Being on a tight budget, or removed from the gym, does not have to keep you from a healthy, active lifestyle. Working out on a budget will require creativity and focus. It is possible to have stay fit while reducing costs.
Today, we welcome Kat, who is willing to share some tips for working out on a budget. She is a self-employed pilates instructor who shares topics on health, fitness, and finance. She recently started an enlightening blog, AChatWithKat.com, that provides FREE resources on exercises and the anatomy. Check it out!
I hope you find her guest post to be informative, interesting, and educational. Enjoy!
Pilates, HIIT, Boxfit or Zumba? When it comes to workouts, you’re spoiled for choice. And the range is constantly increasing: since the Coronavirus crisis, a lot of gyms have moved their offers online
Top Tips for Low-Cost Workouts
So, how can you do an effective workout without breaking the bank?
The most effective exercise routine includes cardio, some weight or resistance training and some stretching. Overloading your muscles through weight training not only helps them to grow stronger and become more effective at burning calories, but it also has many secondary health benefits such as increasing bone density and heart health. One cost-effective way to work out is to buy a set of weights and combine the weight training with some running or swimming. Instead of the ongoing cost of the gym, you have a one-off expense. High quality weights can last for decades, so they are worth the cost.
However, if you have limited space at home or move around a lot, you can do bodyweight exercises instead. If done well, they have a similar effect as workouts involving weights. Here are my favourite types of free bodyweight workouts:
This is a workout designed for the Royal Canadian Air Force. It contains five basic cardio, strength and stretching exercises that get harder as you progress through the levels. The 5BX is for men and the XBX for women and they can both be completed in a very small space in under 15 minutes. This is a great way to keep a base level of fitness with little effort.
2. Youtube Workouts
There’s no shortage of workouts available on Youtube. If you’re new to exercising or have trouble getting motivated, consider starting with 10-minute segments. It is much less daunting to start exercising if you know it will be over in 10 minutes. For more experienced people, Pamela Reid offers a wide range of challenging workouts on Youtube.
3. Free Outdoor Exercise
In most bigger towns, there is at least one free or cheap outdoor exercise group. This could be as simple as a running or hiking group or as organised as London’s Our Parks system, a community of trainers offering free sessions in countless London parks.
Motivating Yourself Without a Trainer
A personal trainer does more than just select appropriate exercises: he or she helps the client to stay on track and motivated over the long term and it can be hard to achieve this on your own. Let’s explore some strategies we can use to stay motivated when working out independently.
Firstly, make sure you know what type of person you are. If you are good at motivating yourself, you could draw up an exercise plan and tick off each workout when it’s done. However, if you need accountability to stick to your goals, speak to your friends about your goal and tell them to ask you about it in a month’s time. For an even stronger motivator, use the power of shame. Tell your friends:
“If I don’t stick to my routine, I must (insert something embarrassing here).”
For example, I would choose ‘sing at a Karaoke bar’, since that is something I really do not want to do. The thought of having to sing in front of strangers would definitely scare me into working out.
For a more positive approach, you could work out with a group. As mentioned, there are many free outdoor exercise communities available. You can find them through your local notice boards, a Google search or the Meetup app. As an added bonus, such an exercise group is a great place to meet new, like-minded people who are as focused on their goals as you are on yours. And if there’s nothing suitable, why not start your own group?
When to Pay for a Workout
So should everyone do free exercise, all the time?
Of course not! I am a Pilates teacher for a reason, after all. There are instances when a paid class or a gym membership is worth it. Here are examples of people who could benefit from classes or gyms, and some ways for them to keep their costs low and motivation high.
The injured person: If you have a severe injury or condition, exercising on your own might not be safe. Many of my clients fall into this category. Consider doing private lessons for a while and then transitioning to small group training. You could also ask your trainer to make up a homework routine for you, so that you can exercise for free in between sessions.
1. The Savvy Saver
If you are already saving 50%+ of your salary or if you are financially independent, you could consider adding some variety to your workout routine by attending a gym or a class. Personally, I joined a budget fitness centre that opened up near my home because I live in a studio apartment and enjoy having a dedicated place to exercise. With a savings rate of 60+%, this doesn’t break the bank for me and if my income or savings rate drops, this is an easy thing to cut out.
2. The Elderly Beginner
This is another typical Pilates client. 65+ clients who are not used to regular exercise often need some guidance at first. A group class targeted at their demographic could be a nice way of easing into exercise. Many people in this age group also belong to the ‘savvy savers’, so paying for classes won’t harm their finances. If you are an elderly beginner with fewer financial resources, you could look for free outdoor exercise sessions near you.
3. The Pro
If you’re a very experienced athlete or want to do a specialised type of exercise like dance, you’ll need expert coaching at some point. Once you’ve exhausted all the free resources in your community, you have no other option than joining a class. Before you start, research all options in your local area to choose an instructor who’s both qualified and offers good value for money. You could also offer to coach younger students or beginners or do other tasks in the training centre in exchange for a reduced rate or even free classes. When I was dancing in university, I taught at my local studio and the wages covered all of my training costs.
Do you have more tips about exercising for free? What are your favourite tricks and tools to keep your fitness routine affordable?
More about the writer:
Kat provides biweekly posts on topics such as health, anatomy, finance, self-employment and even philosophy. She loves meeting new people and learning with others. Please take the time to visit the informative website AChatWithKat.com and subscribe to her weekly updates.