usually gym weights seem to retail for around $4 per kilo new (~$2/lb) and about $2 per kilo second hand (~$1/lb).

Captainfi, fi, gym, quit gym
A basic Olympic barbell and bumper plates is all you need for amazing total body workouts

As it turns out, Olympic weightlifting movements was all I was doing at the gym anyway (and is the core foundation of all good training programs). I was able to do all of these movements at home and having a range of plates meant I could target the exact training weights I wanted.

After a few months of casually browsing online classifieds, I found some bargains and picked up some more gym gear;

  • An adjustable padded bench for benchpressing for $20
  • A squat rack (sometimes called a power-lifting cage) for $300
  • Some adjustable weight dumbells for $30
  • 6sqm of rubber floor tiles for $20 each.
Dumbbell, Dumb-Bell, Bar-Bell, Barbell, Weight, Captainfi, fi, gym, quit gym
The Adjustable bench lied flat, with the variable weight dumbells

All in all, my total spend on weightlifting equipment was $770. I pretty much decked out a corner of my apartment balcony with an awesome home gym, which meant I could smash out my workouts in the morning before work, or when I got home. I especially love that I don’t even have to leave home on the weekends now to get my workouts done.

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I picked up a second hand squat rack just like this one

So what about the cardio?

Well I am pretty fortunate in that I happen to live in an apartment in an awesomely situated neighbourhood, nestled between two really long creeks with well designed paved nature trails and adjacent to two massive sporting complexes. These have AFL and Rugby ovals, Soccer (football) and hockey pitches as well as Track and field areas with running tracks that are all well lit up like stadiums at night. So when it’s nice out, I am out there amongst the fresh air and nature.

When the weather is inclement, or I want to warm up for a weight training session, I just jump on my spin bike or rower machine on my balcony. Again, I couldn’t help myself but pick up these bargains; the spin bike was being thrown out as part of someone’s hard refuse (and worked perfectly fine!) and the rower was $10 (evidently someone also just wanted it gone).

Captainfi, fi, gym, quit gym
A second hand spin bike just like this sits on my balcony now for warm ups and spin sesh’s
Captainfi, fi, gym, quit gym
I have a rower machine as well for warming up the upper body and mixing up cardio on those rainy days

Gym routine

Just to show you the kind of awesome workouts I can do at home, check out my current program. It’s been designed specifically for me by a personal fitness trainer with the unique needs of pilots in mind (because of the strain on my neck and back). It’s also designed to be quick and fun, to fit in with a busy lifestyle. It’s a great program which I have given to many of my friends too.

LA exercises: Lower abdominal strengthening exercises which is a combination of yoga and core strength poses or lifts

Theraband exercise: Neck strengthening exercise using resistance rubber bands of various intensity. Essentially you look like an Uuuuber Goofball, but you put the rubber bands around your head and stretch them out, placing strain on your neck in various directions and activating different muscle groups.

Repetition range: The repetition is the number of movements you do per set of exercises, and the set number is how many times you do a group of lifts with a rest in between per workout session. I am not a bodybuilder or a scientist, but from what I can tell running a lower repetition workout with higher weights like a 5×5 routine will help you to deliver strength the quickest. Higher repetition ranges with lower weights should help more with toning/developing more beach muscles. I usually give myself a minute to do a set of reps, and then rest for about 1-2 minutes between sets.

Cardio: Ideally I go out and pound the pavement in my runners or use my bicycle, but if the weather’s crappy or I am really short on time, I can use my spin cycle or rower machine in my home gym.

Day One/Monday: 45 min

3 km jog (target speed: 12kph for 15 minutes)
LA exercises – 10 min
Head theraband exercises – 10 min
Abdominal exercise (sit ups, Roman crunch etc) – 10 min

Day Two/Tuesday: 50 min

1km staged warm up – 10 min
Stretches – 4 min
Benchpress – 5×5 -12 min
Back squat – 5×5 – 12 min
Deadlift – 5×5 – 12 min

Day Three/Wednesday: 50 min

Fartlek / Interval training – 20 minutes
LA exercises – 10 min
Head theraband exercises – 10 min
Abdominal exercise (sit ups, Roman crunch etc) – 10 min

Day Four/Thursday: 50 min

1km staged warm up – 10 min
Stretches – 4 min
Military press – 5×5- 12 min
Back squat – 5×5 – 12 min
Bent over row – 5×5 – 12 min

Day Five/Friday: 45 min

5 km cycle/row (target speed: 20kph for 15 minutes)
LA exercises – 10 min
Head theraband exercises – 10 min
Abdominal exercise (sit ups, Roman crunch etc) – 10 min

Day Six/Saturday: 50 min

1km staged warm up – 10 min
Stretches – 4 min
Benchpress – 5×5 – 12 min
Back squat – 5×5 – 12 min
Deadlift – 5×5 – 12 min

Day Seven/Sunday: 50 min

1km staged warm up – 10 min
Stretches – 4 min
Dumbbell curls 5×5 – 12 min
Wrist curls 5×5 – 12 min
Reverse wrist curls 5×5 – 12 min

This is my pseudo rest day; I don’t do any heavy lifting and have been experimenting with some light accessory training. Because I was failing on my dead lifts in grip and wrist strength fatiguing before other muscle groups, I am working on improving my grip strength with dumbbell wrist curls.


So I didn’t really quit the gym, I just stopped going to one. And now I never have to worry about or pity the fools curling in the squat rack, or about occupied treadmills or sweaty benches that haven’t been wiped down. And my earphones don’t have to compete with a terrible remix of the Vengaboys or radio advertisements.

Having a home gym gives me the flexibility I need to keep up with my training needs in a busy schedule, saved me valuable time I would have otherwise spent commuting and has also saved me thousands of dollars already. This means I can stay fit and continue to grow stronger physically, as well as financially each day. One day I’ll be strong enough to retire, and you can be too!


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