Fitness for Less Tip 1: Get Creative
- Pound the pavement. Take a brisk walk each day, whether it's a paved path through your neighborhood or laps in a local mall or park. Take the staircase instead of the elevator, or create a full cardio/leg work out by climbing the stairs two at a time. Park your vehicle remotely whenever you can to add some mileage to your walk.
- Make chores around the house your workout. Mow the lawn, weed the garden, trim the hedges, rake the leaves or shovel the snow. Even indoor activities such as vacuuming and scrubbing the floors or counters, count as a workout if you increase your heart rate.
- Join in the fun with the kids or dog. If you have children, don't just sit back and watch them play. Get involved with a game of tag or kickball. Walk them to the playground. Dance with them to music. Take a family bike ride. Go to a community pool and swim, or use aqua weights. If you have a dog, take it for a long walk, or modestly jog with it. Dogs love activity, and it’s a great source of cardio for both.
Fitness for Less Tip 2: Improvise
If you'd rather not spend anything on exercise equipment, use ordinary household items for various upper and lower body exercises:
- Canned goods. Many canned goods can serve double duty as hand weights.
- Milk or water jugs. Fill empty milk or water jugs with water or sand and secure the tops with duct tape. As your fitness level changes and improves, simply add more water or sand to increase the resistance. If you’re in question as to how much weight you're lifting, just weigh the jug on your household scale for a fairly accurate reading.
- Step stools or wooden crates. A low, sturdy step stool or heavy crate can become instant exercise equipment if you need to use it for step-up training — an aerobic exercise resembling stair climbing.
- Go old school. Get to a park and use the monkey vars, the track, the stairs or just do old fashioned calisthenics.
Fitness for Less Tip 3: Consider Modest Affordable Fitness Investments
If you're looking for fitness bargains on modest equipment, these inexpensive fitness products may be good options:
- Dumbbells. Dumbbells are compact, hand-held weights that you can use to strengthen your upper body. They're available in many shapes and sizes.
- Resistance tubing or bands. These stretchy tubes offer weight-like resistance when you pull on them. Use the tubes to build strength in your arms and other muscles. Choose from varying degrees of resistance, depending on your fitness level.
- Jump-ropes. Skipping rope can be a great cardiovascular workout and can also be good to strengthen the calves and Achilles’ tendon.
- Fitness ball. A fitness or stability ball, looks like a large beach ball. You can perform a variety core exercises, including abdominal crunches, oblique side crunches, or simply stretch your spine out. You can also use a fitness ball to enhance your flexibility and balance.
- Exercise videos, DVDs or podcasts. Create the feel of a health club aerobics class in your own living room — or choose a program that will help you improve your strength and flexibility. Pick a program that matches your current fitness level endorsed by a certified fitness instructor. Take into consideration any issues you may be struggling with, for example, shoulder impingement, rotator cuff, meniscus, or tendonitis.
If you're able to make a slightly bigger investment, you might consider motivating video games that are designed to get your blood flowing. Depending on the software and game system you have, you may be able to do dancing, boxing, swing a virtual tennis racket or golf club, practice yoga, and even improve your strength and flexibility.
Fitness for Less Tip 4: Be a Savvy Fitness Shopper
If you're interested in a specific exercise class or piece of equipment, do your homework and shop around.
- Check out your local recreation department. Many recreation departments offer discounted fitness classes to local residents. If you are going to be under the guidance of an instructor, ask and be sure that he or she is certified by a reputable organization. If you live near a high school or college with a fitness center, ask if the facility is available to community members.
- Buy used equipment. Some sporting goods stores specialize in used equipment — or you can check out listings for exercise equipment in the local newspaper. You may also find great deals on used exercise equipment online. Be sure the used equipment has been inspected and safe to use (tight bolts, pulleys, non-frayed cables, and stable benches).
- Share costs with a friend. Trade exercise videos or DVDs with a friend to avoid the monotony of getting bored doing the same redundant workout over and over again. Find a certified personal trainer who'll let you share the cost of a session with a friend or two.
- Know what to avoid. Some fitness products aren't worth buying, regardless of how low the price. For example, don't purchase herbal supplements or other products that claim fitness benefits overnight or promise to melt away pounds without diet and exercise.
Bottom Line on Affordable Ways to Get into Shape
Remember, getting in shape doesn't need to be expensive, just creative. Don't get caught up in long term memberships or purchases that you cannot afford. Instead, go with the fitness for less approach. Use these 4 affordable ways to get into shape and concentrate on your fitness goals — and how to realistically achieve them without breaking your budget.
About the Author Joe Savoia