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fitness on a budget

How to Reach Your 2020 Fitness Goals Without Breaking the Bank

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Pledging to exercise more (or…ever) is one of the oldest new year’s resolutions in the book. It makes sense: As the holiday season ends and January rolls around, we all want to get in on the “new year, new you” sentiment. The start of a new calendar just feels like the right time to finally make a change and start living the life you want to live, right?

The problem many people run into is that fitness and exercise equipment can often feel unaffordable. Even if you can commit the time and energy to exercise regularly, hefty price tags on big gyms and boutique fitness studios may make it seem impossible to meet your new goal while also sticking to your financial goals. Spending over $100 a month on a gym membership, or taking $35 indoor cycling classes, is not a requirement to get fit and feel good.

Here are a few easy ways to reach your exercise goals without hurting your financial ones.

1. Find a Go-To Fitness App or YouTube Channel

Boutique fitness classes, like indoor cycling and boxing, are great. They also can get really expensive—depending on where you live, some fitness classes can cost upwards of $35. Buying multi-class packs or signing up for a monthly membership is certainly more cost efficient, but you’ll still be dropping a significant amount of money. If that’s beyond your budget, try doing some Googling to find a fitness app or YouTube channel with workout routines that you like and can do at home.

You may be surprised at how many great, easy-to-follow workouts you can find for free or a very low price. My favorite at-home workout app is Kira Stokes Fit. The first month is free, and then it’s only $15 from there for unlimited access to a variety of workout videos led by celebrity trainer Kira Stokes. That’s a fraction of what you’d pay for in-person classes. If you don’t want to stick with one specific trainer, you can find other apps like Nike Training Club and Glo that feature lots of workout options from different fitness pros. (Seriously, if you do a quick Google for “best workout apps,” you’ll find endless options to choose from.)

On YouTube, you can find great free workout videos from a ton of trainers like Jessica Smith and Mike Donavanik and fitness brands like Alo Yoga. Just search for a specific type of workout, and try out whichever ones seem interesting to you.  Many online workouts are also body weight focused, meaning you don’t need any extra equipment.

2. Buy Inexpensive Equipment to Make a Home Gym

Sure, gyms full of weights and exercise machines look impressive. But endless choices are only worth the price tag if you use them (or at least, a lot of them). If you find yourself using the same one or two dumbbells (or kettlebell) over and over again, consider buying your own and doing your favorite workouts at home.

Resistance bands and jump ropes are also inexpensive strength training tools that are easy to store and travel with. Amazon, Target, and Walmart are all great places to find inexpensive equipment to build out your very own small-but-mighty “home gym” for less than the cost of one month’s membership.

Read more: Financial Fitness—Health Advice for Your Wallet

3. Join a Local Running Club

A running club is a great place to find like-minded friends who will help you hold yourself accountable for your cardio workouts. They’re also often inexpensive or free to join—though prices will of course vary depending on location and specific club. The Road Runners Club of America is a great resource to find a running club near you. Your local running store or favorite athletic apparel shop may even host weekly group runs for free, so it’s worth checking in to see what sort of events they offer to the community. 

4. Only Splurge on Workouts You Really Love

The best way to stick to a consistent fitness routine is by finding—and doing—workouts you actually enjoy. So, if you’re serious about this whole exercise thing, figure out what you like and budget around that. While you certainly don’t need to splurge on expensive classes, if there’s one you love and it gets you psyched about sticking to your goals, prioritize it in your budget.  Even if you can only afford to go to your favorite class a few times a month, treating yourself can help you stay consistent and motivated to move in general.

5. Take Advantage of First-Time Student Offers

Does your friend swear by pilates but you have never checked it out? If there’s a specific fitness class you want to try, check the website or pop into the studio to see if they offer a free class for first-time students. Some may even offer a free or heavily discounted first week. This is a great way to get a taste for what the classes are like, so you can decide if they’re worth spending your hard-earned cash on. If you’re not convinced, at least you’re one step closer to figuring out what you do enjoy.

Big sports clubs and gyms also typically offer a free trial period for potential new members—sometimes even a free personal training session. By spending a few days trying out the gym, you can determine if the amenities are worth the price tag and if the location makes it easy to fit into your schedule.

6. Sign up for an Online Fitness Challenge

“Fitness challenges” have become quite popular among fitness brands and personal trainers—think: magazines like SELF and Women’s Health, and social media-famous trainers like Kayla Itsines and Cassey Ho. Some are absolutely free, while others may be available with an inexpensive monthly membership to the trainer’s app or website. 

Search online for fitness challenges, and browse sample exercises to get an idea of whether the exercises and formats interest you. Chances are, you’ll be able to find a ton of great options this time of year. You’re not the only one who has fitness top of mind, so take advantage of the collective excitement and get involved with all the sweaty fun.

Conquer your student debt. Refinance now.

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Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.