Keeping Fit on a Budget

sneak peak: keeping fit and working out doesn't have to break the bank - here's how to do it on the cheap

If you want to spend an extortionate amount on being active, you very easily can - the industry is booming and luxury fitness classes/activewear/lifestyles are all the rage. Having recently moved to London, where everything is one million times its normal price, I have realised this is significantly more extreme than I expected when it comes to working out (hello introductory rate of £30 per class). However, that does not mean we need to be slobs! Not that you're a slob. And you can be one if you want! But if you don't want, here are a few good ways to counter the vast expense of the world's new favourite industry.

Sportswear shops often have free fitness classes of some description, generally with the goal of converting attendees into customers (understandably) but that is by no means an obligation. The likes of Nike, Adidas, Asics and other similar runningy brands have their own running clubs, if cardio is what gets your heart racing (ha ha check my puns out), while Lululemon and Sweaty Betty both hold regular or semi-regular classes too. Sadly, it seems that the London ones aren't nearly as regular as the reliable weekly Sweaty Betty (yoga/pilates/HIIT) and the twice-weekly Lulu classes (miss you, #trainhardThursday and #Sundaymorningyoga) at home, but if you keep an eye on their websites and facebook pages, you should be able to pounce on any classes before they get booked up.

Our Parks is a community-driven initiative providing free fitness classes in parks all over the UK. You can book a space for your chosen class via the Our Parks website, and with so many different class types to choose from, you'll be sure to find one you like the sound of. If you're a fitness instructor, you can also register to run a class, which in theory then leads the people who come along to also do your normal paid classes. However, even if it doesn't, you've just got a bunch of people moving who otherwise wouldn't have!

Parkrun is another one for the cardio-ers out there, and also for the non-cardio-ers as it's only 5k. Parkrun is a 5k run every Saturday morning at 9am, or whenever you feel like it thanks to Parkrun Freedom (although you don't have to go every week, just when it suits you). Parkrun is so accessible that even I have started doing it (hence now braving the cardio machines at the gym). Let me tell you, those endorphins are quite something. There are Parkrun events all over the country, and you can find your nearest one here. The community atmosphere is great, and there are encouraging marshals strategically placed along the route to cheer you on. What I like about Parkrun is that after each run, you receive an email with your exact time (I'm talking milliseconds) and how you placed overall, according to your gender, and according to your age group. It's a real motivator to improve your time, and although I knew I was competitive, I didn't realise quite how competitive I would be with myself...

GoodGym doesn't just provide you with post-run endorphins - it also brings other people happiness. With GoodGym, you run with the intention of doing something when you reach the end point - either a community project (planting trees etc.), to see a lonely old person (this one is ideally done pretty regularly), or to help an old person do something they would struggle with on their own (changing lightbulbs etc.). Running somewhere, doing something when you arrive, and then getting yourself back does take longer than a straightforward loop run, however if you have the time, this is a lovely thing worth doing.

Youtube videos are such an underrated resource. There are plenty of Youtube fitness personalities now who have guides and products and various things you can buy, but there are a bazillion times more free workout videos available right now. Currently, Natacha Océane's style of workout video is my preferred, and her science-based fitness experiment videos are really interesting too. During school and uni, I was an avid Blogilates-ite and I still maintain that the workouts both on Youtube and on the free app are really effective, and easily supplemented with a gym routine. Other fitnessy people whose videos or training tips I have found really helpful are Tess Begg and Zanna van Dijk, but all you have to do is search 'at home workout' or whatever mood you're in, and you'll be spoilt for choice - whether you have a couple of dumbbells, or maybe a pretty decent at-home gym setup, or you're on the road and all you've got is limited space and your own bodyweight, there will be something to suit you.

Finally, you can luck out... there's a free gym at my work. I've won the gym lottery. I don't even have to use up any willpower to go because I walk straight past it every single day anyway. If you happen to have any gym-related perks at your job, make the most of them! Even if there isn't a gym in the building, a lot of employers will offer discounts at a local gym, and if you aren't sure then there's no harm in asking. What's the worst that can happen? You ask, they say no sorry, and that's it. You've planted the seed of an idea that it might be a cool thing to do. If you do want to join a gym, it's worth shopping around for a good deal, but it's more important to make sure you'll actually go. It's all very well finding a gym membership that fits perfectly with your allotted budget, but if you don't actually go because it's far away/doesn't have the equipment you want/closes early/whatever, then it's pointless.

And then there's the old classic - going for a run, doing some pressups, a plank and some burpees, and running back. Working out/keeping fit/building muscle/whatever doesn't have to cost a (very toned) arm and a leg. It's definitely something worth prioritising, but hopefully these easy suggestions will help make sure there is some dolla left over for a nice post-workout munch as well!

- post #3 of 21 in the 21-day blog challenge -

Keeping Fit on a Budget, imogen molly blog,


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