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.
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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
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!