Exercising on a Budget: How to Get Fit Without an Expensive Gym Membership

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Does the idea of parting with your hard-earned money for a gym membership leave you sweating, but for all the wrong reasons? Would you be thinking more about the money you were burning than the calories you were dropping? If so, don’t worry. You can protect your health and your bank account at the same time with these exercises that won’t cost you much.

1. Hit Your Stride With Running

Even if you’ve never been a runner, there are a lot of reasons you should consider starting. If you’re strapped for cash, the most compelling reason is how cheap it is. The only must-have piece of equipment you need for running is a good pair of running shoes.

If you’ve never run, you can access free Couch to 5k running programs online. In just a few weeks, you’ll be ready to run your first 5k, or 3.1-mile, race. These programs make running less intimidating by building up gradually to that distance.

Although you might not be a runner right now and it might not sound like your idea of a good time, it is highly addictive once you start. I began running four years ago after never understanding the appeal of it, and since that time, I’ve competed in 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons. You’ll never get bored with it because you’ll never run out of new routes and you can do it anywhere.

2. Channel Your Inner Child and Get a Bicycle

When we were kids, many of us rode around on bicycles – not for the exercise, but because they were a good time. As an adult, bicycles still can provide us with a lot of fun, but also an inexpensive way to get a great cardiovascular workout.

You don’t have to part with much money to get a decent bicycle with gears and a helmet. Even better, you may end up saving money with your purchase if you start riding your bike to work every day. You won’t have to fill up your car with as much gas or pay for public transportation then.

3. Pop in an Exercise DVD

It may not make you feel like you’re getting in a serious workout when you don’t leave the confines of your own home, but exercise DVDs can be a real challenge. And the great part is the variety – you can do boot camp workouts, yoga, cardio, or strength training. You can find workout videos for beginners or hardcore workouts if you’re craving a challenge.

If you don’t like the idea of buying a few DVDs or renting them from your local library, you can find all kinds of free workouts to watch and participate in on YouTube.

4. Play Frisbee in the Park

Tossing a frisbee around with a friend can be a blast, and you’ll barely even notice you’re getting a workout as you sprint to catch a challenging throw your friend made. You’ll get some fresh air too, which can be great for relaxing your mind and unwinding from stress.

A good frisbee will only cost a few dollars and it’ll last for years to come. If you want to take it to the next level, you can try your hand at disc golf. With its surge in popularity in recent years, it’s easy to find disc golf courses in almost any city you visit.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with disc golf, you throw a disc that’s similar to a frisbee at targets throughout a course. Your object is to land the disc inside of your target.

If you’ve never gotten the hang of throwing frisbees, you can always opt for playing fling sock in the park instead. A fling sock is a bean bag with a long fabric tail. You’ll feel like Wonder Woman out there preparing to launch that thing through the air.

Whether you choose frisbee, disc golf, or throwing a fling sock around, you’ll get a total body workout. Your arms will be doing the throwing and your legs will constantly be on the move.

5. Walk Your Way to Health

Walking might be the most underrated exercise. But let’s take a closer look at it. It’s totally free, and it can take you anywhere. Unlike with some other types of exercise, it’s hard to get a walking injury unless you’re doing it in the dark and you step in a hole and twist your ankle.

Walking does more than work your body though – it can give you quiet reflection time to think about your life. It can relieve your stress from work or troubling relationships in your life. Because it’s such a simple and intuitive act – just putting one foot in front of the other – your mind can go anywhere it wants as your legs move you physically along.

Or, if you don’t want to be alone with your thoughts, you can use your walking time as a chance to catch up with your friends. Invite one, or a whole group, to walk with you. You’ll find you’re more motivated to walk extra miles if you’re enjoying your company.

If the weather isn’t cooperating, you can head to your local mall and log your miles there.

Use Your Imagination

If you’re committed to the idea of exercising, there are free or inexpensive opportunities all around you. You don’t have to belong to a fancy gym or hire a personal trainer to reach your fitness goals. You can do it all on your own, with a little creativity guiding your way.

Remember how you used to get your exercise when you were a kid? You just concentrated on having fun and the rest fell into place. You didn’t have a large bankroll to support you and you still were most likely super fit and having a great time anyway. If you find a way to reconnect with the child you used to be, you may end up doing more than saving money and burning calories. You may find inner joy that makes you feel years younger – and you can’t put a price tag on that.

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About the author

Luke Glowacki

Luke is interested in psychology and philosophy. He’s also an enthusiast of meditation and personal development. He has a blog at where he writes about meditation, lucid dreaming, stress, binaural beats and more. Please check his blog and Pinterest profile.