Frugal Fitness

Staying healthy and getting fit doesn’t have to cost a fortune. I’ve been a fan of fitness for the last five years or so, more or less after finding workouts I really loved. Once I got into a healthy routine, it became second nature to fit in a workout every day and eat somewhat healthy. The past nine months have been a bit of a struggle to stay on that path, mostly because I just don’t feel like myself – between the constant nausea, the exhaustion, and the bowling ball I feel like I have strapped to my belly, it was hard to stick with my routines. Since we’re days away from welcoming our new baby, I’ve been more focused than ever on getting back on track with my fitness goals. The new challenge I feel I face is not only finding the time to work out, but also finding a way to fit it into my budget. Costly gym memberships seem to be finding a place lower and lower on my priority list. So how do I get a good workout in while still trying to save money? I’ve brainstormed some options that I feel could be a good fit for our new lifestyle. Will any of these ideas work well for you?

Work out at home. You don’t need to be at a gym to get a great workout in. You can do bodyweight exercises, use DVDs or online videos, purchase your own weights, or even your own treadmill (you can usually get a great deal on used equipment online). Only buy equipment that you know you’ll use, and your up-front costs will be worth it in the long run, as opposed to paying for a monthly gym membership. I’ve found a few DVDs we’ll be trying out in the coming months that seem to maximize both time and money spent – while it’s a small price to pay up-front, we’ll be able to continue to use the workouts over and over again.

Running. This used to be one of my favorite forms of free exercise, and my husband continues to train for half-marathons, so I’d say he’s a fan, too. It requires practically no equipment (depending on if you count your running shoes as such), and you get to enjoy being outdoors. When the weather is nice, I always feel like I’m missing out by being stuck in a gym. This is a great way to get the best of both worlds.

Take advantage of employer benefits. A lot of larger companies now offer gym access to their employees for free to promote healthier lifestyles. Check to see if any facilities are available to you, or if your company offers a discount for gym membership somewhere else. My employer has recently opened a brand-new gym facility on campus that’s larger and state-of-the-art, so I’m looking forward to trying that out at no additional cost to me! As a bonus, my husband and close friends and family are able to purchase discounted memberships of sorts in order to use it, as well.

Community classes. Healthy initiatives seem to be turning into a hot topic all over our city now. The yoga studio near our home offers free classes to members of the community in order for their new instructors to gain more teaching experience. Free fitness classes and activities are also being offered in our city’s town square when the weather is nice. Check with your local health clubs and fitness organizations to see if they have similar offers available.

Switch facilities. If you still feel more comfortable in a gym setting, there are a lot of more affordable options available now. Many of the more commercialized gyms (i.e. Planet Fitness, Crunch Gyms) have monthly memberships for as low as $9 per month, and all of your basic equipment can be found here. Many of the gyms that are more expensive have more amenities – things like pools, saunas, racquetball courts, etc. – but there’s really no reason to pay extra for those things if you don’t plan on using them. Find an option that would work best for you and your fitness goals!