8 Ideas to get fit on the cheap

A few years ago, I realized I was spending a good chunk of my income on fitness. Between my gym membership, regular classes at the hippest yoga studio in town, running a few races per month, and the stylish clothes I “needed” to participate in these activities, it was getting out of hand. So I reined in my spending and learned an important lesson in the process: you can get and stay fit without breaking the bank. Here’s how: 1. Invest in the basics. Buy a couple of pairs of handheld weights, a jump rope and a fitness ball. These affordable equipment staples may cost you less than your gym membership this month. 2. But don’t buy what you won’t use. If you’re not into weight-lifting, it’s probably not a good idea to buy a kettle bell set. Likewise, don’t join the state-of-the-art health club with all the perks if you just plan on using the elliptical trainers. Only spend your hard earned money on products you’ll use. 3. Find affordable alternatives. As much as I enjoy practicing yoga in a studio, it was not ideal for my budget. I was taking three classes per week, at $16 a pop. This added up to $200 per month! Now I follow yoga DVDs instead. I buy them when they’re on sale, swap DVDs with friends and order them through my Netflix membership. This approach saves me so much money that I’m able to practice in the studio from time to time without feeling guilty about the cost. 4. Hit the great outdoors. Walking and running are some of the cheapest forms of activity. Just invest in a good pair of athletic shoes, find a safe route and you’re set. Nature lovers, take a trip to a national park and spend the day hiking and taking in the scenery. You’ll only need to spend a few dollars to use the trails. 5. Channel your inner child. What activities did you enjoy as a kid? Basketball, tennis, inline skating? Most of these sports require minimal equipment. It’s not too late — or too expensive — to take up these activities again. 6. Join a group. Running and cycling clubs and intramural kickball and softball leagues are a fun way to get fit and be social. Through these groups, your practice sessions, games and/ or routes will be planned for you. Most of these organizations just require a small seasonal membership fee. 7. Use online resources. Thanks to fitness websites, blogs and videos, great workouts and training plans are literally right at your fingertips. Many of these resources are free of charge. 8. Think long-term. Buying a piece of fitness equipment may seem like a high expense. However, look at it as a long-term investment in your health. Quality equipment lasts years and you can get an affordable treadmill for less than a one-year membership at most gyms. How do you save money on fitness? My favorite workout is a 4-mile run around my neighborhood followed by jumping jacks and push-ups. I work up a sweat without spending a dime! Sources: