5 tips for staying fit while saving money
(Photo: US Marines, Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres)

Physical fitness is essential for service members throughout their military careers. But staying in shape and making healthy nutritional choices are also important for every member of the family. Regardless of fitness level or experience, there are endless ways for military families to meet their fitness needs.

Here are 5 tips for military families to help save money on your fitness journey:

1. On-base fitness centers

Being a member of a local gym allows you to meet up with other fitness-minded friends who offer motivation, keeps you from having to buy expensive equipment and helps you avoid the exercise boredom rut thanks to various options for fitness classes.

But gyms aren’t cheap.

That’s why it’s so great to have the option to work out at fitness centers on base, which are free on most installations for service members and their families. MWR fitness centers and gyms offer just as much, if not more, than all those fancy gyms that cost an arm and a leg. You’ll find cardiovascular and weight-lifting equipment, basketball and racquetball courts, and group classes like spinning, zumba, yoga and prenatal fitness. There are pools for lap swimming, lessons, and water aerobics. There are personal trainers, nutrition classes, and even intramural sports programs, such as flag football, soccer and golf.

Different installations offer different equipment and programs so check with your local installation for specifics.

2. Other gyms and health clubs

Don’t live near a military installation or prefer to work out off base? Some gyms and health clubs offer military discounts on membership and enrollment fees.

Gold’s Gym offers 20% off monthly dues and a discounted enrollment fee, and 24 Hour Fitness offers a membership discount program for active military personnel and their families.

The International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) created the Joining Forces Network to provide free health club memberships to the families of deployed Reservists and National Guard members.

Participating YMCA’s offer military discounts, but it varies by location and sometimes by branch of service, so make sure to ask.

Many local CrossFit gyms also advertise military discounts on membership packages. But even if the discount isn’t on the website, go ahead and ask for it anyway.

3. Sports

Are you a runner? MWR also helps military families as they reach their fitness goals through fun runs and races. Many races are even free! Some areas, such as Hampton Roads in Virginia, offer plenty of opportunities to keep you running on a regular basis. Race schedules vary so contact your local MWR office for more details.

Military discounts are available for other runs as well. In the past, the Marine Corps Marathon and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series offered military members discounts on registration. You also never know about military discounts available for local races so always ask.

Do you stay in shape on the ski slopes during the winter? Click here for a list of ski resorts that offer military discounts.

Are you a golfer? Click here for golf-related military discounts.

4. Fitness certifications

Do you love fitness so much you want to share your knowledge and enrich the lives of others through instruction?

Beachbody offers their Military Waiver Program for new or existing coaches who are active duty military, Reservists or veterans. This program allows those qualified to waive the monthly Coach Business Service Fee indefinitely. New coaches will receive a refund of their Coach Business Starter Kit fee.

The American Council on Exercise or ACE is a nonprofit fitness certification, education and training provider. And they want to show their appreciation for service members and their families by offering 20% off materials as well as the chance for veterans to apply for full scholarships. ACE also participates in the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA), both of which offer financial assistance as you pursue your certification.

5. Apparel and equipment

You can’t keep up a successful fitness plan without the proper gear, including the right clothes, shoes and equipment. A great place to start is your local Exchange. Shop around first and take advantage of their price match policy.

If you’re shopping at malls or outlets, don’t forget to ask for a military discount in every store you visit. Malls like the MacArthur Center in Norfolk, Virginia offer military discounts in many of their stores. And outlets like Tanger Outlets offer discounts and free coupon books.

By Heather Sweeney,

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