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Fitness on a Budget

There is no denying that we all know that being active is good for us. It benefits our sleep, our immune health, our mental well-being and our overall self confidence. But it can also feel like it breaks the bank, and I often hear from clients that they can’t afford fitness. Workout videos on demand, gym memberships, fitness classes, sports leagues: so many options, so many dollars.

The first thing I suggest people do BEFORE exploring affordable fitness options is to look at the actually challenge at hand. Is the issue that you can’t afford fitness or is the issue that you haven’t prioritize your budget to be able to include fitness? Is it worth it to give up daily Starbucks for a gym membership? Is it worth it to give up cable for fitness classes? Is it worth it to give up weekly eat outs for the sake of improved health and wellness? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves while we mull over our monthly budgets to determine if there is any wiggle room to add in a fitness line.

So what if you want to make fitness a priority, but you have little to no room in the wallet for extra dollars to be spent? What do you do? Never fear, realistically there are still LOTS of things you can do to make fitness a part of your weekly routine AND keep the change in the piggy bank. Finding a place to work out, or the people to work out with, doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of cheap or free options available, but you will have to spend time and energy to look into and participate in them. Here are some of my favourite ways to get moving on a budget:

1. YouTube videos. There is a plethora of options here. The hardest part is sifting through it all. Over time you will find out what you like and dislike. In the meantime: use google. “Best free videos for working out at home”. Boom. Options galore. Test them out, log which you like best, ask friends for their favourites and get that butt you have always wanted in the comfort of your living room.

2. Outdoor walks or runs. It is so easy for us to forget about the free gym called ‘nature’. Invest any extra dollars in the proper clothing (used and on sale do exist) and you will have less excuses when the winter chillies or rainy spring days settle in. Plus working out outside has added bonuses including increase calorie expenditure, serious sweating without even knowing it and the added mental benefits of fresh air.

3. At home workouts. It is amazing the things you can do with just a kettle bell, a skipping rope and a pair of running shoes. No elaborate home gym required. Now a days there are plenty of free websites you can follow with daily programming, home workout ideas and training plans. Even with a gym membership I still complete home workouts when I am travelling, working on specific goals and when the schedule just doesn’t allow for an exit the house.

4. Non-profit facilities. Community halls with yoga classes. Your local YMCA. Municipal recreation programs. Here’s the thing: non-profit organizations are not in the business of making big dollars like private fitness corporations are, so you can bet your wallet their prices are likely better matched to your budget. At the very least it is worth a pick-up of your local community brochures to see for your own eyes what a membership would really cost you.

5. Payment plans. You would be surprised at the flexibility of businesses and organizations if you JUST ASK. It may not be publicized but I assure you their are likely a ton of places that would welcome a payment plan option if it meant it got you in their doors getting fit and healthy.

6. Be workout food smart. It all adds up. If you frequent the protein powders, the post workout supplements, the bars and the power drinks, then ya, fitness can be very expensive. So instead of associating all these things with your workout routine, save a buck or two by skipping the convenience in a package and choose real foods instead. Make your own homemade bars and power drinks AND save a TON of money.

7. Hire a coach. I know, I know, this can come at a price. But trust me, a good coach can be worth a membership AND more. A health and/or fitness coach can keep you motivated, educated, on-track and sometimes be better bang for your buck then anything else. They can get your nutrition on track, saving you money in the kitchen, and they can get you working out efficiently at home, outside or at the local Y. And the best part is, a coach works towards self-reliance, therefore you shouldn’t need a coach for the long haul. Even a month can make a huge difference in your progress.

Here’s one other thing to consider: a crappy diet and sedentary lifestyle WILL cost you more down the line. So play with the budget, weigh the pros of spending the money AND be open-minded in how you can get moving. While fitness comes at a price, it’s not one you necessarily have to pay out of your wallet.

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