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4 Ways to Get Fit on a Budget Thumbnail

4 Ways to Get Fit on a Budget

Living your best life and implementing health and fitness into your daily routine will leave you feeling energized and prevent future health problems. The only caveat is that gym memberships can be pricey. 

However, like with meal planning, whether you are on a budget or having to get inventive with your spending habits, read on to see all the creative ways you can get fit without breaking the bank. 

The same goal setting disciplines for financial planning applies to getting fit

1. Set Reasonable and Realistic Goals

Unless you have the money to pay for a personal trainer or have the time to exercise for multiple hours a day, remember to be gentle with yourself and celebrate the baby steps you take along your fitness journey. It can be as simple as making the choice to take the stairs instead of the elevator, bringing a home-cooked meal for your lunch, or parking on the far side of the parking lot while shopping. These small steps do add up, and will cost you absolutely nothing. 

Develop a comprehensive list of habits you want to build

2. Decide Your Best Routine

What is going to keep you on track and motivated to workout? Is it finding a gym? Working out from home? Finding a friend to keep you accountable? If getting a gym membership doesn't fit in your budget right now, don't let that deter you from getting in a good workout! 

There are lots of ways free (or inexpensive) ways to get in shape if you can think creatively: 

  • Walking or running: walking or running just 30 minutes a day helps stimulate your brain to think about problems more creatively, keeps the pounds off, and can improve your mood. All you need is a good pair of shoes!
  • Biking: find a local trail, or even try cycling to work a few days a week.
  • Dog walking: if you don't own a dog, find one from a family member or friend that you can borrow! If that isn't possible, you can find a shelter in need of volunteers to walk dogs. You can help your community AND get exercise!
  • Free outdoor gyms at parks: some city parks have built free outdoor gyms to encourage a convenient way for adults to work out. These "adult playgrounds" are usually built with simple but effective fitness equipment, such as rowing machines, leg press, stretching bars, and more.
  • Discount classes: Many gyms, especially newer ones, offer great deals on discount sites like Groupon in an effort to bring in potential members. If you are willing to be flexible on what type of gym you attend, you could try a different gym each month! 

Working out at home will give you extra money to save for your retirement

3. Or ... Workout from Home

If you would prefer to work out in the comfort of your own home, it is easy to create a simple, inexpensive space to get your sweat on. All you truly need for a home gym is space to move around, a computer/television to watch workout videos on, and a set of resistance bands or light weights, especially if you want those workout at home abs. 

For a more complete gym, equipment such as an exercise ball, kettlebells, jump rope, floor mat, and more can be helpful. My favorite is a home workout for biceps using an inexpensive weight set.

  • Check out discount stores and online marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist for budget-friendly places to pick up used fitness equipment.
  • For workout inspiration, your local library can be an untapped resource for free workout DVDs to rent. You can also find an abundance of free workouts online or on sites such as YouTube.
  • There are also hundreds of phone apps that offer free or cheap workout programs, such as 7 Minute Workout, Couch to 5k, Nike+ Run Club and Map My Run.
  • Can't find a workout to do? You can achieve a full workout with nothing more than your very own body. Movements like squats, lunges, push-ups, burpees and jumping jacks offer a cheap and effective way to tone your body.

Shop around for the best gym like you would with finding the right financial planner

4. Shop Around for Gym Memberships

If you decide to join a gym, they can be wonderful places to find motivation and inspiration to live your best life. Here are some tips to help match the right gym for your budget.

  • Choose local over chain: The monthly fees at locally owned gyms are likely to be less expensive than well-known chains, and have all the same basic equipment.
  • Employer perks: check with your HR department to see if your company subsidizes workouts or offers any gym discounts for their employees.
  • Shop for the best deal: Many times, especially around the holidays, gyms will have enticing specials to encourage sales. Take advantage and do your research to see which gym is offering the cheapest rate.
  • Consider the punch card: Ask yourself – how many times a month do you actually go to the gym? If it's hardly at all, you could easily be spending $30+ per visit. Ask your gym if you can buy a class pack or a punch card to save you money compared to a monthly membership.


There is no reason why getting healthy is too expensive to fit into any budget – it simply takes some extra planning and creativity. 

When you find ways to get fit on a budget, you have options to invest your extra cash!

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Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.