17 Creative Ways to Get Paid to Work Out
Years ago, I spent a summer working at a general store in rural Alaska, and I didn’t just earn cash every day for my efforts: I also got a good workout. Whether I was scooping rock-hard ice cream for a never-ending line of customers, scrubbing down showers or running around stocking shelves, I was always moving.
You don’t have to move to the middle of nowhere to get a workout during your work day, though. This roundup of ways to get paid to exercise offers everything from jobs involving heavy lifting to apps you can use to get paid for going to the gym.
To make the most of your efforts, combine strategies when possible. For example, wear your Fitbit while you’re leading walking tours or doing other exercise as a part of your job.
Ready to make money while working out? Here are 17 options:
1. Bet on Yourself With GymPact
GymPact's tagline is, “Commit to you. Earn cash for healthy living, paid by members who don't.” Use the app to keep track of your fitness goals -- with rewards if you meet them, and penalties if you don’t.
If you reach your goals, you’ll receive a small payout (generally, 30 cents to $5 per week, which you can retrieve via PayPal when you’ve accumulated $10 or more). If you don't, you’re fined a similar charge, which goes toward paying out other members.
Freelance copywriter Betsy Mikel tried using Gympact for a year. “What I liked most about the app is that it motivated me not to lose money,” she said. “I didn't want to get charged $5 for skipping the gym.” Over the year she used the app, she made about $100 from her healthy habits.
You can download GymPact on iPhone or Android. Of course, verification (including GPS and photos) are required to make sure you’re actually working out when you say you are.
2. Lead Fitness Boot Camps
Believe it or not, some people pay good money to be screamed at before dawn. If you're a fitness fanatic, consider going into business as a fitness boot camp instructor to get paid to help people get in shape. To make sure you break a sweat, do the workouts with your clients.
3. Sync Your Fitbit to Earn Rewards
Using your Fitbit can help you not only get fit, but also rack up points. Just use FitStudio to sync your Fitbit with the Shop Your Way rewards program, and every steps helps you earn points to use at retailers from Kmart to Lands’ End.
You can earn 5,000 (equal to about $5) every week if you walk or run 15 miles in total. That’s just over two miles a day, which you could easily hit if you wear your Fitbit while doing any of the other activities on this list!
(Update: Fitstudio just announced it's shutting down on Feb. 10, 2016, so you'll no longer be able to earn points this way.)
Running after toddlers all day, pushing kids on swings and playing pick-up soccer with the all-star nine-year-olds is a great way to get a workout while getting paid. Consider whether you’d prefer to chase after older kids or carry around younger ones when working as a babysitter or nanny.
5. Guide Walking Tours
Share your town with visitors, meet new people and get paid to exercise -- what's not to like? If that appeals to you, consider becoming a walking tour guide and sharing your town’s history, nature and heritage.
You can go into business yourself (after obtaining any necessary permits from your town and insurance, of course), or sign up with one of several tour companies. In addition to the payments from your guests or tour company, you’ll likely also receive tips for your efforts. Wear your Fitbit or sign up with GymPact to cash in even more.
6. Teach Yoga
How's your downward dog? If you're a yoga fanatic, consider becoming a yoga teacher. Pros need to demonstrate every pose and offer guidance and variations so students can develop their practice. Many instructors can also attend other instructors' classes for free, which is a great added bonus.
7. Fight Forest Fires
If you don't mind long days, hard work and a bit of danger, consider going into the field of forest firefighting. These pros can make up to $40,000 during a six-month season while they're busy keeping the rest of us safe.
Be prepared for hard, physical labor and very little sleep (usually just crashing on the forest floor for a few hours here and there).
8. Teach Ski Lessons
Do you dream of hitting the slopes full time, at least during the winter? Becoming a ski instructor is a great way to save on skiing (or snowboarding). You'll spend your days on snow, and snag a free pass to spend your free time out on the slopes as well -- making this a great way to earn and save money.
9. Work as a Ranch Hand
Every dreamed of working on a ranch? Becoming a ranch hand or wrangler is a summer job to remember. And it's a job that comes with plenty of exercise. Whether mucking stalls, stringing fences or helping guests hop on and off their horses, working on a ranch involves plenty of good old-fashioned exercise.
10. Offer Landscaping Services
From tossing mulch to planting trees, this job will keep you moving, twisting, bending and working out. Consider working for a company or branching out on your own (with proper permits and insurance, of course).
11. Become a Bike Messenger
Pedal your way to fitness and a paycheck by riding around delivering packages and important letters as a bike messenger. While some businesses prefer to use messengers in cars, many use bike messengers, especially in big cities where parking is a challenge.
12. Work in a Warehouse
Lifting boxes, walking long aisles and moving heavy items are all part of a warehouse worker’s typical day. See if you can wear a Fitbit or use a fitness app like GymPact while you work to increase your payday.
13. Work as a Farm Hand
Whether you're corralling livestock, plowing and seeding the fields, or throwing hay, working on a farm is definitely a way to get a workout. While many farming chores are now mechanized, every farm still needs lots of labor to keep it running. You could also volunteer a few hours a week in exchange for some fresh produce, which will cut down on your grocery bills.
14. Coach or Referee Sports
Become a coach and spend your workday practicing lay-ups with players, running warm-ups, doing calisthenics and offering encouraging words. Coaches can work out right alongside their players, and then jump into strategy mode and help the team craft the best path to success.
Or, if you’d prefer to officiate, grab your whistle and become a referee. Whether you choose soccer, baseball, basketball or another sport, there are plenty of youth and adult leagues looking for coaches and refs.
15. Become a Personal Trainer
Work one-on-one with clients to help them carve the chiseled physique they're after. Working as a personal trainer involves being able to demonstrate exercises, and sometimes you can do them right alongside your client. Another perk of personal training is that many of these gigs come with gym memberships, which helps you save money.
16. Lead Hiking or Climbing Expeditions
Climbing guides get even more exercise than their clients, sometimes covering extra ground by going ahead to set up camp or ropes, and often carrying extra gear. If summiting peaks is your thing, consider becoming a certified guide and helping people accomplish their bucket-list mountain-climbing goals as you accomplish your fitness goals.
17. Guide Rafting Trips
Navigate rafts and keep your clients safe in raging whitewater as a rafting guide. This job is a great workout, as it takes some strength and finesse to navigate the wily ways of rivers and manage risks out on the water.
Your Turn: Do you make money while getting a workout? Share your ideas in the comments!
Disclosure: We have a serious Taco Bell addiction around here. The affiliate links in this post help us order off the dollar menu. Thanks for your support!
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.