It probably won't come as a surprise to many people that the top two New Years' resolutions are to save money and lose weight. Frugal fitness is at the top of most people's lists.
According to the data collection website statista.com, a full 53% of respondents were looking to save money, and 45% were looking to lose weight. The next resolution on the list was a distant third, which means that people are really serious about keeping their money while they're shedding their weight.
Lounging on the couch is free, but it won't get you fit. So let's figure out something that will get you in the shape you want while keeping your financial goals intact. Look at your budget and see how much you can afford to put towards fitness.Frugal fitness hacks include creating an at-home gym, fitness apps, weight loss programs, and even YouTube! Pick the one that makes the most sense for you and get moving!
Create A Low-Cost, At-Home Gym
At first glance, creating your own gym at home might seem to be the most expensive way to get fit. However, upon taking a closer look, you'll see that there are lots of ways to build your home gym without breaking the bank.
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Choose A Space In Your Home
You can't just rush out and buy equipment without planning the space in your house. Is it dedicated just for fitness, or will your gym occupy space in a den or a finished basement? Are you looking for multiple pieces or just one? Know how much space you have so you'll know how much equipment you can get and how large the pieces can be to ensure that they fit.
The Internet Is Your Friend
Lots of websites can help you obtain free or very inexpensive gym equipment because people are looking to get rid of theirs. Some sites to try include Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace or local “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups (both require a Facebook account), Freecycle, and Letgo. You might even find some free equipment or some sellers who are willing to make a trade.
You can also put out a straightforward request on your social media account asking if anyone on your friend's list has the piece you're looking for and is willing to give or sell it to you. Who knows–someone might be bored with their treadmill and ready to give it a new home!
Local Sporting Good Stores
If you're uncomfortable making a purchase online, see if you have a place like Play It Again Sports near you. This is a chain that buys used sports equipment and then sells it in-store to people.
You can also wait for end-of-the-season clearance sales at bigger retail stores like Dick's Sporting Goods or Walmart. Consumer Reports says that January is one of the best times to purchase exercise equipment from a store. This might be the best option if you have your eye on a very specific make or model of a piece of equipment and aren't willing to settle for something else.
Try A Fitness App
There are many low- or no-cost fitness apps available. You can watch them on a phone or tablet, or you can access them on a smart TV. We recently asked our FI Facebook community what their favorite fitness apps are. You can read the whole thread, but here are some of the ones that popped up most frequently.
All of the apps listed above are free to download, but most require in-app purchases if you want to customize workouts, get access to more than just a few workouts, desire personal support, or add diet tips.
Since all vary significantly from one another, utilize the free trial time you get with each and see which one you like best. Then you can invest in the in-app purchases for just one app.
Yoga is a great at-home workout since you only need some free floor space and a mat. If this is something you'd like to try check out MyYogaWorks.
MyYogaWorks has over 1,300 yoga classes with over 40 instructors. So you are sure to find someone who is a good fit. They offer a 14-day free trial and then it's $15 after that. But ChooseFI readers can get three months for only $1 for an even longer trial period. Just use the coupon code CHOOSEFI when you sign up.
Weight Loss Programs
If you're looking to radically change your eating habits as part of your fitness routine, you might want to consider a weight loss program. Four of the most popular ones on the market today are Jenny Craig, Noom, Nutrisystem, and Weight Watchers. We took a closer look at each to see if they were worth the cost. Here are the highlights of each program:
- Noom: Noom markets itself as much more of a lifestyle change than just a diet program. It's personalized and the goal is to help you change your habits so that you're replacing the bad ones with healthy ones and making better food choices. It starts at $59/month, but you can save money if you buy multiple months at once on a recurring plan. Each plan comes with personalized support. Noom reviews.
- Jenny Craig: The most expensive of the four, Jenny Craig can cost you about $750/month. All of your meals on this program are prepackaged, so the cost includes roughly $25/day for food. For an additional fee, you can also get a dedicated personal consultant. Jenny Craig reviews.
- Nutrisystem: Cost starts at $10/day for food, making the cheapest Nutrisystem meal plan $300/month. It goes up from there depending on if you want to incorporate your own preferences into the meals. The cost includes online support, and if you increase your food budget, you also get unlimited support. Nutrisystem reviews.
- Weight Watchers: Now called WW, this program has undergone a total overhaul in recent years. While you can still attend workshops (formerly called “meetings”), a lot of the support is now online. Unlike Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig, you'll be preparing your own meals, which means it can cost less. The program has three pricing plans and will cost you anywhere from about $12/month to about $50/month. The more you spend, the more personal support you get. WW reviews.
Of these four, we think the best bang for your buck is Noom. We like it because it's the best of all weight loss worlds wrapped up into one plan. Heavy on personalized coaching, this program analyzes your goals, compares them to how you currently exercise and eat, and then helps you redesign your habits and life to get healthy and fit.
In terms of pricing, you can find cheaper programs, but you won't find another one with a holistic approach designed for long-term weight loss and fitness. — Check out our full review of Noom here.
Many of our ChooseFI community that posted on the FI fitness thread mentioned above recommended YouTube for free workouts. YouTube is definitely a great place to try out new workouts and decide which ones you really like. Some of the most mentioned YouTube workouts were BodyFit, MadFit, Fitness Blender, and HASFit.
The drawback to YouTube is that you usually don't get the same quantity of workouts for free that you would if you paid. If you decide that you like a particular exercise, you can consider subscribing to a monthly service for just that type of exercise. That way, you're only paying for exercise plans that you want and not a lot of extras. For instance, YogaVibes and MyYogaWorks have great yoga plans–and both offer discounts to the ChooseFI community!
Discounted Gym Memberships
Some health insurance providers also give you a discount on gym memberships. It may not be a lot, but if they do help, it might just keep the cost down enough to make a gym payment fit into your budget. You should contact your insurance carrier directly to see what they provide for your plan.
If you're a senior citizen on Medicare, check out the Silver Sneakers program. It gives you the “perks of gym membership without the cost.” In addition to the free membership, you can also earn $250 towards college savings each month for your grandchildren just by going to the gym at least seven times a month.
The Great Outdoors
The simplest way to get frugally fit is to open your front door and hit the pavement. Start walking and jogging regularly. It costs you nothing but your time. If you want, you can download a free pedometer app on your iPhone or Android to track your steps.
Love to bike? Reconsider your commute and think about biking to work instead of driving. Enjoy weightlifting? Try weightlifting with milk jugs, jars or cans of food from your pantry, or even your small children. Does jumping rope bring you joy? Jump ropes can be found at most dollar stores if you don't have one.
Look around at what you have and make the most of it!
Related: How To Start Biking To Work
It's possible to be in great physical and financial shape at the same time. Leave a comment below and let us know what works for you on your journey to physical fitness and Financial Independence!
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