Is it just us, or has the fitness industry reached new, beyond expensive heights? Between the proliferation of boutique fitness studios and the competition growing steeper in the gym space, it feels virtually impossible to include the costs in our budgets without resorting to ramen noodles each night for dinner.
Since that’s not a healthy option either, we looked for some simple and cheap ways to stay fit. Money shouldn’t be a barrier to entry for living your best (and healthiest) life, so check out our 10 suggestions below and get moving without going broke.
1. Take advantage of all things complimentary
Remember those boutique fitness studios and expensive gyms we mentioned earlier? Well, a fair number of them offer free services to get you in the door. Some studios have free guest passes or will give you your first class for free, and gyms tend to have free trials lasting up to a week to let you see if you really want to spend your money with them. Some of them even offer a free personal training consultation, so walk in like you could own the place and enjoy. Cycling through these offerings in your area should keep you busy exercising for quite a while.
2. Attend all of those free yoga classes in the park
When you run out of indoor class passes, make your way over to your local park space and see what’s going there. A lot of park services organizations set up free fitness events, which are noted on their calendars on their websites. Even better, up-and-coming yoga teachers who aren’t yet working in studios offer free outdoor yoga classes to the general public on the weekends to help them build up their following. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy the outdoors. It sounds like a win-win to us.
3. Opt to walk pretty much everywhere
That’s right, commuting on your own two legs is entirely free and can burn mega calories if you pick up the pace and keep it going for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. So walk whenever you can in lieu of using cars, buses, trains and the like. Bonus: you’ll also be helping to keep the air you breathe cleaner in the process.
4. And use your local bike share program when walking isn’t in the cards
When walking isn’t exactly the most reasonable commuting option for how far you need to go, you still don’t need to default to a motorized vehicle of some sort. Hop on a bike instead. And if you don’t have one of your own in your apartment, storage space or garage, consider joining your local bike share program. Most fees are incredibly reasonable. For example, an annual membership for New York City’s CitiBike will run you less than $15 per month.
5. Try out a Meetup group or two
For those of you who genuinely love the group feel of workout classes and don’t want to compromise that aspect of your fitness routine, Meetup could be just what you’re looking for. Find a group of like-minded folks in your area and create your own weekly class together. You might even end up making some new, amazing friends in the process.
6. Head out for a hike on the weekends
Isn’t it wonderful that Mother Nature doesn’t charge you a cent to spend a day in her presence? Hiking benefits both the body and soul in so many ways, so consider reserving a chunk of your weekends for this outdoor activity and put an end to your stress about how badly you need to both leave your work desk and log some exercise time.
7. Create the perfect home gym
If you have $50 to spare, purchase a few fitness necessities for your apartment. All you need is an exercise mat, a stability ball, two 5-pound dumbbells and a jump rope. With those pieces, you can accomplish pretty much anything in the way of physical fitness. The best part about this one is that the price you pay is a one-time deal, and you get to use the equipment any time you want without leaving the comfort of your own home. You’ll definitely be the fittest of your friends during the winter months and the rainy season.
8. Make exercise challenges out of your favorite TV shows
Just because the television is on doesn’t mean you have to be sprawled out on your couch to watch it. Pair a few exercises to certain parts of the show you’re watching — like do 10 crunches every time Chandler makes a joke in “Friends” — so you can chill and work out at the same time. You might be surprised by how many reps you end up cranking out by the time your Netflix binge is over.
9. Go out dancing
Yes, you read that right. We’re telling you to go have a fun night out with your girlfriends. Just be sure to pick a venue with no cover and a dance floor that’s always blasting good music. Dancing can be one of the most exhilarating forms of exercise, especially if you opt for styles like salsa. So go enjoy yourself and burn bunches of calories in the process.
10. Volunteer for an active form of community service
Why not combine your need for exercise with your desire to give back? There are so many forms of community service that really get the body moving. Building houses with Habitat for Humanity and volunteering at a local animal shelter are incredibly active and rewarding ways to spend your free time. So pick a project that aligns with your personal interests and get moving, both for you and your community.