How To Get Fit Without Breaking the Bank | Fitness on the Cheap
Getting motivated to work out, or eat healthy can be hard enough on it’s own. We’re talking fighting the cookie baking co-workers, the endless TV watching spouses, or the “let’s go to happy hour!” five nights a week friends. Add on the cost of gym memberships, apparel, supplements and everything else the health and fitness industry assures you that you NEED to have, it’s not surprising most people opt out.
One article estimates that American’s will spend up to $155 / month on health and fitness. I’m not here to tell you if that is too much or too little. I am here to tell you I feel your struggle. Health is important but so is being financially responsible. I may not be hoarding toothpaste and pasta in a spare bedroom a la Extreme Couponing — but if I can save money on something I’m going to buy anyways you bet I’m doing it.
Top tips for getting and staying fit without breaking the bank, fitness on a budget!
Make sure your goals align with your budget.
Number one before you dive in — look at your budget. What can you really afford? And I mean like REALLY afford, not “If I put this on my credit card and pay of a little bit when I can” kind of afford. Finances are so individual - but there is an option out there for everyone. Whether it’s $5 or $500 — the MOST important thing you can do is get really honest with yourself and then get creative with what you’ve got.
The reality is that some types of exercise are more expensive than others. Apparel, equipment, various accessories, facility fees, events, etc. can all add up super fast. Take swimming for example. It’s a great low impact total body workout, but requires access to a pool through a swim club or gym. If that’s not in your budget — look for something else that is. If swimming is really important to you make a plan to save the money or gradually cut back on other expenses to make that work in the long term.
Free & Cheap Fitness Classes
Now that you know what you can afford - maybe that budget is small to start. No worries because there are so may options if you take a little extra time and don’t mind getting creative.
Free Fitness Events
Youtube is a goldmine for free workout videos. You can get great ideas to build your own workout or follow along with something in real time. These are all channels I use on the daily and provide clear easy content. Nothing fancy or over the top.
Yoga - Yoga With Adriene,
Instagram and fitness blogs:
Set up a home gym:
A few pairs of dumbbells may seem like a big upfront cost, [a set of 8lb weights will set you back about $50] but once you have them there’s so much you can do. I recommend getting 3 sets — one at a weight you can do most exercises, one a little lighter and one a little heavier. 5, 8, and 10 lbs is a great combo for anyone starting out.
There are plenty of tutorials floating around the internet for DIY dumbbells — and I’m all for recycling but if you have to spend money on sand or concrete to make them just buy weights.
New client discounts and freebies:
Many studios will offer a free first week or a free first-class trial to entice new clients to try their workout and get them hooked. Let’s face it boutique fitness classes are expensive AF — we’re talking $20 a class for a first time — so anytime is studio is willing to offer you FOR FREE a chance to try them out take it.
You can also check out Class Pass as great way to try many different studios before committing to just one. Make the most of their one week free trial by picking a week you can be sure to go to ask many different classes as you can. Another way to get to know what you like and what you really want to spend your money on.
Get a gym membership - and actually use it!
Saving isn’t just about spending less - but getting the most bang for the bucks you DO spend. First things first if you absolutely must join a gym - check out this article with the top tips to save money on your membership.
If you absolutely cannot get by without some type of boutique fitness - stick with ONE studio and get a monthly membership.
Get up and up on your studio's cancellation policy.
Most studios will have some kind of cancellation policy — and it can be anywhere from 2-24 hours before the class starts. Meaning if you cancel after that time you will get a partial or complete charge for that class. Even if you have an unlimited membership - the studio may charge you a fee for not showing up or cancelling too late.
Not only is this a big bummer for your wallet but someone on the wait list could have gotten a spot in class. If you DO use Class Pass know that they will ALSO charge you a no-show fee - on-top of what the studio might charge. Yep. Respect the studio and give them plenty of notice.
Dressing the part | Saving money on gym clothes.
Equipment and the actual workout aside - fitness apparel is still a growing industry. [I should know - it’s my day job right?]. Every brand wants you in their NEWEST and CUTEST outfits.
Less is More
You don’t actually need 25 pairs of black leggings. Or 25 pairs of leggings of any color for that matter. You need AT MOST about 5-6 pairs - one for every day of the week you may workout. You only plan to get to the gym 3 days a week? Great you only need 3 pairs. You know how many pairs of running shorts I own? 4. Until this summer it was only 3. You know why? That’s how many days of the week I was running. Not only is it not necessary, it just makes it harder to pack my gym bag.
Matching CAN be important
That being said - plan your gym wear purchases wisely. If matching or outfit coordination is as important to you as it is to me [when I look good I feel good ya know?] then buy pieces that all match, or at least coordinate. Don’t buy a hot pink top if it does’t match with anything else you own! Don’t buy the crazy printed leggings Think of it like a capsule wardrobe for your fitness closet.
Being cheap doesn’t mean you don’t ever spend money. It means you are careful about where your money goes and invest in things that are going to last in the long run. Think about the things that may make sense to invest in, for example quality shoes if you are a runner or a good supportive sports bra [this goes for all ladies and all activities].
Where to get a good deal.
Ok so buy less, buy smart, and invest in what matters. But what if you really need to go out and revamp your workout wardrobe? If brand names are your jam - consider hitting up TJMAxx, Marshall’s or Nordstrom Rack [my personal fav] for discounted goods. You can also stalk the sale section for end of season items that you can wear next year.
If brands don’t matter to you then head out to stores like Target or Old Navy. You will still get great quality but without the up-charge for the logo.
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