I was a gym rat for over a decade. At least six days a week, I’d spend up to two hours cycling, crunching, and lunging solo. For whatever reason, I believed that paying for boutique fitness classes to get in shape was “cheating” and I prided myself on being my own source of motivation. But over the past two years, it’s gotten a lot harder to push myself without any sort of support.
Last summer, I decided to splurge for a one-week Pure Barre membership while I was traveling. I felt guilty spending money on classes when I could simply run outside for free, but I knew I wouldn’t work out unless I was obligated to. And I was right. Not only did I make every session I signed up for, but I saw better results after seven days than I’d typically see after consistently exercising and eating well for months. I was hooked.
When I returned home, I crunched the numbers to see what worked best with my budget. Even though I could swing it, the thought of spending $30 on a 55-minute class made me cringe—so I decided to do some research. I quickly discovered that Pure Barre has its own fitness app, and that it’s not the only studio to offer some sort of on-demand service.
It turns out that it’s actually pretty easy to get a boutique fitness workout without dropping hundreds of dollars every month! Here are a few full-proof options for toning up that won’t simultaneously trim your bank account.
Pure Barre On-Demand
Rates vary based on location, but 30 days of unlimited Pure Barre classes usually hovers around $200 (or more). A one-month pass to its streaming platform, on the other hand, is $29.99.
Pure Barre On-Demand offers workouts as short as five minutes and as long as one hour. You can choose from full-body or targeted sessions, but each follows a class structure that’s similar to what you practice in-studio. The 50- to 60-minute sessions are led by one instructor with two students to demonstrate modifications, but the rest are filmed in a regular class setting for a more realistic experience.
A huge perk is that no equipment is required. Snagging hand weights, a ball, and a double tube does make classes more challenging, but the classes are designed to give you a great workout without them. Overall, the only issue I’ve had has been finding a support that’s strong enough—and tall enough—to do its job. Right now, I use the handlebars of my stationary bike, but I’m entertaining the idea of buying my own barre with the money I’ve saved on a monthly membership (#shopsmart).
Peloton, the lauded stationary bike, was created to make boutique cycling more affordable. But at $1,995—or $97 a month—it’s not exactly a budget-friendly alternative. The cost of the bike doesn’t even include a subscription to the platform’s streaming service, which is an additional $39 each month.
But you can get access to the service—which includes up to 14 live classes each day and over 8,000 on-demand rides—for just $12.99 a month by downloading Peloton’s iOS app.
The app is compatible with any brand of bike. This means you can get a Peloton workout wherever you are, whether it’s at home or a hotel gym. Now, you probably assume that buying your own stationary bike is outrageously expensive, right? Not exactly. I snagged this Sunny Health & Fitness one from Amazon for less than $300. It rides as smoothly as any other bike I’ve used at a real gym, and was super simple to set up. Pair it with the Peloton app, and you have access to a boutique cycling experience for one-sixth of the price.
I’m not sure what’s harder—a Barry’s Bootcamp workout, or checking your bank account after dropping $500-plus on a month of classes. Sessions at the legendary studio will surely whip you into shape. And they should, at $36 a pop. But if you have the fortitude to push yourself without the support of an instructor, Kayla Itsine has a more affordable option.
If you haven’t heard of Itsine or seen her #BBG (Bikini Body Guide) transformations on Instagram, you’re missing out. Her program will kick your ass while simultaneously sculpting it.
The SWEAT app, which is a partnership between Itsines, Kelsey Wells, and Sjana Elise Earp, gets you access to her BBG (Stronger) method, as well as strength- and yoga-based workouts from Wells and Earp.
Each session can be completed at home or a gym, and at $19.99 a month, it’s far more agreeable with your wallet.
Itsine’s 28-minute circuit workouts are addictive. Before I started her program, I couldn’t do a single burpee. Now, I can easily do 10—and it’s been almost a year since my last BBG workout.
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