About four years ago, I decided to get fit. I joined a really expensive gym (gulp), I hired a personal trainer (double gulp), and I committed to achieving three goals. I wanted a sub-20 minute 5k, the ability to do an unassisted pull-up, and the ability to do 20 full push-ups (I was a weakling. Don’t judge me).
At the end of six months, I had achieved 2 of those 3 goals. Yeah, I never did get that sub-20 minute 5k…
I had also spent over £500 (about $700).
I needed to start saving more money, as I knew I would be leaving my job in the near future. So I quit the gym. But I didn’t want to quit the exercise habit! So I did some research and discovered a ton of ways I could get fit without spending a fortune.
I tried out most of them, and I’m happy to present my guide to five frugal ways to get fit!
Frugal ways to get fit: 1. Exercise at home using YouTube videos
Did you know that there are tons of free exercise programs that have been put together by YouTube trainers? You can just go onto YouTube and do a search for ‘cardio workout low impact’ or ‘bodyweight strength workout’. You can get a good workout in at home, with nothing but your bodyweight.
However, my problem with those videos is that while they are good, they don’t give me much structure. I don’t want to think about whether it’s a legs day or an abs day – I want someone else to do that thinking for me.
Luckily, there are lots of workout programs that other people have put together. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for workout calendars! If you want to see some of the various options available, I’ve written a summary of some of the best online YouTube based fitness programs.
Look for a program that combines strength, cardio, and flexibility – you do need all three!
Frugal ways to get fit: 2. Visit an outdoor gym
Working out at home will get you pretty far, but sometimes we need to go elsewhere. Maybe we get too distracted at home, or maybe we’re looking to do something a bit different. Luckily, there is such a thing as Outdoor Gyms. You might be lucky enough to have one near you, and not even know it!
You can find outdoor gyms by visiting TGO or Playcore. Alternatively, google ‘Outdoor Gyms’ or ‘Park Gyms’.
Even if you’re not lucky enough to have an outdoor gym near you, you will almost definitely have a playground. Playgrounds provide the opportunity for numerous different exercises. Swing sets can be used for rows, monkey bars are an opportunity for upper strength exercises, and benches can be used for step-ups.
Check out NerdFitness’ playground workout for inspiration!
Picture by Stephen Craven
Frugal ways to get fit: 3. Go on an active adventure
Exercise shouldn’t be a chore – and weekends are for adventure! Adventures can be as ambitious or gentle as you like. Maybe you decided to climb all three of the UKs highest mountains in one day… or maybe you go canoeing on your nearest lake or river.
A few ideas for some active weekend adventures to get you started:
- Hiking in a national park
- Bouldering at a local climbing wall
- Wild swimming in a lake or river
- Cliff walking along the coast
- Camping on the side of a mountain
- Canoeing or kayaking
- Run a ’tough mudder’
- Caving or potholing
- Long distance bike ride
There are tons more adventures waiting to be had – share your ideas in the comments!
Active adventures are things that will challenge you physically and mentally. Plus, they’ll leave you with memories of a fantastic experience.
Me, after following a trail that had basically disappeared in the rain.
Frugal ways to get fit: 4. Join a local running group or a ramblers organization
Did you know that every weekend millions of people go for a run in a park? It’s free, you get a timed run every week, you become part of a supportive community and basically, it’s awesome! It’s called Park Run, and there will probably be one near you.
I love my local park run. You can turn up no matter what your fitness level or experience of running, and all you need is a pair of running shoes.
If running isn’t your style, there are also hundreds of walking and hiking groups out there. Look for the ones aimed at people under 30. Go for a long walk with no worries about getting lost. Discover your local countryside, and get fit all at the same time.
There’s sometimes a fee of a couple of dollars to cover costs – but it’s still much more affordable than a gym membership.
Park Run photo by William Starkey
Frugal ways to get fit: 5. Ditch the car! Invest in a bike
According to the AAA, the average person spends just under $10k a year on driving. Most of your driving is probably done going to and from work – hardly an exciting use of time.
Cycling turns your commute into something you enjoy instead of dread. Cycling burns calories raises your heart rate – and reduces your stress. A recent study found that cycling to work has huge health benefits.
You can comfortably commute up to 7 or 8 miles by bike. There’s some initial cost involved in getting your bike (and please, get a decent helmet) but you’ll quickly earn it back in the money you save on gas.
Do I think it’s worth moving to be closer to work in order to be able to commute by bike? Absolutely. It saves you money, it makes you more active, and it’s just plain better.
Getting fit doesn’t have to be about chalking up another hour of boring exercises in a gym whilst half watching the TV. When I made the jump from running on a treadmill to running in a park I discovered that exercise was so much more than I thought it could be.
When you push yourself to walk that last long mile up a steep and rocky mountainside – you’re rewarded not by a beep on a machine, but by a stunning view. Few things in life are more rewarding. Plus you save money, and isn’t that what being savvy is all about?
Writen by Suzie over at Cinnamon Sunrise. Suzie is going to give you some incredible ideas on how to get fit without breaking the bank! She is passionate about helping people live ‘like a grown-up’. She believes good sleep, joyful eating, and active movement are the foundations on which every great life is built. Her day job is spent working for a charity that strives to give children access to educational opportunities no matter what their background. Happy reading! ~T$C