5 Ways to Get Fit This Summer Without Breaking the Bank

Looking swole. Your bank account, that is.

Fitness trends come and go. The latest one? Spending way too much on gym memberships, or so it seems.

But you don’t need to shell out a lot of cash to get fit. Here are five expert-recommended tips to keep your body healthy—and your finances, too.

1. Free Fitness Classes

Skip the terry robes and personal-size shampoo bottles of boutique fitness classes. Instead, consider something like a free yoga session in the park.

“Most people don’t realize how many free fitness classes are available in town,” said Lynn Miller, the editor at San Antonio Things to Do.

From yoga to running clubs, there are plenty of options for fitness enthusiasts—it just requires a little bit of legwork (no pun intended) to find them.

“I encourage people on a budget to do their research and take advantage,” Miller said.

2. At-Home Workouts

It’s easy to think that the only way to get fit is to pony up the money for a gym membership. But the national boom in fitness centers is a recent thing, and it’s still possible to get in shape the old-fashioned way.

Alex and Brittany Robles—the two doctors behind the fitness blog The White Coat Trainer—suggested putting together an at-home exercise regimen.

“Following a program is extremely important as so many people don’t know where to start, how to exercise correctly, and how to progress over time,” they said.

Of course, proper equipment helps. The Robles’s recommended purchasing resistance bands, an ab wheel, and a pull-up bar for their seven-exercise routine:

  1. A Vertical Push: Such as the pike pushup. These exercises train the major muscles of the shoulder and triceps.

  2. A Horizontal Pull: Such as body rows, or banded rows (using a closed loop resistance band). These exercises train all of the major back muscles, the biceps, and the posterior shoulders.

  3. A Vertical Pull: Such as the pull-up and all of its variations. These exercises emphasize the lat muscles and the biceps.

  4. A Horizontal Push: Such as the pushup and all of its variations. These exercises train the chest, triceps, and anterior shoulders.

  5. A Knee Dominant Squat: Such as squats and lunges. These exercises train all four muscles of the quads as well as the glutes.

  6. A Hip Dominant Exercise: Such as single leg Romanian deadlifts and lying glute bridges. These exercises train the powerful hamstrings and glute muscles.

  7. A Core Exercise: Such as the Ab wheel rollout and hanging leg raises.

While the routine is ready out of the box, the Robles’s stressed the importance of customizing it to meet personal needs and fitness levels.

“Find a variation of each of these exercises that fits your experience level,” they said. “Design a program that uses three of these exercises per workout session, and train four days a week. This should give you enough exercise slots to train each major muscle group twice a week.”

Once an exercise routine is set, the next step is to find a functional space. Many people prefer to create a dedicated at-home area to work out in. This saves time and the hassle of cleaning up a spot for every workout. A few possibilities include a garage, backyard, balcony, or spare room.

3. Extra Help

Exercising is hard, but there’s no need to go it alone. The availability of free workout resources now means that anyone with a smartphone or tablet can follow the advice and custom routines of a pro.

Traci Mitchell, coach and author of “The Belly Burn Plan,” said that’s exactly what her clients prefer to do.

“Turn to YouTube or IGTV,” she said, adding that “[f]itness pros are incredibly generous with showing off their workouts.”

Both mediums allow access to a variety of workout routines, from yoga to high-intensity interval training, with a professional. All without spending a dime.

4. Motivation in an App

Fitting in the time to exercise requires dedication, but without an accountability buddy, many people fall off of a consistent fitness plan. That’s where fitness apps can pick up the slack.

Sydney Eaton is the head of fitness and wellness programs at one such option, PK Coin, which offers giftcards to Lululemon, Southwest, and others to incentivize users.

“Beyond the rewards, PK Coin is so motivating because the app is all based on your effort as you work out,” she said. “Your effort is completely personalized to you and based on your biometrics such as height, weight, age, etc. The harder you work out, the faster you earn coins; and, those coins can then be used to purchase rewards in our shop.”

PK Coin also allows users to keep their friends and families on track, but all on their own pace. The app generates a leaderboard in addition to personalized groups to track progress.

“It’s easy to set up competitions with one another and encourage one another to work out so I find that even when I’m feeling lazy it constantly draws me back in and provides that accountability I need to stay on track,” Eaton said.

5. Movement is Exercise

Maybe it’s time we redefine what it means to be physically fit. Let’s throw away the image of fitness that is tied to a vision of gym rats dripping sweat and nursing their protein powder shakes.

Author and personal trainer Amanda Sterczyk posed a few important questions on this topic:

“What does it mean to exercise?” she said. “Do you need to be able to power lift a heavy barbell? Or can it simply be that you’re strong enough to independently complete your activities of daily living? And how does that independence relate to physical activity?”

The way we look at exercise often reflects an unrealistic ideal. Why is it that exercise methods are only given validity when done in a gym or when wearing workout apparel. This entirely overlooks a broad range of movement, like playing with kids or a walk outside, that keeps many people active.

“For example, if you do your own housework, you’re already doing physical activity,” Sterczyk said. “That counts as exercise in my book.”

Sterczyk broke down how common household activities, like cleaning, count as fitness.

  • Vacuuming: You’re pushing, pulling, and lifting. If you have a two-story house, you carry the beastly machine up and down the stairs. It’s all added weight that you’re moving around, along with your own body weight. That’s a form of strength training.

  • Dusting or washing windows: You stretch and reach away from your centre of gravity. You pull your muscles into an elongated position and either hold them there or move in this stretched-out position. That, my friend, qualifies as dynamic balance and flexibility training.

  • Washing the floor: You vigorously wash away stains and get your heart pumping. There’s even a bead of sweat on your brow. You just completed cardiovascular training—aka, vigorous physical activity.

“So embrace your chores—they help you increase your activity level, keeping your muscles and bones strong. For free. And even if you have help with your housework, you can still be physically active in your home,” she said.

Bottom Line

Staying healthy and physically fit doesn’t have to be expensive. Gym memberships and personal trainers may be a good motivator to get to the gym, but they’re not an economical option. With a little self-guidance and a whole lot of ingenuity, this summer can be the jumpstart needed to get in shape—all while saving money.

Contributors

Sydney Eaton is the head of programs and fitness at PK Fitness Apps. Her number one priority is inspiring people to not only reach their fitness goals but to enjoy the journey along the way. In her free time, you’ll find her in line at Disneyland to ride Thunder Mountain for the 5,912th time, sipping an Americano while enjoying her latest read, or outside soaking in the beautiful SoCal sunshine!
Lynn Miller is an editor at SanAntonioThingstoDo.com, which focuses on free and cheap family fun in San Antonio, food, travel, and the awesomeness of the Alamo City.
Traci D. Mitchell is a Chicago-based fitness and nutrition author and speaker. Her book, “The Belly Burn Plan,” is based around a six-week program that focuses on weight loss through hormonal balancing and equipment-free workouts. She has a private practice of clients from around the world and can be found at her website.
Alex Robles, MD, and Brittany Robles, MD, are OBGYN residents in NYC and the founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and wellness of busy individuals. They believe that anyone can improve their fitness by integrating a few simple strategies into their lifestyle.
Amanda Sterczyk is an author, certified personal trainer, and creator of The Move More Institute™, an initiative to promote healthy active living by adding more movement/activity/motion to individuals’ daily lives. Her first book, “Move More, Your Life Depends On It: Practical Tips to Add More Movement to Your Day,” is available for sale on Amazon. Sterczyk specializes in helping retired older adults and sedentary office workers maintain strength, flexibility, and mobility. Her slogan is: Move more, feel better. She is based in Ottawa, Canada.

How do you stay healthy and fit while on a budget? Tell us your secrets on Twitter at @OppUniversity.