8 Simple Ways to Work Out on a Budget, Without the Gym
Once upon a time, it used to feel like the only ways you could successfully work out and get truly fit was either by going to the gym or buying expensive workout equipment for a home gym. If you were particularly lucky, you could even afford a personal trainer. After COVID, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt, it’s that none of this is necessary to build the body you want - helpful for some, sure, but not essential.
Workout motivation is hard - if it wasn’t, everyone would be fit, trimmed and healthy - and complex strategies are a fast way to giving up if you’re a beginner. Here are eight easy ways to work out:
1. Keep it simple
Many experts recommend simplicity as the best way to get fit, especially for beginners. A “simple” squat, given that you have the right form, is a compound exercise meaning it works multiple muscle groups simultaneously for that boosted effect. Lunges, deadlifts and planks are all worth exploring and a circuit of these simple exercises is a great place to start. Some of the most popular fitness activities at the moment are skipping and hula hooping, and all they take is a single, repeated movement and nothing to memorise.
Or just go for a run, that’s as simple as it gets.
2. Use what you have
The foundation for all of these tips, and the best way to keep to a budget, is to get the most out of what you’ve got. That’s not to say you should be bench pressing your coffee table, but instead, dig out that long-forgotten exercise equipment instead of buying even more (seriously, we all have it). Ask around, you may be able to borrow larger equipment from friends and family who no longer use it - just be prepared for them to say “but I was going to start using it again next week”.
3. Bodyweight exercises
On the theme of using what you already have, do you know the great thing about bodyweight exercises? You already have everything you need: your body. There’s often no need for dumbbells, kettle bells and barbells, especially if you want to save money as they can get expensive, especially as you move up through the weights. Instead, research bodyweight exercises. That being said, if you’re using bodyweight exercises as a way to shy away from strength training with weights because you don’t want to build visible muscle, don’t worry. It takes a lot of discipline and frequent practice to ever reach that stage.
4. YouTube is your best friend
YouTube is, arguably, the most comprehensive selection of fitness videos and personal trainers, all for free. The amount of choice can be a little overwhelming, so it’s good to narrow it down to what you really want to try. There’s a whole community of yoga instructors, if that’s something you enjoy, or you can research HIIT workouts for a quick burst of exercise. You can even search based on what muscle or body part you want to focus on. Amazon Prime also has a selection of workout videos - perfect for those who enjoyed workout DVDs in their day.
5. Make small changes to your lifestyle
This might just be the simplest way to work out, and perfect for people to get fit without actually working out for those who either hate it or don’t have time. Change your routine. Walk instead of getting in the car. Go to the shop instead of buying online. Watch TV standing up. Use the stairs instead of the lift. These simple switches may not seem like much, but you should never underestimate how good walking is for your overall health and fitness.
6. Get gaming
If you’re a gamer, this one is for you. Obviously, if you don’t own a console or VR headset already, this isn’t a good budget option at all, but if you do, now’s your time to make the most of it. The fitness gaming world has come a long way from Wii Fit, and there are a lot of games that will get you up on your feet and moving, and they’re genuinely fun so you don’t feel like there’s something else you’d rather be doing. The games generally considered the best at getting you sweating are Beat Saber (VR), Ring Fit Adventure (Switch), Fitness Boxing (Switch), Just Dance and Zumba (both cross-platform). Pro tip: add wrist weights for extra resistance.
7. Buy cheap home exercise equipment
Exercise equipment is expensive, but not all of it. You can get some great stuff like skipping ropes, resistance bands, weights and yoga mats for less than £10 on Amazon. It may be more of a home gym corner than that shiny home gym you dreamed of, but it’s a great place to start. Keep your equipment visible, constantly reminding you to get up and do it, even when you don’t exactly feel like it.
8. Download free fitness apps
There’s a good chance you’re on your phone right now, so you realise how easy it is to head to the app store and check out what’s available. Yes, a lot require you to pay a premium to access the better content, but often the free content is pretty decent too. Check out Couch to 5K, Nike Training Club and FitOn.
Remember, exercising can be anything that gets your blood pumping and body sweating. If there’s a tennis court in your park, get serving. If you’re lucky enough to have a trampolining park nearby, get jumping. If you live in a beautiful, scenic area, get walking. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
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