Being more active and eating better are in my plans for the new year. Today I’m welcoming Sarah from The Orthodox Mama to share some great ideas for how to get fit without sacrificing your budget.
It’s that time of year again. That time when the Christmas presents have been put away, the New Year has been ushered in, and all across America you can hear a collective groan as people weigh themselves after the holidays. Millions make resolutions to lose weight, to go to the gym each day, and to finally fit into those pre-pregnancy jeans again.
If you have made a similar resolution, you may be tempted to go out and spend a bunch of money on the latest in-home gym equipment, electronic fitness helper, or personal trainer. However, if you are on a tight budget, that might not be prudent or even possible.
Do not despair! You can pursue your fitness goals without spending hundreds of dollars. I have learned that first-hand. In fact, this past year I have undergone a mild revolution in my exercise and fitness habits but have spent very little money doing so.
Here are 5 practical frugal tips I’ve learned along the way:
1- Not All Gyms are Created Equal
If you choose to join a gym, make a list of qualities and amenities that are important to you. Do you need a gym with free childcare? Do you want one with group classes? How about proximity to your house or place of work? What will help motivate you to go to the gym and actually use your membership?
I prioritized group classes. In college I discovered that I love working out with other people in a noncompetitive environment. Yoga, Pilates, Zumba—I enjoy them all! So I looked around my town until I found the gym with the most reasonably priced group classes. I actually discovered a little gem of a gym that charged $30 a month if you only take classes. Score!
Bonus Tip: Many gyms will be running specials and sales at the beginning of the year. Shop around to find the best deals on a gym that has the features you prioritized.
2- Think Outside the Gym
Perhaps you’ve never seen yourself as a “gym person.” Or, perhaps you don’t have the $30-$50 wiggle room in your monthly budget. Then it is time to think outside the gym. Literally! There are so many activities that you can do outdoors to increase your overall fitness. Running, walking, cycling, hiking, rock climbing, snow-shoeing, skiing, and more await you in the great outdoors.
If you are new to an exercise routine or are on a very limited budget, I would recommend walking or running. Lace up your shoes and hit the pavement. You can listen to some great podcasts while you walk or use the time to pray. Or, meet up with a friend and turn it into social time!
I never saw myself as a runner, but I knew that it was one of the least expensive ways to become more fit. So, at the beginning of 2015 I made the goal of completing one 5K race during the year. I trained for a few months and found that I actually enjoyed running! I began looking forward to the half an hour all by myself—a precious commodity for moms of young children. I was incredibly excited and proud of myself when I completed my 5K this past October. In 2016 I’m planning on running a 5K, an 8K, and a 10K. Pretty good for a non-runner!
3- Utilize Workout Videos
If running just isn’t your thing, or if the weather is keeping you indoors, it’s time to turn to workout videos. When trying to decide which video is right for you, you’ll want to keep a couple of things in mind.
First, take an honest assessment of your current fitness level. Some work outs are much more demanding than others, and choosing an advanced option when you’re not ready for it can lead to quick burn out. Second, consider the amount of time that you can dedicate to exercising. You may not have an hour, but do you have 30 minutes? How about 10 minutes? Some of my favorite work outs are the 10 Minutes Pilates series. These DVDs have 6 ten minute work outs that can be combined or done individually. I love being able to tailor my work out!
Bonus Tip: You Tube just might be your best friend if you are trying to get fit on a budget. A simple search on You Tube for “Pilates for Beginners” or “Zumba Workout for Beginners” will yield MANY results. Try a few and see which work for you!
4- Give the Y a Chance
Many people overlook the great opportunities available at their local YMCA. Most Ys have group classes, pools, exercise equipment, and more. But the best part, at least for those on a limited budget, is that most calculate their rates based upon your income.
A friend of mine purchased a year-long membership at the YMCA in her neighborhood when she had two young children and a husband who was deployed. The Y offered free childcare so that she was able to enjoy her group classes without paying for a babysitter. During those classes she discovered her love for fitness, which led to her career as a yoga instructor. So, go online to discover the rates at your YMCA—who knows where it may lead!
5- Remember That Becoming Fit is a Lifestyle
Finally, as you try to incorporate more exercise into your life, don’t forget to up your activity level on a day-to-day basis. Play tag with your kids. Jog a few laps around the park while they play. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. All of these small changes add up to a healthier you.
Also, healthy living involves more than just exercising. Sleeping well, eating right, and taking care of our spiritual health are also important. You can read more about this and helpful hints for Healthy Living on a Budget over on The Orthodox Mama.
You can make 2016 your healthiest year ever—and you don’t even have to break the bank to do it.
How about you?
- What are your best frugal fitness tips?
Sarah Wright is an Orthodox Christian, wife to her husband Dan, and mother to three young children. She also is a full-time middle school teacher and has just written her first children’s book. Sarah writes at The Orthodox Mama, a blog about faith, family, and frugal living. Some of the most popular posts include Engaging Children in Church: Tips and Tricks for Parents and What Frugal People Freeze. You’re invited to head over and take a look!
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