Most of us want to get in better shape, but among the many excuses we have for not doing it is cost. While the big, national chains seem to be opening new branches in every shopping center, strip mall and street corner, the prices can be enough to give the average working person or family reason to hesitate. Additionally, some chains and even locally owned health clubs have become notorious for shutting down on a moment’s notice and leaving members stuck with long-term contracts. In this article, we’re going to look at some possible alternatives to the big chains that might be a bit easier on the wallet.

Quest Center
15049 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33613
(813) 971-5545

Located at the southern border of New Tampa, the Quest Center is one of Tampa’s best-established martial arts schools. If learning the ancient Japanese martial art of ninjutsu isn’t motivating, the Quest Center offers hatha yoga classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings as well as Friday evenings at a flat rate of $9 per class. Instructor Beth Mayberry teaches in a gentle fashion that will benefit men and women of all ages as well as people who have limited mobility. Quest also offers bi-weekly functional strength and mobility classes on Sunday mornings for a flat $15.

St. Pete Cardio and Core
St. Petersburg, FL

Getting in shape doesn’t have to be about fancy gyms and hi-tech equipment. A qualified trainer and a good dose of determination can make the most out of almost any setting. All you have to do is show up at Crescent Lake at the corner of 5th Street North and 20th Avenue in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday mornings and you’ll get a full-body workout led by trainers Jen and Jamarcus. All you need to bring is water and a yoga mat if you have one. All levels of fitness are welcome, and for only $5, you won’t get a better workout or a more positive vibe anywhere. For those looking for a tough cardio challenge, Jamarcus hosts stadium stair runs at Al Lang Stadium for a $5 donation on Thursday evenings. Water is mandatory and a jump rope is optional.

Related: Best Running Clubs In Tampa Bay

Beach Park Health Club – Leo’s Gym3637 S. Manhattan Ave.
Tampa, FL 33629
(813) 839-4444

Located in the heart of south Tampa, owner/manager Leo Ocean’s club is the perfect venue for anyone looking to improve their fitness and health. While personal trainers are available, a long-time fixture in Tampa’s body building and fitness community, Leo starts beginners with a custom basic workout that will be challenging but within each person’s abilities. Prices are reasonable and while contracts are part of the overall experience, Beach Park won’t break the bank. Also, with local ownership, there’s a good chance that the club will be around for a good long while.

Powerhouse Gym North
13539 N. Florida Ave.
Tampa, FL 33613
(813) 961-0595

If you’re looking for something fancy, you might as well move along. There’s nothing fancy to see here. However, if you’re looking for a place to work up a good sweat with a wide variety of equipment, Powerhouse Gym North is worth a look. With special introductory prices, it’s easy to find out whether this is the right place for you with a minimal financial commitment. Personal trainers are available and the staff is helpful when it comes to showing newcomers how to properly use the equipment. Free weights and nautilus-style machines are abundant. Exercise bikes, stair climbers and elliptical machines also offer a chance to build cardio fitness.

691 43rd St. S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
(727) 209-9622

The YMCA may not be a trendy place for people who want to see and be seen, but it has been in business for a long time and chances are it will be around for a long time to come. Most locations offer exercise programs and trainers who can help you maximize your experience. It’s also good to remember that getting fit doesn’t necessarily require sweating and groaning over barbells and weight machines. Fitness is about being active, burning fat and strengthening the cardio system. There are any number of ways to do that. Whether you choose to use weight training, swimming, running, martial arts or some combination of all of the above, the YMCA is ready to help you get fit and live a healthier life.

Related: Best CrossFit Studios In Tampa Bay

Mike Hennessy is a veteran news man who has won Florida AP awards for feature reporting and covered almost every kind of story imaginable from on-the-scene coverage of Hurricane Andrew, to some of the highest profile murder and corruption trials in Florida history. Mike is versatile and has the curiosity it takes to get to the bottom line of any story. His work can be found at