How to exercise for free. Well, almost.

Exercising outdoors won’t cost a small fortune. In fact, it won’t cost anything at all.







The other day, I bought a whole lot of ski gear and found myself standing in the store, looking at my receipt and crying softly.

“I should have picked a cheaper sport,” I said to the gentleman next to me, wiping my tears.

“No such thing, mate,” he said. “Every sport you’ve got to pay money for. Sport is a luxury.”

Now. I understand that exercise and sport are not necessarily high up on people’s lists of essentials along with, say, housing and food and electricity bills.

And for those who are on a budget, exercise can cost money that just isn’t viable. Some gyms can be reasonably priced, but the great majority have fees that add up to over a thousand dollars per year. Even if you don’t belong to a gym and you’re just doing classes – that’s still $10 or $15 a pop, minimum.

Take into account the exercise gear you need, the yoga mats and dance shoes and boxing gloves you need to buy, and you can soon be blowing a fair proportion of a month’s pay on exercise. And for many, that’s a luxury that simply can’t be afforded. Not when there’s rent to be paid and something other than baked beans to be eaten for dinner.

But I’m here to provide you with some ideas of how to exercise on the cheap – and still get a decent workout.

1) Be smart about your clothes

Exercise clothes are where most of my money is blown. I can’t walk past a Lorna Jane without seeing and purchasing some kind of neon sports crop that will just match my running shoes so perfectly. I know, I am a marketer’s dream.

Wearing Bonds gear on my morning run. Oh, and my old school socks…

It’s my belief that with exercise clothes, you do get what you pay for – the pricey stuff will last longer and be of better quality in general.

But that said, if you’re just starting out or don’t want to fork out the big bucks – the cheaper stuff will do you just fine.

Bonds is really reasonably priced (especially if you live near a Trade Secret), so is the Michelle Bridges range at Big W. Old t-shirts and pairs of tights also work really well.

The only things you actually need to spend money on? A decent pair of runners (get them fitted by someone who knows what they’re on about) and a great sports bra so that you don’t cause any damage .

2) Workout DVDs are where it’s at

I love a workout DVD. Love. I’m a religious user of Zumba and I also love Brazil Butt Lift – sounds a bit odd, and it’s run by a rather strange Brazilian man named – appropriately – Leandro, but it is a killer workout and I now have leg muscles to rival that of Arnie’s. Kind of. (Check out this post for other recommended exercise DVDs.)

While you might have to fork out anywhere from $30 to $100 for exercise DVDs, they can be really cost-effective if you use them often enough. You might also be able to scope out a cheap DVD on eBay or Gumtree (but beware of dud copies).

Alternatively, if you have a friend that is similarly fitness-oriented, you can go in on DVDs together and then do them together in your lounge room or garage. A fitness buddy and a cheapo way of exercising in one. Easy.

3) You don’t necessarily need a gym

Gyms are fabulous and work really well for some people. But maybe you just can’t afford one right now. And guess what? That’s no biggie. You just have to be smart about it:


– Go running outside instead of on the treadmill. If you can’t run, walk. The park is free. If it’s cold, put a jumper on. If it’s dark and you’re scared, find a buddy or drag your partner out with you, or run in a well-lit area. If it’s rainy, perhaps skip it but be sure to go the next day.

The Pocket Yoga app is a great one.

– While you’re running, take advantage of the natural features – eg park benches to do dips, sidewalks to do squats. When you get home – jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, butt kickers, wall sits, lunges, high knees, burpees, mountain crunches, bicycles and supermans are all exercises that require absolutely nothing but a floor and/or a wall.

– Want to do yoga? Download a $2 app (you can find some great apps here). Want to do a dance class? There are endless Youtube videos out there – get searching. It won’t be the same as a group fitness class but it’s close enough.

– Feel like mixing it up? Buy a skipping rope. $5 later and you have a great workout. Alternatively – ocean swimming and roller-blading are both free once you’ve decked yourself with all necessary gear.


4) Get your DIY on 

I know DIY is a dirty word for some… but there are so many clever ideas out there that it would be a waste not to try some. For example – make weights out of water bottles instead of forking out the money for real weights. Make energy drinks with this recipe instead of buying Powerade. Join Pinterest and go nuts.

Are you on a budget? How do you exercise on a budget? 


The Athlete’s Foot want you to get out of the house and get involved in the 2013 running season. For the next fourteen weeks, you can Tweet or Instagram a picture/post/video of yourself pounding the pavement with the hashtag #IDIDIT for your chance to win a free fitting and pair of running shoes from The Athlete’s Foot. Oh, and don’t forget to tag @theathletesfootaustralia. Visit the website for more details. Happy running!