I used to belong to a gym actually. And I went. Regularly. Like 4 times a week. Then after my boyfriend was made redundant on Christmas Day (MERRY CHRISTMAS!) I decided to end my membership since we could really do with that extra £40 a month. It was then that I discovered Yoga with Adriene and became OBSESSED. I’m the least flexible person in the entire world ever, but I still loved the workout (and that it was free and could be done in pjs). However, though being great for stretching and flexibility, yoga didn’t work on my most undeveloped skill: stamina.
In June year, I took the plunge, bought a decent sports bra and went running, something I NEVER thought I’d have the confidence to. I found it preferable to the treadmill for a few reasons:
1. It’s free
2. On the treadmill you can get off whenever you fancy, but when you run somewhere, at the very least you have to run home
3. If you get tired and need to take a breather, you can just stop and pretend you’ve noticed a strikingly beautiful bird or cow or something, rather than are about to pass out.
4. You can turn your music all the way up, because the sound is whipped away outside, whereas in the gym people can heard you cycling away to your musical poison of choice – you don’t want the peer pressure of having to listen to cool music to distract to from your quest of looking like a goddess.
5. If you fancy exercising but aren’t sure you’ll like it, or don’t want it to impact on your budget much, I’ve compiled a list of workouts you can do for free:
Don’t underestimate the physical and mental powers of going for a stroll. Run if you want to, don’t if you don’t. Buy yourself some flowers for being so motivated that you left the house in order to exercise.
You know, with a rope. I have high ceilings, so I can do this in front of the TV. Start with 50 skips and build up from there. If you try to go for 5 minutes on your first go you’ll probably keel over, so don’t do that. Surprisingly good to do whilst watching TV, although probably annoying for others.
Load up the YouTubes, find Yoga With Adriene and have a go. There’re are loads of beginner routines, but let me recommend Yoga For Hangovers or Yoga For when You’re Sick – so relaxing and easy and a great introduction to the practice, both with extra long savasanas (the bit where you lie down at the end).
Just run up and down your own stairs until you think you’re going to collapse. Not only is it great cardio it works muscles in ways that they’re not used to working – you’re essentially doing uphill lunges, which is crazy impressive. Well done, I’m proud
5. Youtube Aerobics
Casey from Blogilates is phenomenal but there are dozens of other options too., including old-school style 80s legwarmers-wearing instructions. Personally I find aerobics instructors a bit too perky (they can’t seriously be that happy, surely?), but if that’s what you like go for it.
6. Squats/ lunges /press-ups/ planks
Any bodyweight exercise. These are great because you can do them anywhere, and don’t need any special equipment. I find I get my best inspiration from Pinterest, although the Instagram-savvy among you will probably have great suggestions for accounts to follow that give tips on these work-outs. Try a 30 day challenge (the plank and squats ones are EVERYWHERE). They’re great because not only do they work; seriously toning you up, but also because some routines can give you a great cardio workout too, and you can get the same results for 10 minutes a day than a 40 minute run. (Downside: you. Will. ACHE.
7. Group games
This one is not for me. I’m not much of a sports player, due to the narrow options we were provided with at school (hockey, netball and rounders. Sheesh). However, if you’re going for a family picnic or heading to the park with your friends, take a Frisbee or a tennis ball. Even throwing a ball for your dog is good exercise (even more so if your dog doesn’t return it so you have to retrieve it)
If you go to the pool this obviously will not be free, but if you have access to a river or the sea, it’s an option. Personally, I would never ever ever ever ever ever swim in ‘wild’ water because I’m a wus and am pretty sure I’d get eaten by sharks immediately or drown. If that’s your thing though. Good for you (stay safe).
9. Offer to babysit a small child
If you have your own small child, use that one. Now I have no experience whatsoever in this area, but if the rumours are true, looking after children is hard, tiring and rewarding. Sounds like a good workout to me. Plus, if it isn’t your child, maybe someone’ll pay you to watch it.
10. Ok, I ran out of ideas so this one may not count, but you can apply to be a mystery shopper at a gym
Cheating, I know, but you can still get a good workout for free. If you live in a city densely populated with gyms, you may be able to take advance of all of their free trials (if they offer them) and never have to pay. It’s also worth bearing in mind that here in the UK doctor can prescribe you exercise and give you a 12-week gym pass. Since exercise can help with so many things – heart problems, weight issues, depression, I think it’s a great scheme, and certainly beats being pumped full of drugs.
So there we go, 10ish ways to exercise on a budget. Yes, you’ll probably need trainers, a sports bra and a yoga mat, but I got all mine for about £80, and you don’t need them all at once. I got a pair of last season Nike Free Runs for £45, a sports bra from Nike for £25
(I think, it was a while ago), and a yoga mat from TK Maxx for a tenner. Sainsbury’s also do good sports wear if you’re on a tight budget. If you have some manky old trainers lying around, use those. They’ll be fine unless you’re planning on running a marathon.