Hey, I get it. America’s economy isn’t what you’d call firing on all cylinders right now. Unemployment is high. Bank accounts are light. Morale is low. But don’t use our country’s semi-crappy financial situation as an excuse to have a semi-crappy body. There are lots of ways you can get ripped and lean for little or no money. Here are five great options. Yes, one involves a sledgehammer.

1. Try Out Gyms for Free
If you profess interest in joining them, most gyms will give you a week of free membership (or, like, five free day passes). Now let’s say you’ve got four or five gyms in your area. Space your free weeks a bit apart, and you’ve got a month and a half of high-end fitness right there. And it doesn’t cost you a dime.

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Gym managers are like used car salesmen: they’re looking to make deals. So be a tough customer. Isn’t your body more important than a hatchback?

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2. Don’t Hate, Negotiate
Gym managers are like used car salesmen: they’re looking to make deals. So be a tough customer with these tips: 1. The best time to join a gym is the last two weekends of the month. That’s when salespeople are eager to make their quotas. 2. Sundays are the best day—there are often fewer people at the gym, meaning more time to negotiate. 3. Ask if they’ll beat the rates of the other gyms you’ve visited. 4. Ask for extras—free personal training sessions, free smoothies, a free first month. You’d do the same if you were buying a car. Isn’t your body more important than a hatchback?

3. Work Out for Free at Home
Then again, you don’t even need a gym. Here are six great, short-burst exercises you can do for free in your home:

1. Do planks and push-ups on your bed.

2. Stand on a pillow and do single-leg squats.

3. Grab a towel, get into a push-up position on your linoleum or hardwood floor, and push the towel out to the side and back, or out in front of you and back. (It’s like a wobble board, and it’ll work your stability muscles and core.)

4. Grab a milk carton, fill it halfway with water, and you’ve got a homemade Shake Weight. Make another one, stand up and shake both of them for 10 minutes. Notice your arms burning.

5. Got some old tires? Throw them in the backyard and do tire drills like you’re at an NFL training camp, running and jumping through them.

6. Then grab a sledgehammer and pound one of those tires 25 times. See if you’re not out of breath. And feeling like a total badass.

Come on, if a horse can do it, you can do it.

4. Go Outside
Forget the $800 treadmill or StairMaster. Buy a jump rope for $10. Buy a $15 yoga mat. Take ’em outside and soak up the sun while you get healthier. Also, last time I checked, it was free to run in the park.

Cheap fitness and a cheap date? Play on, playa.

5. Cut Out Needless Expenditures
Take a hard look at your budget—there are probably lots of places you can trim some fat to make room for fitness. For example, switch from those five-dollar Starbucks Frappuccinos to $2.50 green teas. You’ll get antioxidants, a metabolism boost and a drop in calories. You’ll also save more than $900 per year! That’s enough to pay for a year’s gym membership in any city in America.

One Final Thought
Here’s the long-term bonus: getting fit now will save you a lot of money down the road. You’ll save on doctor’s bills. You’ll save on cold and flu medication, because when you’re fat, your immune system is shot. You’ll save on food, because it’s a lot more expensive to feed a 250-pound person than a 170-pound person. And you’ll save on clothes, because muumuus ain’t cheap. Start today.

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s one other way to save money on fitness, but Jay doesn’t like to brag, so we’ll do so for him. He recently released JCORE, a program that will transform your body for just 105 bucks. The set includes six DVDs, a meal plan, a schedule, recipes and one free month of Workout Wednesdays, a weekly live streaming session where Jay will train someone for 20 minutes and answer viewer questions. He has also launched a range of superior dietary supplements that includes an amazing post workout drink, a snack replacement, a metabolism-boosting drink and a multi-vitamin. Check it all out at jcorebody.com!


Jay Cardiello is Made Man’s fitness and nutrition expert. As a top certified strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer and sports nutritionist, Cardiello has helped Hollywood A-Listers, Fortune 500 CEOs and NFL players sculpt the best bodies of their lives. Learn more at 
jcorebody.com. Got a question for him? Email us here, with ASK JAY in the subject line, and he’ll do his best to address it in a future column.