I used to think that if “I only had a gym membership”, I could get into shape. Or if “I only had more time in the day to exercise”. It’s only with time that’s I’ve come to know that the only thing preventing me from good health are MY EXCUSES! There is a way to get fit for everyone on every budget. Get it out of your head that you require a personal trainer, costly equipment or fancy spandex clothes in order to exercise. You really just have to push past the excuses and do it!
Before you begin, make sure you’re in good health by getting a check-up from your doctor. Please note that I include affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!
Starting an Exercise Routine on a Budget
What are your goals and what do you hope to accomplish? You’re unlikely to meet your goals if you don’t first establish what you want.
- Purchase a calendar that you’ll keep in a prominent location where you will note your workout days and log your exercise every day. I keep mine on the fridge for everyone to see.
- Write down your goals and place your goals in a place where you’ll see them and can be reminded of them so you’ll better stay on track. Do you want to lose weight, improve cardivascular health, become more flexible?
- Find a like-minded workout buddy that you can schedule exercise with and meet up at a regular time & place. You’re less likely to fall off the workout wagon if you have someone else counting on you!
1. Hit the Streets
This is most often my exercise of choice, a walk or run through my neighborhood. I am fortunate to live in an area with plenty of good walking courses, some that have challenging up-hill sections. I appreciate that I can put my littlest one in his stroller and we can take a walk nearly any time of day and I don’t have to arrange babysitting for him. My oldest son is interested in improving his long-distance running skills (he’s more of a sprinter) so he’s been joining me for jogs around the neighborhood. It’s nice to have the company and also to have someone encouraging me to get up at 5am for exercise!
Benefits of an outdoor exercise
- It’s free! All you need is a decent pair of shoes.
- Relaxing to get out in to the open air and hit the streets, rather than a treadmill in front of a television
- Entire family can come along, so no babysitting is required
Disadvantages of an outdoor exercise
- Neighborhood may not be safe or comfortable to walk in (no sidewalk, poorly lit or too hilly)
- Inclement weather (too hot, cold or wet)
- Invest in a good pair of walking shoes.
- If your neighborhood isn’t ideal, considering driving a short distant to a nearby park or school that allows guests to walk on their track.
- Be sure not to let the walk become a stroll. You should still be challenging yourself and pushing yourself by extending your walking distance or by speeding up your time.
2. Work Up a Sweat in Your Living Room
I alternate an outdoor walk or jog with an in-home kettle bell workout. The kettle bell cost me less than $20 and I have found a wide variety of workouts online that I can do with it. I add in crunches, planks and push-ups to the routine and come out with a heart racing cardio workout in my living room. Consider streaming a workout video that you can follow on your TV (Zumba anyone?) My mom has the Leslie Sansone: Walk Away The Pounds: 30 Minute Walk DVD. I’ve done this with her and it’s excellent for getting a quick workout in at home, especially if space is limited.
Benefits of exercising in your home
- Minimal cost. Consider picking up a few inexpensive pieces of equipment like a yoga mat, kettle bell, free weights or a resistance band.
- Ideal for those who are intimidated by the gym and would like to perfect their form or routines before taking it out of the house
- Easy to squeeze in the time (early morning before rest of family awakens or during a child’s nap)
Disadvantages to exercising in your home
- Too easy to get distracted (kids, chores, etc) with things that pull you away from or shorten your workout
- Certain spaces might not be conducive to cardio or floor-based exercises (ie: floor too hard, area too small for some cardio routines)
Home Workout Tips
- A padded yoga-type mat can help cushion during some exercises when flooring is inappropriate.
- Resist the urge to exercise in your pajamas! You won’t put forth the effort needed for a decent workout. Slip on a good sports bra and gym clothes and pretend you’re at the gym.
- And so what if you are in your pjs and ready to watch your favorite show? Squeeze in a 5-minute set of crunches and planks during each commercial break!
3. Squeezing in a Quick Ten at Your Desk
We’ve all gotten deep into a project and suddenly 20 minutes at the computer turns into two hours! I have a reminder on my email system at work (you could use an app on your phone as well) to remind you to stand and stretch once every hour. Incorporate some neck, wrist and shoulder stretches to ease tension after long typing sessions.
Benefits of exercising at your desk
- Easy to do in quick bursts of time and energy
- Little to no equipment needed (you can even do it in heels!)
- Beneficial to your health and back to move and stretch several times an hour
Disadvantages to exercising at your desk
- You might feel embarrassed doing squats at your desk, especially if your desk isn’t in a private office! Do what is appropriate and feels comfortable. Ask your boss first for the okay if there is any question about the exercises.
- May not get an elevated heart rate & will need to supplement with cardio
At Your Desk Exercise Tips
A desk exercise probably isn’t going to be strenuous enough to break a sweat, but it’s a great way to supplement your routine and keep limber. Resistance exercises are particular effective and quick to do while sitting.
4. Join the Gym (If the Cost is Right)
My husband has a gym membership and I do not. He was “grandfathered” in to his current rate, a very low $9.99. It makes sense for him as he goes to the gym after work, is able to shower there and go straight to school. If I were to join up, the cost would be about $20 a month (still pretty low) but only cost-effective if you can get there frequently. My schedule wouldn’t allow me to get there often enough so I’ve opted out of the gym membership and choose to exercise at home.
Benefits of a gym membership
- Money invested into it may be a good incentive to go and “get your money worth”
- Personal trainers may be available. This is sometimes given as a one-time sign up initiative that you should absolutely take advantage of.
- Wide variety of exercise classes & equipment that can help prevent boredom
Disadvantages of a gym membership
- Hours open may not be conducive to your schedule
- Cost may be prohibitive (monthly dues plus yearly renewal/initial sign-up fee)
- Babysitting not always available or may be an additional cost
If you are considering joining up at the gym, first figure out roughly how often you’ll be able to go. Total the cost (including the initial sign-up fee) and get an “Average Cost Per Visit” so you’ll know if this is a price you are willing to spend per workout.
5. Work Out…Anywhere & Everywhere!
With the kids – Play with the kids when they play. Put on music and dance along with them. Climb the stairs, slide down the slide, push them on the swing. Anything to get you off the park bench and moving along with them.
In the car – Squeeze and hold your butt muscles tight while waiting at a red light (put the car into park first!)
In the kitchen – Do as many squats or jumps as you can while you wait for the pot of water to boil.
While you wait – Waiting your turn at the doctor or dentist office? Ask the receptionist if she’ll call or text you when you’re next in line. Why sit in the stale office reading old magazines if you can take a brisk walk outside instead?
When kids have extracurricular activities – Instead of sitting on a bench watching them practice, put on your walking shoes and go!
How are you incorporating exercise into your daily routine every day?