Everyone is different & there is no right way to be fit. I’m only 21 years old, but I’ve learned that any exercises that I do must be enjoyable to me in order for me to work out consistently. You enjoy being fit much more if you enjoy what you’re doing & don’t have to force yourself to work out. I love trying new things, even if they don’t work for me, & I have a few ideas of how you can stay in shape on a budget.
I know that gym memberships are expensive & that they’re also not for everyone! But there are ways to use the gym and to still save money. If you are in college or live in an apartment complex where there is a gym, then use it! You’re already paying for it & if you don’t like to be in the gym when it’s crowded with people showing off their muscles, then try to go at a time where there are not as many people. If you don’t know how to use the machines or what to do with free weights then don’t be afraid to ask someone! It’ll take a few seconds & most people are glad to take a second & help someone else.
Most gyms offer exercise classes like Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, Spin, Boot Camp, Silver Sneakers, Kickboxing, etc. These classes can be a fun way to stay in shape with other people who enjoy doing the same types of things that you do! It’s inspiring & challenging to look over & see someone pushing themselves when you feel like quitting. It might be cheaper at some gyms to buy a day pass if you’re interested to going to one class a week than buying a full membership. Also, some communities offer free exercise classes, so check with community fitness organizations in your area!
Sometimes you just don’t want to leave the house to work out. Sometimes you need a long workout, & sometimes you need something short & sweet that will still leave you feeling like you accomplished your workout goals for the day. Workout videos can be a great way to stay fit with a little upfront investment. The key is to find a video that you will use over & over again so that you’re sure that you will get your money’s worth. A great way to see if a video is right for you is to read online reviews & watch promotional clips or to talk to your friends. There is so much out there from Karen Voight’s yoga videos to Tony Horton’s P90X system, so it’s helpful to narrow down what you’re wanting out of a video before you buy it. I personally enjoy Jillian Michaels’ videos (30 Day Shred & 6 Week 6 Pack in particular) because they require minimal equipment & time, are inexpensive & have multiple workouts on them. BUT I wouldn’t buy her weights, yoga mat, etc. Go to Ross, TJ Maxx or even Target for these items, which are often marked down & work just as well.
These can be very inexpensive ways to stay fit with just a few basic items: shoes & clothes! One way to motivate yourself to run or walk is to sign up for a race, especially one that contributes to a cause that you are passionate about. Yes, races can become expensive, especially the ones that are longer distances. However, even if someone runs 6 long distance races (which is a lot) these would still be far less than the cost of a yearly gym membership. Running only requires you & the great outdoors; some people purchase fancy heart rate monitors, underwear that doesn’t chafe & sports drinks, but these things are not necessary to begin running or walking.
Of course bikes can be expensive, but if you have one sitting in your garage collecting dust, then go out & ride it sometime! You could even take the time to run some errands on your bike instead of your car & save gas & help the environment. If you can bike to work, then you may not even need to plan your cardio workout!
Some people are athletic & some aren’t. I’m not athletic, coordinated or talented, but by being on sports teams in high school, I was able to stay fit. I don’t play sports now that I’m out of high school, but for you athletes & sports-lovers, get some buddies together & play a sport that you love! Nowadays this is easier to do than ever with Facebook & Twitter: simply create a group or message a few people for a pickup game. This is easier to do than you may think. Got a friend with a basketball goal in his/her driveway? Chances are that your friend likes to play basketball & may even have a ball—ask him/her if you can get a game going. Or plan a weekly time to reserve a court or field & go out there & sweat for a few hours!
This is much more important than most people realize. After any strenuous exercise you must stretch to return your muscles to their previous state. Muscles contract when they’re working hard, & stretching not only prevents soreness a day or two after working out, it also prevents injury. I’ve been playing sports & working out for 10 years, & I have been injured only once in that amount of time. You know how I was able to go back to running & going to Boot Camp class after being injured? Stretching & yoga. It’s so easy to skip stretching because it can seem boring or doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything, but as long as you’re not over extending muscles (read: sharp pain) then you’re doing good to your body. The best part about stretching? It’s FREE! No excuses not to do it!
You must stay hydrated before, during & after working out! The average adult needs 6-10 cups of water per day or about 100 oz. On days when you exercise, you should drink 12 to 20 oz. more to keep your body hydrated, energy levels elevated & muscles functioning properly (aka. No cramps!). Unless you’re active in a strenuous activity for over an hour, there’s usually no need for sports drinks, just water. Thankfully, H2O is cheap!
So, what do you do to stay in shape on a budget?
By Amy Henning | Amy tries to stay fit by running (slowly) & strength training but loves yoga, exercise classes & being active with others. She enjoys cooking, baking, & especially eating! Exercise helps her to maintain balance in her life by making time to sweat & work hard & prioritize her day.