Staying Fit on a Budget

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I haven’t always been an active person. I always lived too far from a gym, or didn’t enjoy sports, or was too busy, along with a million other excuses. I wasn’t active when I was younger, but I was great at coming up with reasons not to be.

By freshman year of college, however, I decided to make a change. I joined the gym at school and tried out dozens of different group fitness classes until I found the ones I liked, and stuck to them. Personally, I get incredibly bored when I work out alone on machines. Group classes motivate me to try my best, and I like having an instructor to tell me what to do so I can just concentrate on my form.

That’s enough about my fitness journey – time for the tips. I can’t hand you motivation on a platter, but hopefully this will help keep you on track!

1. Try to join a gym with multiple locations and all-inclusive classes.

The best bang for your buck is a gym with classes, since a lot of machine exercises can be replicated without them (like running outside instead of on a treadmill). All you have to do is show up, and the teacher guides you through the steps or practice. I belong to Crunch, which has locations all over the city so I can go almost anytime, anywhere. I mostly attend yoga classes, and have found some seriously excellent instructors. At $92/month it seems pricey, but for how often I go it comes out to less than $6 per yoga class. Most gyms offer one-day passes for you to try them out, so you can afford to be picky!

2. There’s no need to invest in really expensive clothing.

This can be hard to remember when you’re drowning in a sea of pretty pastel Lululemon tanks, but it’s actually fairly easy to find cute gear at places like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and even thrift stores. I tend to spend the most on pants and bottoms because you want those to hold up for a while, but a $9 J. Crew tank typically does the trick just as much as a $100 Nike tank. Same with sneakers – Famous Footwear and other discount shoe stores carry past-season workout sneakers for decent prices.

3. If gyms aren’t an option, do some research and discover videos that work.

When I was at home over school breaks, I didn’t belong to a gym. I knew I had to keep up my routine, though, so I bought a yoga block, yoga mat, body bar and some light weights. This “equipment” barely took up any room, and I lived on free Pilates, yoga and body bar videos. Here are a few of my favorites:

Body Bar routine

Pop Pilates ab routine

Yoga Journal sequences

4. Bring snacks and hydration from home.

If you’re a gym-goer, then you know how it feels to be hungry before and/or after your workout – no one likes to be stranded without food. It’s easy to be lazy and assume you’ll buy something at the gym, but those bananas and Vitamin Water can add up fast. I stick non-perishable snacks in my gym bag like raw nuts, and I keep an empty Britta water bottle with me so I can fill up at the gym fountains. It’s not so hard to stay away from the smoothie bar when A) everything costs at least $8 and B) I have my own stuff with me.

Good luck!