How to Get Fit on a Budget

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

It may seem that you have to have a personal trainer or an expensive gym to get into shape, but technology helps make it easy to make a fitness routine on a budget.

Before you start an exercise routine, talk with your primary care physician to make sure you don’t have any restrictions on the type of exercise you can do.

Apps

Apps can help you keep your exercise routine organized by tracking how much of a particular exercise you did or by leading you in a routine. Many are free and ad-supported, or you can pay a few dollars to have the ads removed. Apps exist for every kind of exercise you can think of, including walking/running, yoga, and weightlifting.

Couch to 5k, often referred to C25K, is a program designed to build people up into being able to run 5 kilometers, or 3.1 miles. This distance is common in fundraisers and races across the country. Dozens of apps exist for C25k, including ones meant for running outdoors (such as around the neighborhood) and those meant for running on a treadmill. Choose the one whose style you like the best, and don’t be afraid to repeat a week if you’re struggling.

Videos

If you want to follow a recorded exercise program at home, you have a plethora of free and cheap video options to choose from.

  • On Demand. If you already subscribe to cable, many cable providers have exercise videos for free on-demand. Take a look at your options.
  • YouTube. Dozens of YouTube channels have free exercise programs. From walking to yoga to weights, if you can think about it, you can find it.
  • Streaming services. If you already have a subscription to a streaming service, take a look to find exercise videos. Be beware – they don’t always stay on the service!
  • DVDs (or even VHS tapes). If you still have a DVD player (or a VHS player!), you can find cheap DVDs to play. Ask your friends if they have any old ones they can’t use because they’ve gone streaming-only, or check at a library sale or in your local thrift store.

Gyms

A gym membership has more of an ongoing cost than some of the other options mentioned here, but it can still be done economically. If you’re not motivated to work out at home or outdoors, if you’d like group exercise classes or to swim laps, a gym membership may be right for you.

First, figure out what you’re looking for. Make a list of the options a gym must have, the ones it would be nice to have, and the ones you don’t care at all about. Some things you may want to consider:

  • What equipment do you want?
  • What classes do you want?
  • What other amenities do you want, such as towel service or a locker room with showers?
  • What is your budget?

See what gyms are available in your area, what amenities they have, and what their pricing structures are like. Fitness clubs are often more expensive and may require a year-long contract. Religious or community organizations are often more affordable, and you don’t necessarily need to be a member of the organization to get a gym membership. Chain gyms, often found in shopping centers, may be the most affordable but have the fewest amenities. 

Outside of a Formal Program

Exercise does not have to be done following a program or class. You can run around your neighborhood, or bike on a rails-to-trails project. Similarly, group fitness is not restricted to classes done in gyms. If you’re open, you can find opportunities to exercise with others for free or with a small fee. Many areas have groups that meet up regularly to go hiking or running. Yoga studios may offer one-time classes in parks or in rooftop gardens. Even getting together with your friends to go walking around your neighborhood every day counts as group exercise, and is an excellent low-impact way to strengthen your body and your social bonds.