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How to Get Fit on a Budget


Woman working out at home on yoga mat with weights

It’s now a few weeks into the New Year, and also the time that many people’s resolutions start falling apart. If this was the year you vowed to finally get fit, or get back into shape, but can’t justify the cost of a gym or trainer, don’t fret. Being fit doesn’t require spending a lot of money; it’s about altering your mindset and making small changes that will eventually have big payoffs. Here are five things to keep in mind to keep your wallet and body healthy.

Ditch the Gym

If you love your gym and find yourself going there regularly, great. However, that’s not the case for most people. Rather than spending the money on a costly gym membership, get outside whenever possible and run, walk, hike, bike, snowshoe – whatever makes you happy.

Of course, for those in colder climates, like me, that’s often easier said than done, so make sure to also have a few key pieces of equipment that you can use at home. A jump rope for indoor cardio and a set of dumbbells will get you far, and if you have the space, you can invest in a small stationary bike or elliptical machine. There’s also a free piece of equipment you already own: your body. Planks, pushups, squats, lunges – these can all be done with no equipment at all. Add a chair and now you have a tool with which to do tricep dips and step-ups.

There’s an App for That

Yes, there are plenty of paid online fitness plans from celebrity exercise bloggers, but the internet is also home to tons of free health and fitness content. I like to use Pinterest to aggregate workout ideas, and follow fitness bloggers on Instagram and YouTube for inspiration. Many of these bloggers have 30-day workout challenge ideas to get you started at a variety of levels. (I’m doing a Click here to view the 100 Ab Challenge right now – don’t ask how it’s going.) If you want to get really old-fashioned, you can visit your local library for some free exercise DVDs.

Keep Moving

Like I mentioned in my first point, the best thing you can do is get moving. Make it a point to get off the couch or out of your chair at work at least once an hour, walk or stand during meetings when possible, take the stairs or leave your car at home when you’re not going very far. I know you’ve heard it before, but those small steps will make a difference, and are also great for your back!

Don’t Fall for Expensive Diets

If you are tempted to drink only specialty order shakes for a month, don’t. They are expensive, and whatever weight you may lose will likely just be water weight that comes back right away. Instead, start writing down everything you consume in a day, either using an app such as Click here to sign up for MyFitnessPal, or with an actual pen and paper, and look at where you can make changes. Calorie counting apps will help you track if you’re eating more than you’re burning, and help you break down your macros (carbs, fat, protein).
Rather than drinking any sort of magic pre or post workout, stick to water. The more water you drink, the better. Last but not least, cut down on meals out to save money and calories. You might be shocked at how even a seemingly healthy salad prepared outside the home may do more harm than good.

Have an Accountability Buddy

Turn getting fit into a group challenge. Find a friend who’ll work out or go on walks with you, and get competitive. If you have a FitBit, use the weekly or weekend challenge to start a step competition among friends or coworkers. If your goal is weight loss, apps such as Click here to sign up for DietBet can be a good motivator by putting a little cash incentive into fitness.

If you would really like to get a personal trainer, but can’t justify the cost, ask if a trainer would be willing to train you and a friend at a shared cost, or join a gym with small group fitness classes.

It’s not easy, but once you make fitness a part of your lifestyle, these small adjustments will hopefully become habits for life. Happy exercising!