In a world where decent running shoes can cost upwards of $100 and yoga classes can easily be $20 a pop, it’s easy to feel like staying fit must be a luxury reserved for the rich.
Thankfully there are other options for those of us who just can’t get our zen on when it feel like our money is being flushed down the drain…Here are some of my favorite free or cheap ways to be fit:
Yoga can cost over $100/ month for a membership at a yoga studio. If you have the money in your budget and find a studio you really love, then by all means do what makes you happy! But know that there are other ways…
1.) Doing yoga in the comfort of your own home can be a great way to start your day and a lot more relaxing than battling rush hour traffic first thing in the morning. Yoga dvds are great, but you can also find free yoga downloads at www.yogadownload.com for a wide variety of yoga styles. Myfreeyoga.comhas even longer yoga videos you can watch for free. For an experienced yogi or yogini, Dave
Farmar does some challenging Power Yoga Podcasts that you can listen to for free. I
wouldn’t recommend them to beginners because it is difficult to do the poses without seeing them unless you know the names.
*When we get a new computer (please, IRS, send us our amended refund already!), I hope to share a yoga video of my own, but for now those sites should keep you busy!*
2.) For those who feel the yoga experience is best enjoyed socially, or those who need just need to get out of the house, there are options for you, too! First of all, if you haven’t already, sign up for daily deal sites such as Groupon and Living Social. I recently bought a package of 20 yoga classes from a local studio for $20- originally $240 (gasp!)- from Living Social but I see similar packages on both sites.
Another good way to save cash while checking out different studios is to take advantage of the newcomer specials many studios offer. Core Power Yoga, which is a chain with studios in several states, allows new clients a free week of yoga, no strings attached. Many other studios will offer deals such as your first month unlimited for $30. Some studios offer reduced priced or even donation only classes certain days of the week.
Ditch the car:
Walking, biking and even taking public transport to your destination are all ways to add more physical activity to your day with spending money- in fact, you will certainly see savings in the gas money you would have spent!
1.) Biking: I have to admit I was afraid to start biking in Portland for a long time. Being forced to share a car between my husband and I forced me to give it a shot. I’m still getting used to it- my neighborhood is hilly! But it is getting easier and more enjoyable. I save about $5.50 in gas every time I ride my bike to work. It seemed like it was more timing consuming to bike at first, but I only have to leave about 15 minutes earlier than I would if I drove, and since my total transit time is about an hour round trip, I can count that hour long bike ride as my daily workout and cross that off my list! I also feel it energizes my to do this first thing in the morning and sets me on the right track.
2.) Walking: Are there places you could be walking to instead of driving? I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance of a beautiful park where I can go to read or draw, a post office, a library, a grocery store, and a whole array of shops, restaurants, and bars tucked into a cute little “neighborhood” nearby. Today I walked to the library (30 minutes round trip), and then to a beading shop and a consignment shop (60 minutes round trip). It sounds like a lot of walking, but I decided to consider it my cardio for the day, did a pilates video, and my workout quota was met! I traded in some old clothes at the consignment shop and got this pretty new workout top without having to pay anything!
3.) Public Transit: To be honest, this is the form of transportation I use least. It’s often faster, cheaper, and a better workout just to ride my bike. I do enjoy taking the bus downtown though, mainly because then I don’t have to deal with parking! If your destination is farther, public transportation is a great way to get a little more walking in, save money, and reduce pollution. Just be sure to bring a book!
I used to hate running. Some days I still do… But one of the things I love about running is that it can be done almost anywhere! All you need is a good pair of running shoes (or not- barefoot running is becoming quite popular!) and a bit of space outdoors and you can get a great cardio workout. During the winter, I prefer to run indoors, but as long as it is nice out I much prefer to run outdoors. The fresh air and scenery can’t be beat and gives me a boost when I feel tired! Plus, I can run outside for 30 minutes when I’m pressed for time, whereas a trip to the gym would end up taking almost an hour with transit time.
For awhile I resisted signing up for races because of the cost, but I have found they actually give you so much in free samples, food, and booze (still puzzles me) that it is worth it for me to do every now and then. Plus races are a lot of fun and great for motivation! Some races will charge less for the participation fee if you do not get a t-shirt.
The tried and true… I can remember my mom working out to Buns of Steel with Greg Smithey when I was growing up. The headbands, the colorful leotards… this was the golden age of corny workout videos! Still, having a few “go-to” DVDs can be very helpful in sneaking in a workout when you are running late, don’t feel like going out, or want to try a new type of workout in the privacy of your own home. They only cost about $10-$20 and can be used over and over. I have a pilates DVD that features 5 different pilates workouts, so I don’t get bored and stay challenged.
The most important thing about staying fit is doing things that you enjoy! If you want to spend a few bucks on a class or gym membership that really motivates you, go for it! But if you think cutting fitness costs out of your budget will hurt your routine, give one of these suggestions a try!