We all want to feel fit – and the benefits of daily exercise are well-known.
And for many, going to the gym or fitness studio is as much a social call as a workout – it boosts our self-esteem, improves our wellbeing and happiness, reduces stress levels, and it’s a great way to make new friends.
On the flip side, gym memberships come at a price and when you’re having to cut back in a cost-of-living crisis, little luxuries tend to fall by the wayside.
So how can you workout for less?
As budgets get squeezed and a frugal few months lie ahead, fitness expert Laura Williams offers the following advice to help boost your motivation, morale and bank balance…
1. Figure out your fitness non-negotiables
“Can’t ditch your fave fitness wear? Addicted to open water swimming? Then don’t compromise,” says Williams. “Find the best offers going, hold out for refer-a-friend deals and consider those off-peak promos.”
When it comes to gym wear, she says to check out recycling schemes – brands such as Sweaty Betty, lululemon and Fabletics offer good trade-in schemes for those pre-loved pieces.
2. Justify that gym membership
When it’s all about the outgoings, that gym membership needs to stand up to scrutiny.
Williams says to ask yourself the following questions: Could you get the same facilities elsewhere for less? How often are you going? Do you have the option to freeze membership? What keeps you there other than facilities?
“Is it social, does it help you feel connected? Is it conveniently located? Great staff? Suitable opening times?” she questions.
3. Consider community fitness
“There’s a lot on offer outside of the standard gym,” notes Williams. “Leisure centres are constantly upgrading their offerings – you’ll find a gem of a class in a community centre you never knew existed, for a fraction of the price.
She continues: “Discover the ultimate feelgood fitness by getting out and about in your local area to see what’s available. It may seem like hard work, but it will end up opening all sorts of exercise doors.”
4. Revive your relationship with home fitness
“Post-2020, having exhausted every online exercise opportunity going, we were ready to head back to the gym floor,” she recalls.
“But in 2022, there’s a case for both [online and in-person fitness]. Fitness equipment is back to a reasonable price; we enjoy a good climate for running, and outdoor gyms are popping up in parks all over the country, all the time.
“So there’s a real case for going it alone – and occasionally splashing out on your favourite group session.”
5. Partner up
As Williams points out: “Double the resolve may mean the difference between failure and success.”
“Having an accountability buddy, a sweat sidekick can help you stick to a routine outside of a formal exercise environment.”
She suggests a FaceTime for Yoga with Adriene, a running partner to meet on a regular route, or a WhatsApp group to exchange goals and progress can all work wonders to help keep your fitness alive and on track.
“You’ll be surprised at the momentum you’ll build in a small amount of time, and the sense of achievement that comes not only from sticking to the plan – but from helping others stick to the plan isn’t to be underestimated,” adds Williams.
Plus, if you meet a buddy at the gym, you’re more likely not to skip it, and get more for your money for that membership.
6. Become an incidental exerciser
Now the commute’s back on the menu, she says it’s time to maximise that travel time.
“Practise interval-walking to the station, alternate very brisk walking/moderate-pace. Start slow, with 15 seconds on/15 seconds of recovery, gradually increasing the time of your faster intervals,” she advises.
Along with walking up every escalator and staircase, Williams says to perform seated crunches.
“Sit with back resting in chair; lift thighs off seat before lowering them to the floor; calf raises (tiptoes then lower); squats (you know them) throughout the day.
“Along with any other moves you can do at a desk, microwave or on a train.”