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, 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, on Credit.com.)
Read more: How to improve your credit score
15 free and cheap ways to get fit
Here are 15 ways to spend little to no money on your fitness endeavors.
1. Join a cheap 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.
Bonus tip: Never sign a gym contract! The last thing you want to do is get stuck paying for a membership you don’t end up using as much as you thought.
So check out cheaper gym options and other ways to save:
- Join your local YMCA
- Look for deals on Groupon, Living Social and Guilt City
- Sign up for trial periods at different gyms to decide which one you like best
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.
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.
Read more: 8 sneaky ways to save on a gym membership
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.
Read more: 8 cheap foods that can help you lose weight
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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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.