7 Ways to Ball on a Budget (CrossFit)

I ain’t gonna lie, doing crossfit can be friggin’ expensive. Rocking an unlimited membership at the local box can easily run $150 or more per month. Add in the expense of making your diet paleo, shoes (those Inov8s aren’t cheap), WOD clothes, Oly shoes, a jump rope, home equipment, supplements, travel to competition, and we’re talking about a pricey hobby. If you’re having affordability issues, here are some suggestions for cutting down and still getting your elite on.

1. Avoid CrossFit Specific Gear – CrossFit clothes are friggin’ expensive. 4-way-stretch board shorts can run up to $80 from popular surf companies (see these Volcoms) and companies like Forged sell shorts for $60 a pop. Even the new Reebok CrossFit shorts, which debuted at the Games, will run you sixty bones. And I haven’t even talked about gear for the ladies…heaven help you if you’re shopping at Lululemon for your WOD gear.

My solution here is to hit bargain stores for name brand gear that is perfectly functional. I found a badass pair of Nike running shorts at Stein Mart for $15. A few weeks ago I hit the clearance rack at the local running store and picked out a pair of Saucony wicking shirts for half off.

Lastly, if you’re paying full price for Skinz gear you’re an idiot. You can buy essentially the same stuff from Adidas for a fraction of the price. See their line of TECHFIT compression gear.

2. Inov-8 Isn’t The Only Good Shoe On the Planet – A pair of Inov-8s will nail you for $100+ every time and they are sometimes hard to get. Expect more of the same when the new Inov-8 CrossFit shoe debuts later in the year. See this vid for more info:

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The pain-in-the-ass that is Inov-8 has caused a run of “alternative” shoes to pop up in my gym, most notably a slew of Saucony Kinvaras, which are affordable, comfortable, and lightweight. I have a pair of these and I highly recommend them. My primary CrossFit shoes are Saucony Grid A4s and I love’em…4mm drop, bright green, 6 ounces each (what!?), low footbed. I got them for $60 after a discount code from Running Warehouse.

Speaking of coupon codes, try using a site like couponcodes4u.com or retailmenot.com to search out codes. I found a 10% code for Running Warehouse just now.

Besides Saucony, there are plenty of companies making lightweight, minimal-drop shoes these days that are competitively priced. I’ve seen a lot of minimal New Balance kicks popping up at the gym also. Inov-8 isn’t the last word.

3. Go Back To LA Fitness – Membership costs can be a real killer. I’ve seen several CrossFit gyms offer unlimited memberships for $200+ or more per month. Ouch! You’re in big trouble if your whole family needs to get elite…now we’re talking about the equivalent of a car payment. It almost makes you think about rejoining Bally’s.

I have a couple of solutions for this one. One, if you’re really in a bind, is to drop down to 2x or 3x a week at the box and do your remaining WODs at your home gym or even at the Globo Gym. Several of my friends also maintain memberships at LA Fitness, which is super cheap, and they go in for strength training and solo WODs. Having dual memberships is actually a cheaper solution than the unlimited membership at the box. I used to have a membership at a regular gym for $25/month, which is almost the same cost for two sessions at a CrossFit gym!!

Another solution is to try to trade some kind of service for a discounted or free membership. I’ve offered technical website services in the past to several gyms and this has worked great for getting my dues comped. Affiliate owners are usually open to working with you. What can you offer in exchange?

If you’re really in a bind, consider volunteering as an instructor, provided you’re qualified. That will usually get you free CrossFit.

4. Troll Craigslist for Workout Equipment – If you crossfit for long enough, you’ll start to collect workout equipment for a mini-home gym. It just happens. If you can’t afford to get fully outfitted by Rogue–who can–I recommend trolling craigslist for bars, weight, and racks. It’s easy to find a cheap rack to do squats and bench press and you can always find cheap dumb bells. I got myself a beater bar for $50 and some cheap plate weight and I can always squeeze in a WOD at home if I don’t have time to hit the gym.

You’ll never see bumper plates on craigslist, so save up for a set of bumpers from Muscle Driver USA for $280. You’ll pay $298 for the same from Rogue.

5. Cheap Eats – Gobbling up all that meat to maintain you’re killer paleo lifestyle can get expensive. I found a local grocer in Orlando that sells beef and chicken for a fraction of the price that Publix does. Look around your town and see what you can find. Also, don’t be afraid to shop at the Wal-Mart Grocery store for discounted eats.

That grocer is Freshfields Farm, near downtown, for my Orlando peeps.

 6. Supplements – The only supplement I use is a high quality protein powder. A simple web search will find several sites with discounted options. I’m also a big fan of Accelerade for a sports drink and I order this off Amazon for $31.

7. Blow Your Wad on Throwdowns – If you like to compete, my advice here is to save up and blow your fat stack on competitions. This is what sports are all about and there’s no reason to spare any expense. I’m happy to pay a premium to test myself and break down some walls. You should be too.

However, if you’re looking to save a few bucks on hotel prices, I really like the way hotwire.com works. I’ve booked 4 star hotels for $20-40 cheaper per night using their system and it’s always worked out great.

Besides that, I’ve competed in other sports and CrossFit throwdowns, by comparison, are actually affordable. In rowing, you could spend hundreds of dollars for an out of town regatta. Most CF competition fees are well below that.

Have any other ideas to save a few bucks while crushing those WODs? Leave them in the comments area.

  • Jhemphill

    Here here Ben! Great suggestions. I too have felt the pinch of my costly hobby! I’ll pass this on to some other friends. Love it.

  • Zak

    Good info homie!

  • Crissygal

    Great suggestions! I’m also a fan of TJ Maxx and Marshall’s for workout clothes. Being a mom of 3 I don’t have the luxury to shell out the big bucks for workout gear!

  • Raj

    Very useful article! Its ’bout time people highlight the expensiveness of the sport of CrossFit!! The technical gear designed for CF is usually very expensive and not meant for beginners or even intermediates. May be when we are ready to compete in Open games then we can think about investing in our “wants” and not just the “needs”.

  • JP

    I need to address something before people get the wrong idea…

    “3. Go Back To LA Fitness ” followed shortly by “7. Blow Your Wad on Throwdowns” Firstly Crossfit is expensive, it just is. I understand that may be frustrating and make it seem exclusive but that isnt going to change anytime soon. Find some place else to save a buck and put it into your membership, cut coffee or skip eating out and bring a lunch instead.

    The logic that you can save money by doing something like crossfit unsupervised on your own or in a commercial gym in order to compete is absolutely confounding. The proficiency you need wont be there, the community you need wont be there, that last bit of fight you need to finish wont be there because that isnt how you trained so it wont be how you compete. What will be there is the stress of competition, the unknown, the unsafe and you will not be coached you will be judged, this may result in any number of undesirable outcomes. Please disregard this advice because it is misleading and doesn’t have your best interest in mind (though it is done with a good intention). Suck up the fact that its expensive and exclusive, the people that run these gyms put their heart and soul into training you day in and day out, and they dont get rich doing it, I should know I am one. Find a crossfit near you and spend the money because its your health, your family, and your life and you only get one chance with it.

    PS. No one cares what your shirt says, we care about your evolution from this person that walks in with an idea of what crossfit is, and for the next hour with out even knowing it you are training to become the fittest man or woman on the planet. The drive we see in people, the progress, the capabilities earned, the weight lost, the confidence gained thats why we do it, not so we can judge you for what shoes you are wearing.

  • S

    I agree, I’ve actually tried to save money by doing WODs at a regular gym, and it didn’t work. Not only did I not have coaching, I also didn’t have the same motivation, I didn’t have competition (which drives me), and I didn’t have the proper equipment. I may have saved money, but I wasn’t happy. I didn’t have a gym family, which I was accustomed to having in CrossFit (any CF, because they’re all families). I’m even going to go a step further and say that doing CrossFit at a gym with CF equipment that isn’t an affiliate also isn’t a great idea because you still don’t get the same level of coaching there, nor will you get the intense WODs.

    Otherwise, great article, I’m really needing some new gear (mine is soo old) and I’m so broke!

  • Lance

    Hey, I think you have some great suggestions. I’ve done many of them especially piecing together a home gym on craigslist. I do have to say that going to a crossfit box is worth every penny if you can afford it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to stick with it and the closets box to me is reasonably priced at $100 a month… Which is great but it’s not reasonably close so I was spending over $125 a month on gas just to go. I’ve been lucky to find a few other guys that do crossfit at home and we get together as often as possible to workout. Plus we all obsessed so the constant communication helps offset the box community aspect.

    Anyway, the only thing I would disagree on is regarding the throw downs. Those are intense and if you’re going to compete, you need to be part of a box for the coaching and the added intensity of working out in a group.

    Thanks for the post, I enjoyed the read!