As I noted in a previous post, I’ve been trying to work on my health and fitness lately. As anyone who has ever attempted to lose weight or get in shape can attest to, it can get very expensive. Between trying to eat the right foods, taking the time to work out, and gym memberships, the money piles up (not to mention any equipment or attire needed!). Some of us can’t afford it, and some of us refuse to pay for it. I myself admit to having a gym membership, because I feel like I need that financial commitment in order to make myself actually go. However, I have not always had a membership, and when I didn’t, I used some of these tactics to stay in shape (I still implement some of them in my routine!)
Absolutely Free Ways to Get in Shape:
- Utilize local nature. Find local parks, greenways, schools, or even nice neighborhoods with sidewalks and start your cardio. You can walk, jog, run, or bike, and you can do it solo, with a four-legged pal, or with friends. It doesn’t get much easier or much cheaper. There is a nice greenway that is right beside my second job, and oftentimes on Saturdays, I will stop by the greenway and walk for a mile or so, just to get in a little light exercise for the weekend. The scenery is nice and it is in a nice neighborhood, so I don’t worry about my personal safety while I’m there.
- Start doing calisthenics. I have been an advocate of calisthenics for a long time. Sure, you need to have cardio. But using your own body weight as resistance, combined with stretches for toning? No need for equipment? Count me in. I always feel great after a round of calisthenics. You can also do some lifting and toning with household items, like milk jugs or water bottles. Here’s a link that has a good routine: http://www.livestrong.com/article/466405-full-body-calisthenics-workout-routine/
- Find a large set of steps. That’s right; you need to do this Rocky style. If you are a fan of the Stairmaster, or just want to work those legs, finding a tall set of stairs and walking up and down them (or running! Your choice) several times is a great workout. Locally, there is a park that has many sets of stairs in it, and if you climb them, you can definitely feel a burn!
- Find free activities. I am always seeing active events hosted around my town for free. The local YMCA does a free health fair twice a year, where you can take a variety of sample exercise classes. There are also many free walking/running meetups in my town, as well as people who like to do bootcamp-style workouts in the park. One sweet lady in town offers a free yoga class every Tuesday night, and I know of at least one yoga studio in town that only accepts donations on one day of the week. Keep your eyes open and start looking around for when these types of opportunities arise. Not only will you get a workout and try something that is not within your regular routine, but you might make some new friends!
- Youtube, baby! In a quick search, I found all sorts of Youtube videos for different types of fitness classes. Pretty much anything you can think of, you can find on Youtube. I found tai-chi, yoga, kickboxing, aerobics, Zumba, Pilates, dance workouts, bootcamp-style workouts, strength routines, cardio circuits, Crossfit exercises, and the list goes on. This is a great way to get an inside look at something you are interested in trying without spending money. Plus, you can find free workouts for most of these topics! Here are a few popular workout channels:
- Netflix. Netflix was where I would turn when I wanted to try a television workout for a long time. Sadly, it seems that right now is a dry time for Netflix workout tapes. Netflix does continually rotate their selections, so you might be luckier than I am at a later date.
- Your local library. At your local library, you can find all sorts of fitness books that will give you a more in-depth explanation of how to get the best results for what you would like to achieve. The fitness books at my local library are pretty outdated, but the DVD section has a lot of great, more current workout videos to try.
- Fleetly. I have not personally tried this app yet, but a few of my friends have and they say it is a great, free resource for different kinds of workouts online. I believe you can access their website as well, so if you don’t have a smart phone, you can still get the workouts and communicate with the community.
- Chair workouts. There are many of these to choose from, and they can be accessed with a quick internet search! I have found chair workouts for legs, arms, abs, and cardio… so it seems that anything is possible.
- Find a fit friend. I am super fortunate to have a few friends that are really into fitness. One of them has progressed from making fitness her hobby to becoming a personal trainer and owning her own gym! If I ever have a question, need some advice, or just need a few kind words of encouragement, she is there to help. Plus, she is always up to tackle a new type of class with me or go on a run.
- Find an out of shape friend. Likewise, I have several friends that are not where they want to be, physically. Some want to lose weight, some want to tone, and some just want to feel healthier and get more energy. Having friends that are also trying to get in shape is definitely motivating. The hard part with this choice is to make sure that you continue to encourage each other and not let other aspects of life get in the way.
- Try “urban hiking”. Anytime that I travel, I like to dedicate an afternoon to this suedo-sport: find a downtown area, bring a backpack with some snacks and water, and walk around. Not only do you get to absorb some realistic culture, but you can also cover a lot of ground and see a lot of neat things. This is pretty popular for people traveling to Europe, but you can do it with any metropolitan downtown area. A word to the wise: Make sure that you know what areas of town might be unsafe for a single traveler. Always be aware of your surroundings, and if you are heading towards a situation that looks risky, for heavens’ sake, turn around!
- Sign-up for a trial membership at a gym. Ready to try out a gym and see if you like it? A trial membership is a great way to try that. You can get a feel for the gym and see if it’s something that you would enjoy or not. I must stress to please be cautious when doing a trial – sometimes, it is a lot harder to get out of than you think! The gym may want you to make a commitment before giving you the week free.
A Few Cheap, But Not Free Suggestions:
- Get a scholarship to the local YMCA. This is who I currently have my gym membership through, and I really like the nice equipment and the wide variety of classes. I qualified for a scholarship based on my income level, and so did a few other people that I know. If you are really a gym person, or love to take multiple classes a week, this might be a more frugal solution for you.
- Sign up for a class. If you are really more of a class person, and crave that social dynamic in your workout, then a class might be for you. Instead of spending your money on a gym membership, you might sign up for a class and supplement your classes with other, free workouts. In my area, there are many specialty fitness studios that cater to one particular form of exercise. These establishments generally have a monthly rate or a drop-in rate, or you can buy a punch card with a number of classes on it to use. If you are really into one type of fitness, say Karate, yoga, or Crossfit, this might be the best way to save money. If you can jog on your own three times a week and take a class for two, then having a gym membership is somewhat unecessary. There are also many independent instructors out there that teach in empty rooms – for instance, I know a girl that teaches Zumba in a church on Tuesday nights and charges $5 a class. No sign-up fee, no monthly rates, and no commitment. If you can’t make the class, then you don’t pay for it.
- Get a video game program. I love playing Wii games. When the Wii Fit came out, I used to play it everyday. I just recently discovered my Just Dance 2 disk (which I thought had been lost forever) and had so much fun playing it. I’m now keeping an eye out for other Wii dance games that are used to add to my collection. The dance games are a lot of fun, but there are plenty of other Wii/Kinect games that will get you active and make it fun. I think there are games for runners, aerobics classes, MMA classes, and so on. Find something that you like and try working out, if you already own a game console and feel like this would be beneficial to your health routine.
Here are a few other links to workouts that I like:
What do you do to keep yourself in shape and not spend a fortune?