Get fit, not broke

Fitness doesn’t have to cost a lot.  Here are some tips to get fit from free to not-very-expensive.

If you are ready to get your body into shape, but your resources are slim, you’re not alone. Many people think it takes money to get into shape and enjoy living. Not so. While there are ways to spend money getting fit, you can do it yourself on much less money than you might think.

Not all gyms are created equal

If you lack the willpower to exercise at home, you might not have a choice but to go to a gym. As with most things, it pays to shop around.  Some gyms offer specials.  Some have different plans.  Some offer savings for longer term commitments. Take the time to find out what’s in your area.

Some discount fitness centers, such as Fitness19, offer the same services as more expensive gyms, at a fraction of the cost. This is a good example of checking out the options. You can pay for one month or sign up for a year; guess which costs less. Many of these places also have no binding contracts. That means you can stop when you want without a penalty.

Despite the cost, going to a gym definitely has its benefits. For one, you get access to a variety of equipment. You can choose free weights, bikes, floor exercises, or you can join structured classes. They usually have personal trainers on site. It also gets you out of the house and into an environment where everyone is working hard to achieve the same goals.  That’s the power of motivation, and it tends to encourage a higher level of performance.

Working out at home

If you are not interested in going to a gym, or you want to really save money, you can work out at home. If you don’t have a treadmill or weight bench, there are many low-cost options.

Fitness- it's not about the money you spend.Some of the best exercises use body weight, rather than equipment:

  • Sit-ups
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Stretches
  • Push-ups
  • Jumping jacks
  • Skipping rope
  • Running up stairs
  • Walking and running

For most of these, it pays to have good footwear. Otherwise, there is no equipment needed. No, you don’t need yoga pants.  No, you don’t need a wrist band.  Just wear something you are comfortable moving in.

There are also inexpensive kits to add a bit of variety, such as over the doorway bars to use for chin-ups. That’s my favorite, although I tend to do push-ups most (every morning).

You can pick up a fit ball. Or a bike.  Or a pair of skates. Or go swimming. And free weights and a bench will set you back only two or three hundred dollars.  But wait!  Who needs to buy free weights?  These days, you just need to pick up a couple jugs of laundry soap and start waving your arms.

Even just spending more time on your feet and less time couch-potatoing it will make a big difference.

Diet and exercise go hand in hand

Working out is important, but fitness is about so many other things.  In particular, there are three pillars to fitness:

  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Rest

Sadly, I am reasonably good at only two of these.

Not long ago, I wrote about how to eat healthy on a budget. What you eat and how you exercise go hand in hand.

  • In general, if you wish to build muscle, eat protein after working out.
  • If you want energy to push your body further, eat carbs a few hours before working out.
  • If you want to lose weight, eat small amounts frequently, and go easy on the carbs.

Fitness is free

Do whatever exercise you can.  Do what it takes to stay motivated, even if that means spending money at the gym.  But if you have no money to spend on fitness, I don’t want to hear that excuse.  It costs nothing to do pushups.  It costs nothing to speed walk or run.  It costs nothing to lift laundry detergent or dictionaries or chairs. Or your favorite crush (with permission, of course).

So get some sleep, eat healthy and work out.  Not in that order, please.

* Duffle bag poster courtesy of Dimepiece LA


  1. Thanks for sharing this great article! Fitness has not only temporary benefits but also teaches valuable lessons like discipline etc.

  2. Hi David,
    I really do believe that the basics of a fit lifestyle have to be free and am quite happy that movements in this directory are getting more popular.
    Groups from calisthenics or freeletics are bringing more and more people out of the gym and into the sun for their training 🙂

  3. Thanks for the great article, i really appreciate you’re tips. It’s like you said: “Do whatever exercise you can. Do what it takes to stay motivated, even if that means spending money at the gym.” That’s the key to success!

  4. Hi David,
    Thanks for sharing this post.
    its really helpfull
    keep it up
    Stay Fit and Healthy

  5. David, truly enjoyed this article! I agree, working out does not need to be expensive or lavish, just need to get the heart rate up and keep moving. Way too much focus these days on expensive workouts and gyms.

  6. Great reminder that you don’t need a fancy gym to keep in shape!
    For me, pickleball is another great (and relatively inexpensive) way to keep active. It is becoming more and more popular and many city parks are converting idle tennis courts (as tennis declines) into new pickleball court. So really with just a simple wooden paddle and ball it’s a great to keep active.

  7. So true. I downloaded a fitness app to my iPhone and now I work out at home instead of going to the gym. I’m really into paddle boarding which is a great workout in itself so I save my money on gym fees, work out at home and then hit the ocean on my paddle board at weekends, or after work during the week if I have time. So much more enjoyable than pounding a treadmill!

  8. Researchers found that the best exercise is just a short walk after a meal, doesn’t require a gym or expensive equipment. It reduces the blood sugar spike that comes with meals.

    That said our whole family are members of a gym and go twice a week for a swim.

  9. Good article David! I’ve recently realized that the gym is the way to go for me so i can stay motivated and do a whole workout. I think the diet thing is a big problem i have as well, gotta work on it!

  10. Working out at home is just a great option when it’s cold outside.. and you want to save some money. I also enjoy some jogging and bike riding when the weather is good.

  11. Just joined my local sports club which was very reasonably priced but it doesn’t stop my balancing that with doing fitness at home! Some great advice!

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