With summer just around the corner, we’re all ready to look and feel our best. Your friends might want you to join their $20/session yoga or spin studio, or maybe you’re thinking of hiring a $70/hour trainer or joining a gym for $50/month with a $100 sign-up fee. All of these costs add up, and if you didn’t budget for them, then “getting fit” ends up adding financial stress to your life and possibly driving you deeper into debt.
But don’t let money be an excuse for not looking and feeling your best on the beach this summer. If you change the way you think about fitness, do your research, and stay motivated, you can achieve amazing workout results without spending a dime. Here are some great resources for creating a cost-effective (free!) fitness plan.
Use Online Workout Videos
Truth be told, all you need for an efficient cardio or strength training workout is an Internet connection, a computer/phone, and a little space in your living room. Some of the best trainers like The Biggest Loser’s Jillian Michaels offer free videos online. You can find pretty much any type of workout video on YouTube: Pilates, yoga, high intensity interval training (HIIT), Zumba, cardio kick boxing, and the list goes on and on.
FitnessBlender offers a variety of full-length high-quality workout videos and plans that feature exercises for all different levels. This is a great channel to start with for both the new and experienced in cardio and strength training. POPSUGAR fitness has great options for those who want to try a variety of workouts that focus on specific muscle groups. They also feature different trainers in each video, so you get a good variety of styles and exercises. If you subscribe to cable, you can also often find home fitness videos on demand that you can stream straight to your living room television.
Find a Community
Motivation is a huge factor in sticking to a healthy lifestyle, and it can be difficult to find when you exercise alone. It’s important to find a community that supports you in your fitness goals and encourages you to work hard during your exercises. Using Meetup to find groups that are for fitness-minded folks is a great way to make new fitness friends. You can join them to try different types of free activities like yoga at the park/beach or explore new hiking trails on a weekend day trip. Local running groups often offer free 3 to 5 mile weekly runs and can help you meet running goals or simply make adding cardio to your fitness plan a little bit more social and fun. Also check with your local athletic stores like Road Runner Sports, Fleet Feet Sports, and Nike, because they often sponsor free running groups and special events.
If you’re not interested in making new friends, try using social media to build a fitness community so you don’t feel so alone or isolated. If you’re on Instagram, follow fitness sensation Kayla Itsines or No Excuses Mom Maria Kang for constant reminders to stay active. You can also follow fitness blogs like Greatist that have tips for your workout and ideas for healthy recipes. Running apps like MapMyRun or Nike+ not only record your running progress, but also let you connect with your friends who also run and use the app so you can share, compare, and feel like you’re in it together. If you’re not a runner, try Nike+ Training Club, which provides step-by-step cardio workouts with tips from professional athletes and also has an option to share your workouts with others online, so they know just how hard you’ve been working.
Make a Workout Calendar
One of the most difficult parts of a workout is simply just getting started. For appointments you pay for, like a personal training session or a doctor’s appointment, you always show up because you know it’s been scheduled, and you’re spending good money to be there. To stick to your free fitness plan, you have to make a schedule that encourages you to stay accountable. Some of the most effective and popular workout plans only require 30 minutes a day and 5 days a week of exercise, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding time before or after work or on the weekends to participate in some form of physical activity.
There are plenty of free calendar templates online that you can fill out and stick on your refrigerator or by your desk to remind you of your workout schedule. For many of us, our life and schedule is on our phones, so it might be easier to set up a workout Google calendar to sync with your work calendar so you don’t overbook. Sunrise is also a great app that integrates all your calendars, so your new workouts won’t feel like any extra scheduling work. A daily workout will feel just like another appointment you have to make or just another task that needs to be completed by the end of the day.