15 Ways to Get Fit Without Breaking Your Budget

Skip the expensive gear and supplements. Use these tips to focus on getting strong.

Getting physically fit can be overwhelming in a number of ways. But the one thing it should never overwhelm is your wallet. With fitness marketing experts mandating the purchase of this, that and the other thing, it’s easy to think you have to spend half your yearly salary to achieve your goals. You don’t, of course.

Keep in mind that there are many ways to cut back on your monthly expenses, and not just when it comes to your fitness. You can save money on your food budget, for example. And if your credit is in tip-top shape, you’ll be saving the most when it comes to interest rates on your credit cards, auto loans and even mortgage. (Want to know where your credit stands? You can check your credit scores, absolutely free, right here on Credit.com.)

Here are 15 ways to spend little to no money on your fitness endeavors.

1. Join a Gym

Most gyms currently operate on the idea of quantity over cost. In the current economic climate, signing up lots of members at a low membership fee is more tenable than is few members at a high one. This means that it is now cheaper than ever to join a gym and have access to quality exercise equipment.

2. Make Your Own Meals

If it’s true that you are what you eat, don’t be a number six on a value menu. Doing your own meal prep will allow you to be conscious of your food choices as well as the cost of food.

3. Walk

If you can get there on foot, leave your car at home. It’s more cost-efficient to burn calories as fuel than it is gasoline.

4. Skip the Supplements

Supplements offer the promise of better health, but they do so at a high cost. It’s not uncommon for people to spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a year on products of dubious efficacy. It can become a compulsion. If you don’t have a vitamin deficiency or a doctor’s note, you can do without supplementation.

5. Use Household Items as Weights

Do you have a gallon water jug lying around? How about a closed bag of cat litter? There are plenty of household items that can be used as resistance training tools. Want to do bicep curls, but you don’t have dumbbells? Use tomato cans.

6. Join a Club

While generally more expensive than traditional gyms, alternative gyms, like martial arts schools, can offer the benefit of group activity, motivation and warmth of atmosphere. All these are things that may keep you active. An unused gym membership is money thrown away.

7. Use the Stairs

Stair-climbing machines can cost thousands of dollars. There are five flights of stairs in my apartment building that are included in my rent.

8. Use Resistance Bands

Making a small investment in a set of resistance bands can be like buying yourself a home gym. There are a great number of exercises you can do with them in your own home and they take virtually zero space.

9. Stream Exercise Programs

Motivation abounds on the good old boob-tube. If you’ve got a cable box, the internet or any streaming device, you’ve got access to near endless instructional content.

10. Find a Buddy

The financial incentive for having a workout partner is that you can do more body weight exercises than you could otherwise do alone, making a gym membership unnecessary. And if you like the gym, a buddy will serve as motivation to suck every last penny out of your $20-plus monthly membership fee.

11. Avoid Fad Diets

The market is flooded with specialized diets that have a great number of products associated with them. These products are made to seem necessary to your fitness success, but, in many cases, their only real function is to lighten your coin purse. Spend your money on healthy food, not fads.

12. Consult Your Doctor

No amount of advice will help you if you’ve got an underlying medical condition. The best way to save money in regard to fitness is to ensure you’re healthy enough to exercise. It’s better to have high grocery bills than hospital bills.

13. Take Care of Your Gear

Cheap or expensive, the best way to save money on fitness apparel and gear is by not having to replace it. Treat your workout stuff kindly and wash as instructed.

14. Buy Gear on Clearance

How much money should you spend on clothing you intend to sweat in? If you live for fashion, by all means, spend as much as you like, but really, why are you reading this? For everyone else, you don’t have to wear rags, of course, but you also don’t have to spend a ton on gym clothes that will wear well. Clearance items are a large part of the fitness apparel market. Every fitness outfitter, particularly those online, have a modest selection of overstock and underselling products just waiting to be purchased for pennies.

15. Make Use of Your Lunch Break

Two birds, one stone. Weather permitting, take a walk during your lunch break. It costs you nothing, and you don’t have to feel bad about not having the energy to exercise when you get home. Bonus: You’ll have more energy to power through your afternoon at the office.

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5 Ways to Break a Sweat Without Breaking the Bank

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Gym memberships are expensive. And with Americans getting in better shape in preparation for the summer, more are joining fitness facilities. But there are plenty of ways to shed pounds and tone your body throughout the course of your everyday life without spending a dime.

1. Stretches to Start

Determining how well your day starts off is entirely up to you. If you ever feel achy or sluggish in the morning, it may have to do with more than just starting off with a healthy breakfast. Stretching your body out when you wake up is known to stimulate, energize and help you avoid injury throughout your daily routine. Setting aside a total of less than a half hour each morning for stretching can make a world of difference in your daily life.

2. Take the Stairs

When you get into your office building lobby in the morning after battling fellow commuters, the last thing you may want is physical activity. But opting for the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator is a great way to burn calories, according to Men’s Fitness. When you take the stairs, you greatly improve your aerobic fitness and running speed thanks to the leg muscle mass you use.

3. Bike When Possible

The average American commutes a half hour to work, sitting in their car, slowly creeping down the highway. But this half hour would be better spent participating in physical activity other than lifting a donut to your mouth and pressing your foot on the gas. Consider that a 185-pound man will burn 335 calories on a half-hour, casual bike ride. Also, if you live in a bigger city like New York or Chicago, you might have better access to bike-sharing programs allowing you to get around with ease.

4. Core Workouts Before Bed

At the end of the day, after you’ve burned all these calories, toning your core will be much easier. So doing a few exercises for your midsection will help you burn through that spare tire in no time.

5. Watch What You Eat

Be careful not to fall into the I-can-eat-anything trap, though. Many people who workout assume they can eat whatever they want and still lose weight. Unfortunately, this is more of a one-step-forward, two-steps-back mentality. So striking a balance between an active lifestyle and a healthy diet are essential to finding happiness with your self image.

Eating well can also help you to save tons of money on food, especially if you’re willing to cook a little. You’ll find that planning ahead is key, as is using some smart shopping techniques.

Following a passive regimen like this one won’t help you gain pounds of muscle mass, but these tips will help you shed pounds, tone your body and flatten your stomach. And most importantly, it will help you pinch pennies while you do it.

Remember, keeping your credit score in top shape is also a huge deal when it comes to saving money over your lifetime. If you’d like to see how you can improve your financial fitness, check out Credit.com’s lifetime cost of debt calculator. You can also check your free credit scores, updated monthly, to see where you can make improvements on your credit report.

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Image: Xavier Arnau

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