Ideas for everyday living

How to get fit for less

Is the cost of fitness stopping you from exercising? Here’s how you could do it without exhausting your finances.

Regular exercise has so many benefits for your body and mind. As well as being a fantastic way to stay physically healthy, it also floods your brain with endorphins, which can reduce stress and anxiety.

But as we look for ways to cut costs, gym membership may be high on the list of casualties. Going to the gym could cost around £40 per month, while a single HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or spin class could set you back £20. The good news is that there are ways to stay fit without breaking the bank.

Fitness apps are your friend

“I love using fitness apps, and so many of them are free”

- Anthony Mayat, personal trainer and founder of Breathe Fitness

For a wide range of fitness goals Anthony likes to use the free Nike Training Club, which has hundreds of exercise sessions – from HIIT to yoga to strength training – to do at home. “There are video demonstrations, workouts and tips to specifically target your needs,” he explains.

The WithU app also offers free expert audio-led workouts including walking, guided runs, yoga and Pilates, with options for all abilities and fitness levels.

Start your fitness from scratch

“The NHS Couch to 5K app is the perfect tool for fitness beginners who want to run and provides a daily target, with each day progressing gradually further. All you need is a pair of trainers and a walking or running route.”

Use your own body weight

It might not feel as impressive as deadlifting a personal best, but working out using your body weight can be incredibly effective – and cheap. In fact, research shows these kinds of exercises build muscle, improve aerobic capacity and increase flexibility.

“As long as you have enough space for a mat, you’re good to go,” says Anthony. “Squats, lunges, push-ups and planks give you a good workout.” Anthony suggests watching YouTube videos of these moves from certified professionals, which will show you the correct techniques.

Don’t exercise alone

Another great tip is to find a workout buddy or group. Having someone with similar goals to keep you accountable can make a huge difference in motivating you to exercise – much cheaper than a PT! Why not use a shared calendar to track your workouts, or cheer each other on virtually on running app Strava?

More ways to save

Most councils across the UK provide some form of free fitness, swimming or exercise classes for local residents. Check the website of yours to find out more.

There are thousands of free outdoor gyms across the UK, featuring cardio and resistance equipment such as cross trainers, press machines, static bikes and pull-up bars. 

Some not-for-profit leisure centres, such as Better, offer concessionary membership for people on certain benefits, such as Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or Income Support. Other places may offer free membership, health assessments or classes.

It may be possible to get an NHS-funded gym membership to help treat a range of conditions such as depression – talk to your GP about what’s available. Also, make use of the NHS website, which has lots of handy fitness guides and workouts to help get you going.

Natalie Morris

Natalie is a journalist covering lifestyle, culture, race and identity. She’s also the author of Mixed/Other.

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