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How to Get Fit on a Budget: Frugal Ways You Can Crush Your Fitness Goals

By Rebecca Lake
July 3, 2019

Warmer weather can provide some serious motivation to work on your beach body – or at least get in better shape.

But, between the cost of gym memberships, workout clothes and equipment, getting fit can be a budget-buster. Fortunately, there are countless low-cost and free alternatives to help you get in shape while saving money. Take a look:

Use Technology to Access Free Exercise

One of the best ways to get fit for free might be right in the palm of your hand. Smartphones and fitness gadgets offer affordable ways to work out and monitor your health without requiring you to spend a lot of money. Here are three ways to use tech to your advantage as you pursue a healthier lifestyle:

1. Work Out at Home With YouTube Exercise Channels

YouTube isn’t just for watching cat videos. There are a variety of channels dedicated exclusively to fitness and exercise that can help you get fit. You can even create a customized workout routine using free exercise videos without having to pay the high fees associated with hiring a personal trainer.

For example, there are channels featuring free online exercise videos for yoga, pilates, kettlebells, kickboxing, cardio – even spinning if you have a stationary bike. Some channels are led by everyday people who are fitness enthusiasts but others feature certified fitness trainers and experts. You can experiment with different workout techniques to see what works for you, without spending a dime.

2. Download Fitness Apps for Training, Tracking and Accountability

One of the best ways to stay motivated when you’re new to working out is to keep track of your progress. There are apps you can download to your mobile device to help you track your daily workouts, keep tabs on your diet and monitor your vitals. Some are free, while others may offer a basic version at no cost but require you to upgrade to the premium version to unlock extra features.

The upside of this, however, is that the price you pay to download a premium fitness app may be far less than what you’d pay for a monthly gym membership. If you’re looking for some affordable fitness app recommendations, check these out:

  • MyFitnessPal – MyFitnessPal allows you to keep a daily food log, tracking calories and nutritional content for everything you eat. This free app also lets you track your calories burned through exercise. If you want a more in-depth analysis of your diet, you can pay $9.99/month or $49.99/year for the premium version.
  • Noom – Noom is a paid fitness app that’s designed for people who have specific weight loss goals they’re trying to achieve. It offers personalized weight loss coaching for $199/year. You can also pay monthly but that’s the more expensive option.
  • Gixo – The Gixo app features on-demand workout routines led by personal trainers and fitness instructors. You can start using the app on a free trial basis, then pay $14.99/month if you agree to be billed yearly.

3. Buy a Cheap Fitness Tracker to Monitor Workout Goals

Wearables can also help you make progress with getting fit when you’re trying to be frugal. These devices track can track your heart rate, sleep patterns, the number of steps you take, blood pressure and other vital signs at any given moment.

Wearables can also be a motivator for people who like to have a visual for how well they’re doing when it comes to improving their health.

In terms of cost, there’s a lot of variety with plenty of affordable options to choose from. It’s possible to find wearables for under $100; just be sure to research the features and read the reviews before you buy. Also, check to see whether a wearable syncs up with your favorite fitness app, since some offer that feature.

Get Fit For Free with What You Have on Hand

If you’re planning to work out around the house, you don’t necessarily need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment. You may find that you have everything you need already – if you’re willing to get creative with your workout choices. Try these two home gym ideas on the cheap:

1. DIY Your Exercise Equipment and Home Gym

Forget spending money on kettlebells or weights.

All you may need to work out your muscles and get fit for free are a couple of gallons of milk or some heavy canned goods. Once you’re ready to move on from weight training, look for other cheap and easy ways to get a workout around the house.

For example, you could try running up and down the stairs if you live in a two-story house or using a chair to do step-up exercises, dips or incline push-ups. Jogging in place is another option. Doing wall push-ups is yet another option. The point is: If you’re trying to figure out how to get fit on a budget, try using what you have to work with – for free.

2. Use Your Bodyweight

Bodyweight exercises are another option for a free workout and they can be highly effective in helping you get in shape. These exercises use your own body weight for resistance, and no hand weights or kettlebells are required. Plus, this costs you zero and you have the flexibility to get creative with your workouts and target the areas that are troubling you most.

Some examples of bodyweight exercises you can do at home for free include:

  • Burpees
  • Squats and jump squats
  • Push-ups
  • Lunges
  • Planks
  • Step-ups
  • Dips
  • Jumping jacks

Start with one or two exercises as you learn the basics, then build on your bodyweight routine from there as you get more comfortable.

Find Creative Ways to Move as Much as Possible

If you don’t have time to create a set bodyweight routine or create your own DIY gym equipment at home, you can still work on getting fit for free just by increasing how often you move.

You likely have multiple chances throughout the day or weak to get the blood flowing and potentially break a sweat, which can help promote better health.

If you’re looking for ideas to move creatively, here are a few you can try:

  • Take walks on your lunch break
  • Jog around your neighborhood (challenge level – jog through a local park or nature area that has varied terrain)
  • Play fetch with your dog if you have one
  • Bike where you need to go instead of driving
  • Get outside and do some yard work
  • Deep clean the house from top to bottom

Invest in Low-Cost Workout Equipment and Fitness Apparel

If you’re working out at home, here’s another tip for how to get fit on a budget: Stick with inexpensive workout clothing and equipment.

Think jump ropes, low-cost resistance bands, yoga mats, small hand weights and exercise balls. Save money by checking for sales and buying generic brands instead of pricey name brands. You can also use cash back apps and coupon codes to shop.

Also, consider what you can buy used instead of new to save money. You may find bargains on workout equipment or workout clothes by checking local yard sales, deal groups on Facebooks or consignment shops.

Find a Free or Low-Cost Fitness Community

One last cheap fitness tip: Consider joining a fitness community in your local area that offers free or low-cost membership.

For instance, your county parks and recreation department might sponsor an adult sports league that you can join for a small fee. Or, your local college might open up the gym or swimming pool to non-students for a minimal membership fee.

You can also look for local workout and fitness clubs. For example, if you’re a hiking enthusiast, there may be a local meetup group that hikes together. You can join a group like this without paying anything. This can also be a great way to connect with other people who are fitness-focused, while staying accountable to your health goals.

How Will You Save Money and Get Fit Frugally?

As you can see by all the tips here, it’s possible to get fit while also keeping your finances in good shape. Are you ready to get fit on a budget this summer?

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