Running & Fitness Tips

12 Tips on How to Get Fit for Free!

While celebrities like the Kardashians flaunt their workout routines in empty gyms having personal training sessions, the rest of us look on eating tubs of ice cream watching Gossip Girl and wondering how the heck we can look like them with 1% of the budget they have… no…? Just me then.

In all seriousness, health is big business and there are now so many ways for people to keep fit, you’d think we were all marathon-running-Instagram-goddesses but, in case you’re in need of some new ideas on how you can keep fit while spending the least amount possible, here’s some tips on how to get fit when you’re tightening the purse strings.

Disclaimer: This post has affiliate links, which means if you choose to buy through my links I receive a commission at no extra cost to you! I’ll only ever link products that I absolutely love and use, thank you for supporting me.

1. Dog Walking
These 4 legged miracles are more than shedding, crying, hungry monsters that live for free in your home that don’t understand anything you tell them but they listen anyway, they’re also a great way to keep fit for free. If you don’t have a pooch of your own, I’m sure you know someone that has a dog that would be more than willing for you to take them out for a spin around the neighbourhood. Heck, why not even get a bunch of ’em and pretend you’re Cesar Milan The Dog Whisperer… step too far??

2. Outdoor Gyms
On a walk back home with my Dad a couple of years ago we spotted an outdoor gym and I thought it was the craziest thing I’d ever seen! Who on earth would want to be working out in the middle of a busy park in front of noisy kids and flying footballs at their heads! Obviously, I couldn’t resist having a go on all of the gym equipment and I can 100% verify that I was breaking a sweat by the end of it. Here’s a link to the one in Exeter that I’m referring to http://www.tgogc.com/Gyms/United-Kingdom/Devon/Belmont-Park-Devon.html

Dad clearly enjoying the free gym equipment!

I’m 99% sure that at 7am on a Sunday morning there aren’t going to be hoards of people just waiting in line to get on the equipment so if you’re that way inclined and you don’t mind working out in front of total strangers then you definitely need to give this a go. Check out the Great Outdoor Gym Company who have these types of gym equipment in parks all over the UK http://www.tgogc.com/Gyms/

Definitely dressed for the gym!

3. Running
Any runner will tell you that running isn’t a ‘cheap’ sport but I’m here to tell you, you don’t need to spend huge amounts of money when it comes to taking up the sport (unless you really really want to). When I first started running I didn’t have a GPS watch and apps weren’t invented yet so I used to do my runs and then hop in the car and drive the route to see how far it was! These days there are lots of fitness trackers like Nike running, Strava and Map My Run so you don’t need to spend money on a fitness watch, especially if you’re just starting out.

I’d suggest the only investment you really need to make is on your footwear. Get a great pair of running shoes and you can run anywhere you like.

4. Workout DVDs
This is where I started my ‘keeping fit’ journey many many years ago and, truthfully, I can still do the same workout DVD that I’ve done for 15 years and be physically challenged by it and have fun at the same time. They don’t seem to be as popular nowadays, I’m assuming thanks to the internet, but once you’ve found a DVD that you enjoy keep at it and you will see results.

Some of my all time favourites are the Ministry of Sound Pump it Up DVDs. The first DVD was inspired by the Eric Prydz Call on Me music video in 2004 (yes, that’s how long ago that song came out!) and then a series followed, and I loved pretty much all of them until they stopped making them – sad face. I then moved onto the Clubland workouts as Deanne Berry who fronted the Ministry of Sound DVDs had moved there too.

Another favourite workout series of mine are Davina McCall’s DVDs. I think she’s up to around her 15th DVD now and she looks amazing. While the Clubland and Ministry of Sound DVDs are more dance based, Davina’s are more strength training and overall fitness. So trawl those charity shops and bargain bins because you may find an amazing workout that you can do in the comfort of your own home, any time of the day or night and in your favourite pyjamas.

5. Instagram
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll have heard of Kayla Itsines who is an Australian personal trainer who has used her social medial to promote her fitness brand and has racked up 9.1m followers on the platform. She posts mini workouts on her Instagram page which you can do at home and she’s also got some pretty awesome E Books and a workout app.

There are so many Instagram accounts I’m not even sure where to start but a couple of great ones are @workouts.for.women and @absworkouts so check them out and literally knock yourself out with an endless supply of workout tips and everything else inbetween right at your fingertips.

6. parkrun
I guess parkrun technically comes under the ‘running’ category here but to me it’s an entity of its own. Obviously, you can hit the open road and run wherever and whenever you like and time it yourself, but you certainly don’t get to be part of the running community running alone that you do at a parkrun event. If you don’t know what parkrun is, it’s a volunteer run, free, timed, 5k run which started in the UK in 2004 and it’s spread far and wide since then. You’d be hard pressed to NOT find a parkrun near you! Saturday mornings have never been the same since.

7. Cycle to Work
I hadn’t rode a bike for nearly 10 years when I decided it would be a great idea to start cycling to work. My, very neglected, bike had been in the garage for so long but I was surprised that after pumping up the tyres it was good to go. I hopped on the bike to cycle the 5 mile journey and I never looked back, I cycled to work for an entire year after that and the thought of driving seemed weird!

Many organisations have Cycle to Work schemes these days where employers loan cycles and safety equipment as a tax free benefit. Check out if your organisation has one and relive your youth and get back on the bike.

8. YouTube
This isn’t going to be news to you but you can find ANYTHING you want (and don’t want) on YouTube. It has an almost endless stream of workout videos which will take you through abs workouts, aerobics, and yoga, there really is something for everyone.

The first channel I ever watched on YouTube was Blogilates who has so many videos up it would be impossible for you not to find one that tickled your fancy. They really are the modern day workout DVDs except you can pick a new workout every day and still never run out of new routines.

9. Home Workout Equipment
This doesn’t mean that you have to buy some dumbbells and resistance bands and do a Green Goddess routine from the 80s! Home workout equipment has become much more accessible and versatile since then and you can pick up some relatively cheap items that actually get you fit.

I loved spin classes and went every week for a couple of years, however, I never liked that sometimes I didn’t enjoy the spin instructor so much. Sometimes you’d get ‘serious’ spin instructors who would wear cycling gloves and you’d do an entire 45 minute road run sat down, then the next week you’d get an I’m-at-a-70s-party-and-going-to-sing-all-my-favourite-tunes instructor. Don’t get me wrong, they are both great instructors in their own right but it was hit and miss whether I’d enjoy the class or not, that and the fact it became so expensive to attend a weekly class, it was more cost efficient for me to buy my own spin bike!

I purchased a bike for around £100 and it’s the best investment I’ve ever made. While I’m mostly a runner, there are days that I can’t face running into torrential freezing rain or it’s too late for me to get outside and not feel like zombies just might be chasing me. Not only that, it’s helped get me through some running injuries and I’ve been able to keep my fitness up when I’ve been unable to run. The best part is that I can listen to my own music, do my own spin routines and have the best workout! I’ve also watched a few YouTube videos of spin classes for some inspiration or if I just haven’t got the capacity to come up with a great playlist.

To keep things really cheap, have a look on EBay or free sites where you might be able to pick up a bargain on a spin bike, rowing machine or treadmill and exercise to your hearts content knowing you haven’t got to queue in the gym and you’re saving money too.

10. Walking
You may roll your eyes at the idea of going for a long stroll but walking has so many benefits that you can’t ignore and is actually a pretty efficient way of getting and staying fit. At most, you need some comfortable shoes and then you can head out to woodland trails, exploring new cities and get to know your neighbourhood better (I’ve found some absolute gems of places that I’d never had ventured to if I’d have been in the car).

I’m a huge fan of leaving the car at home, when practical, and walking there instead. My main shopping centre is around 1.5 miles away and I’ll tell you, trying to find a parking space on a Saturday there is nearly impossible. There’s nothing I enjoy more than leaving the car at home, taking a leisurely stroll there and not having to stress about where I’m going to park. And yes, it does take me longer but I feel so much better for it AND I’m getting ever closer to my daily step goal of 10k steps!

11. Workout Apps
These are a great way to fit at home workouts into your life for a fraction of the cost of a gym. You can pick up some free Apps such a 7 Minute Workout and Couch to 5k runner in the App store so have a peruse of the ones available and pick one that suits you.

12. Leisure Centres
Leisure Centres, while not always ‘cheap’, can be a great way to still go to the gym but for a much better rate than a gym which has all of the facilities such as sauna. While these gyms are lovely to go to, they are often very expensive and you have to make sure that you’re making as much use of your gym membership as possible to get the best run for your money.

At most leisure centres you can sign up to a gym membership that you pay per month and use the gym and attend as many classes as you like, so if you absolutely must go to a gym, shop around and find the best deal.

I hope you’ve found some of these ideas helpful and I’d love to hear any of your suggestions for keeping fit on a budget!

Advertisements
Blog

Half Marathon Training | Week 6 | Diary of an Injured Runner

We welcomed the ‘Beast of the East’ this week and I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty relieved I didn’t manage to get into the Bath Half Marathon this weekend as it didn’t go ahead which is a shame! England was pretty much at a standstill on Friday and Saturday due to the high volumes of snow and I ended up having two days in the house because it was just too dangerous to drive anywhere.

Disclaimer: This post has affiliate links, which means if you choose to buy through my links I receive a commission at no extra cost to you! I’ll only ever link products that I absolutely love and use, thank you for supporting me.

Monday| Week 6 | Rest Day
I was working away from the office today and after a good few hours in the car I was knackered. That and having a poorly pup, I’ve been missing out on some sleep these past few days. I welcomed a lovely early night with the heating up watching some Friends on Netflix.

Some photos went up on Facebook of the Slay the Dragon 10k race yesterday and I have to give massive credit to the photographers because they were so encouraging! Usually at a race I don’t even see a photographer but on Sunday they were shouting out things like ‘come on ladies, let’s have a massive smile, you’re doing great’! It was much appreciated and I actually ended up with a photo of me running and smiling (alert the elders this has to go down in history).

Tuesday | Week 6 | 30 Miles Spin Bike
It’s beginning to look a lot like…. spring will never get here! What’s with all this snow??

I’m not one who shirks away from running in the cold weather but I just didn’t have it in me today so I went on the spin bike while I watched Derren Brown’s The Push (he’s my not so secret crush, I just adore him).

I perhaps didn’t push myself as hard as I should/ could have but my legs were still a little weary from Sunday’s race and I’m still tired from getting up with the dog in the night. So. Many. Excuses.

Let’s have some real talk here, I was this close to sitting on the sofa and eating snacks…. but I’d weighed myself this morning and did NOT like what I saw staring back at me and that was a massive incentive (let’s ignore the fact that for dinner I had some party snacks and a cider)!

Wednesday | Week 6 | Reflection Day
I always enjoy analysing weeks and months gone past and try and work out how I can make the following months better. I’m a stat nerd and I write everything down and pour over where I went wrong and what I did well. You’d think that I’d be some kind of planning genius and have my life together right…. well not exactly.

This month I feel like I did pretty decent mileage considering how my legs have been. The change up in running shoes I think had helped massively and I did many more miles than I had planned.

I’ve also not been neglecting my stretching routine after running and it’s made a huge difference in my opinion as my foot pain is zero while running and nearly zero the rest of the time. Fingers crossed it stays that way!

My problem is (and always has been) my diet. I know exactly what to eat as I’ve eaten healthily pretty much my whole life and have managed to maintain my weight easily. However, lately I’ve had an appalling diet and this habit has been hard to kick and the scales are showing that. It doesn’t help that I HATE cooking… with a passion. It brings me zero joy except for the fact I am doing one of my favourite things at the end which is eat… and that lasts all of 5 minutes and then it’s gone. Maximum effort with minimum reward is not my style (don’t come at me with all the health benefits etc I know it’s not logic but it’s my logic). So that’s a goal for March for me to do better at.

Thursday | Week 6 | Snow Day!
In all of my years on planet earth, I don’t ever remember a time it was this cold and don’t even get me started on the snow (thanks Storm Emma + Beast of the East)! I had to take the Labrador to the vet in the evening and I was the only one there, with the exception of a spaniel and a little boy rolling around the vet car park (we don’t see snow often, it’s a novelty here). The Labrador also loves snow as much as that little boy…

While today was never a planned workout day anyway, it was so cold, we got in bed with the electric blanket on and watched Netflix which was perfect. Oh and I also had to fix the loft hatch that flew down last night and scared the living days out of me and subsequently had cold air blasting down into the house all night!

Friday | Week 6 | Snow Day #2
Snow is such a novelty that I couldn’t resist trying to take some photos of my lovely new running shoes in it (I might not see any for some years!). Friday is usually a run day for me but there was no way that I was going out running in this…. although could have tried out the trail shoes that are too small for me, my toes may shrink in the cold and they may fit perfectly… or….?

I didn’t leave the house all day which meant I also didn’t eat properly as I didn’t have enough food in the house which meant I couldn’t workout in the evening which means I suck! Apparently milk and bread and other essentials were out of stock in a lot of the shops (not that I eat either of those things) because everyone was panic buying.

Saturday | Week 6 | Snow Day #3
Snow. Is. Annoying. I went for a walk this morning to the shop to try and pick up some supplies but when I got there, it was closed! So I went home empty handed and only ate some chicken dippers and supernoodles all day #facepalm. Unfortunately I’m not the most forward planning kind of person which meant I’ve been super hungry all day and I’m THAT person that cannot workout unless I’ve eaten plenty. So I had yet another rest day today which isn’t ideal as I’ve only managed to get one cardio session under my belt so far this week.

Sunday | Week 6 | Oh Gosh, it’s ANOTHER Rest Day
Although, to give myself some credit, I wasn’t ‘resting’ all day! I got up early and walked the Labrador in what is now just horrible slush after all of the snow and I’ve been working hard on Belle’s Running Blog things. I actually think I’ve been staring at the screen for far too long because a line, which I know is straight, is looking suspiciously curvy! This does mean that I’ve missed out on another workout day today though so I’m pretty disappointed in that. I still have the ‘food issue’ where I’m working my way through the cupboards of anything I have left which isn’t particularly nutritious.

Weekly Summary
So I didn’t do too well on the running / exercising front this week but that wasn’t intentional I think it just required a bit more forward planning on my part and the snow didn’t help either as there was no way I was risking twisting my ankle! My next race is on the 11th March and it’s a nice close one. I’m actually really looking forward to this race, I feel like I might be able to pull a decent time out of the bag (I’ve gone and jinxed it now haven’t I!).

How was your training week this week? Did the Beast of the East stop you from getting out and running?

Blog

Half Marathon Training | Week 4 | Diary of an injured runner

I actually can’t believe I’m up to Week 4 already! I’m so far behind schedule due to injury and it feels like every time I run I end up with a new or an even worse injury!

Monday | Week 4 | Rest Day
You know one of those days where you’ve earned your rest days? Yep, that. While I didn’t particularly push myself in the same way I would usually at a race yesterday, I have this very painful bruise on my thigh. I’ve decided that this week I’m going to only do 1 run (a fairly easy paced 4 ish miler) and the rest of my cardio will be at home workout DVDs and time on the spin bike. I need to get my cardiovascular strength up if nothing else so at least I’m fit for the race (even if my injuries aren’t).

Hello Bath Skyline bruise

Tuesday | Week 4 | At Home Workout DVD
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of my red medals! ❤

I’ve been doing this Ministry of Sound Pump It Up Ultimate workout DVD for nearly 15 years now and I love it just as much as when I first bought it! It’s around 1hr 15 mins from start to finish which includes a warm up, two cardio sections, strength training and a long cool down. Usually I’ll neglect the cool down because it’s pretty boring but I made sure I did the lot.

I did have some pain in both of my legs pretty much the whole time I was doing this. It’s very high impact so much like running really but it’s not the same constant pounding of the pavements.

Can never stop the Labrador joining in too, I must look like I’m having fun and she’s left out!

Calories burned: 435
Time in Zone 5: 10:42
Time in Zone 4: 23:02

Wednesday | Week 4 | Felt the Burn
Definitely feeling my workout from yesterday, trying to raise my arms in any kind of fashion was more difficult than usual! I can’t even remember the last time I did a push up so I’m not surprised.

Thursday | Week 4 | Rest Day
Had to take pupper to the vets today, she’s got a skin infection so I had to pop her into the bath and wash her tummy. Even though she’s a Labrador, she’s no fan of baths so that was almost a mini workout trying to do that!

Friday | Week 4 | Unplanned Rest Day
So today I was going to go on the spin bike, but silly over here didn’t eat enough throughout the day and I was so hungry when I got home from work there was no way I could have done any time on the bike. Instead I put my feet up and had a nice relaxing evening. It works out better if I do my cardio tomorrow anyway because that means it will time perfectly for my race on Sunday…. right….

Saturday | Week 4 | Easy 4 Mile Run
I know I call all of my runs ‘easy’ but that’s because I cannot push myself because of injury. In other news, I picked up my parcel from the Post Office which was my new unicorn running leggings hoorayyy! Although, I actually felt great while I was doing this, I planned for 4 and nearly went for 5 miles but the sensible person in me said that I should quit while everything’s good. I had no pain in my legs at all or anywhere else which was just amazing. I was wearing my old trusty Nikes though which aren’t the best trainers ever as they’re well overdue a throwing out!

I cooled down with a short pupper walk but I could feel straight away that I was going to suffer from this easy run. My foot pain was back and nothing I did was making it feel any better. I tried stretching out my entire leg, doing ankle exercises and then had a bath but nothing eased it at all. This just sucks! My half marathon is in around 6 weeks and there’s no way I’m going to be able to get the mileage up in training to be even half prepared for it.

Sunday | Week 4 | Recovery Day
Let’s not call today a rest day as, lets be honest, I am totally in recovery today! It’s no big surprise to me that today I am suffering from the week’s workouts (and I even skipped a day!!). This morning when I woke up, my old friend plantar greeted me as I stepped out of bed. This just can’t go on, I need to see a physio ASAP.

One good thing about the week, I ordered some new trail shoes! I can’t wait to try them out, although, I did commit the sins of 1) not testing them out first and 2) ordering them in my actual shoe size. My Brooks size 5s are a whole size bigger than my usual shoe size (which I was fitted for and I know that’s the way it’s supposed to be) but I have never had so many blisters from a running shoe ever and that’s including all of the cheaper ‘fashion’ trainers I’ve owned over the years. EVERY time I wear them, I have terrible blisters on the back of my heel and I just have to accept that when I wear them, I’ll be bleeding all over the show and in pain.

I’m always really inspired by other people who have overcome worse injuries than I have and are stronger and better runners for it. It gives me hope. If you’re one of these people I’d love to hear what injuries you’ve come back from.