Most of us probably need to go to the gym more (or at least we say we do). But gym memberships are expensive, and even if you have the money to pay for one, if you have kids or strange working hours, sometimes a gym membership just won’t work out. For instance, I only live two blocks from a gym I could get a great monthly discount on, but their hours don’t run very late so I can’t go when my husband comes home from work, and I can’t go during the day without finding childcare since the gym doesn’t provide any—and childcare means spending more money, etc, etc. Not very frugal at all. But there are a few different ways you can get in a variety of exercises even if you’re in a similar situation as me, without paying for anything!
Jogging/Walking Outside – Your comfort level about this might depend on the type of neighborhood you live in. But the cheapest way to get some decent exercise in is to throw on a pair of good walking shoes and make a few laps around the block. It’s free and not too strenuous, especially for people who are just starting out with exercise.
Climbing stairs – Do you have stairs in your house? Maybe you’re lucky enough to live in an apartment and can climb stairs for free! Climbing is great exercise and you can mix things up by taking two steps at a time, walking, jogging, etc. Be careful on the way down as you can hurt your knees much easier than going up—take an elevator down if you can, otherwise, don’t push yourself!
Jump rope – All right, you are paying for this, but a basic jump rope is only $5-$10—much cheaper than a gym membership and most other exercise equipment! Jumping uses muscles in your legs and arms and forces you to work on your rhythm and balance at the same time. It’s intense, but cheap and effective!
How else do you exercise without spending (much) money?
Exercise shouldn’t cost as much as it does. There are a number of franchises dedicated to getting in shape. There are gym memberships, DVDs, and exercise machines and equipment. The secret these companies don’t want you to realize is that you don’t need any of these things to get in shape.
Contrary to what you may have been told you don’t need a yoga mat to practice yoga. You don’t need blocks and you don’t need the belt. You don’t even need yoga pants. What you do need is instruction and you can get that free at doyogawithme.com. If you feel the need to see your yoga space, use a blanket instead and if you want to be on a block use two equally thick books or a folded blanket. The more you progress however, the less you will need these items. The only reason you may need a mat at home is if you have slippery floors.
If you have kids one of the best ways to lose weight is to play with them. Many schools that have been underfunded for a physical education class know the value of basic exercises like jumping jacks, push ups, and sit ups. They also know the value of getting children to play games with each other. Go outside and play tag and red rover. Find bleachers to climb together. Not only will you keep in shape, your children will have a first hand example on being physically fit. It will also teach them that physical fitness is fun, not a chore.
The most basic exercises often are the best. Many people get a thrill from walking or running. Pick a time you enjoy and a place that is public and pretty. Have a partner to share the experience with, or compete with. The only items you may need for walking and running is a pair of sneakers and clothing that breathes.
When I was single with more disposable time and money than I could appreciate at the time, I had a gym membership and took advantage of both the equipment and the classes to keep in shape. Fast forward a few years. I get married and move to a new state at the same time, have a baby before our first anniversary and another two years later. Suddenly, the time and money spent on working out have faded into a vague, very distant memory.
I have always enjoyed working out and really do feel the difference in my energy level when I miss it. So, I needed some way to work out even though I no longer had the disposable time and income to make it happen. So, I found a few simple ways that work for me:
1. Get Outside. If you really want to work out, this is the simplest and least expensive (free!) way to do it. Power walking, jogging, running, bike riding can all be done right outside your house. When I only had one child–and she slept great through the night–I would get up before my husband left for work to go get a little walk or jog in before he had to leave for work. Then, when he was home on the weekend, I would get out at a more godly hour to get my workout. I almost never just walked right outside my door to workout in the past. Now, I love it. Now that I have two toddlers, I even incorporate it into my walks with my children in the stroller. If I know it’s the only workout I’ll get, I make a point to take them to a playground that is a slightly longer walk/jog for me.
2. Workout DVDs. I used to think that workout DVDs were the most boring and least challenging forms of workout possible. Not anymore. Not anymore because I had to come up with ways to workout in case I could not leave the house (because baby #2 has not been great at sleeping through the night). I happen to like Jillian Michaels’ workout DVDs. It’s a good challenge, it’s only 20 minutes and it’s only about $10.
3. Play With Your Children. I mean really play. Get outside and run and jump with your children. When I go to the playground with the children, I play along. There have been times that they are in the swings right next to each other with me hopping or jumping from one to the other to swing them. It’s a game to them and a great workout for me. While my 3 year old runs around on the slides and swings, I take my 1-year old on the swings and slides also. He’s a heavy 1-year old. So, it wears me out! 😉
There are so many fun, free or inexpensive ways to get or stay in shape. What do you do?