Fitness for free
Organised fitness is a great way to get in shape. Whether it’s pushing out the kilometres in a spin class, lifting weights at the gym, or a bit of crossfit with your personal trainer, it’s a super-motivated arrangement guaranteed to give you a good shot at success. The only downside is that while you may feel trim, taut and terrific, your bank account is probably feeling a little traumatised.
But fear not frugal fitness friends, the good news is that there are loads of options to help you get fit for less or even free, with everything from group activities for motivation, to free equipment, to detailed exercise videos you can do at home. There’s even ways to save you time and hassle.
Walk/run/cycle to work
Getting to work under your own steam might just be the best thing for your fitness and your wallet. For starters there’s no cost as long as you’ve got yourself some equipment like running or walking shoes, a bag and/or an entry level bike – a cheap mountain bike will do. Not only that, but while you’re getting a body boost, you’re also saving a fortune on fuel, parking or public transport. And we’re only just warming up. You’ll also save on the mental hassle and frustration of traffic jams or crowded trains and buses. And you’re helping save the environment from exhaust fumes with every step or pedal. Plus you don’t even have to make any more time in your day because you’d just be commuting to or from work anyway. Plus, it’s regular, consistent, invigorating and if you shower at work, you might even save a few dollars on your water costs.
If you’re the type who likes, and by ‘likes’ we mean ‘needs’, the shared drive of a group to get fit, here are some ways to tap into the community spirit for free.
- The Heart Foundation Community Walking Network is Australia’s largest free community-based walking network. This is a brilliant way to take your first steps to increase your physical activity.
- Visit 10,000 Steps to be part of a walking group with a difference. Your steps are tracked virtually and you can tackle all sorts of virtual challenges as an individual or a team.
- Park Run is a global phenomenon for fitness and community spirit. Every Saturday Morning in parks the globe over, people gather at 7.00am for a 5km run. It’s free to register, you print yourself a bar code and away you go. You can run at any participating park and your time is recorded along with lots of useful information such as your best times, where you rank and more. Check out parkrun.com to find out more.
- Swap the pub for the park. If you like to catch up with mates to watch the footy or have a drink, why not catch up for a game of touch footy or soccer in the park instead. Make it a regular thing and suddenly getting fit is fun.
- Join a fundraising team. Have you noticed these days that not a weekend goes by without a fun run, walk or toughly named adventure challenge raising money for charity? Many of these are organised via workplaces or social media groups and chances are you’re never too far from one. Check them out and you might find that the fees are paid for by your work or the group in exchange for fundraising, plus there are often free training sessions. If it’s your sort of event, get on board, raise some money and get training – everybody wins.
If getting fit for you involves a little help or guidance along the way, worry not. There are all sorts of ways to get free support, from instruction to motivation to merely some company.
- The Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service is a free government-funded confidential phone service. You get up to 10 free coaching calls with a qualified health professional for up to six months. No catches. As well as physical activity help, you can get healthy eating advice, plus access to other great tools. Visit the website or call 13 HEALTH (13 432584) to find out more.
- Free apps. Where to start? There are so many apps out there telling you the best way to exercise it can all be a bit overwhelming. We have teamed up with the folks at ESSA to create 30 best practice technique exercises to help guide you to gym perfect form wherever you find yourself with a few spare minutes.
- Free videos. Between YouTube and Vimeo there is no shortage of free videos that cover everything from gentle exercises to get you started, to full 12-month fitness programs, all in exceptional detail. If anything, there may be too many which can make it hard to know what’s right for you. Check out our fitness collections, made up of best practice exercises for a range of goal-based workouts that are completely free of charge.
- Free podcasts. Exercise can be a lonely pursuit and many people turn to music for company and motivation, but there are literally thousands of amazing free podcasts out there that can make your workout fly by. There are exercise specific ones timed to particular workouts, but also podcasts covering everything from science to authors to finance if you want to use the time to exercise your mind as well. And the best bit is, there are loads of new ones every single day. Download a few and give them a try.
The fitness equipment business is a multi-billion dollar industry and whether it’s gym fees or the latest TV home fitness solution, you can quickly burn through some serious cash. But if you’re willing to workout without the latest ab-blasting mega-pump body sculptor you can get all the workout you need for free.
- Bodyweight workouts. Yes, they’ve been around forever, but when it comes to bodyweight exercises, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Chin ups, push ups, dips, lunges, sit ups, they all do the job just fine. In fact, these days there is a lot more variation and knowledge so that you can really fine tune your workout. Throw in some one-off-purchase aids like stretchy bands and you can fit your own personal gym in your pocket.
- Outdoor gyms. In parks all over Queensland, more and more public gym equipment is popping up. Unlike Venice Beach, these are usually based on hydraulic resistance or bodyweight and do the job just fine without the beefcakes showing off, plus you get that fresh Queensland air in your lungs. To find out what’s near you, start with your local council website
- Trails. If running or cycling is your thing, but you’re after a bit more camaraderie and challenge, check out some of the inspiring trails around Queensland. From bush trails for walking and running to quarry trails for mountain bikes to river circuits for road cyclists there’s a whole world of exploration and adventure to put the Rrrr in your routine. Check out some of what we’re talking about on your local council website.
Let’s say the free options here still aren’t floating your fitness boat. That’s okay. We’ve still got a few tricks up our sleeve to help you save money.
- January gym memberships. If the gym is how you get the best out of yourself, wait until January to get your membership. The gyms all go into hyperdrive to capture the ‘new years’ resolution’ market and the increased competition can lead to some great deals. Don’t forget to negotiate and use other gyms’ offers to barter.
- Check with your work. If you work for a mid or large organisation check with the HR manager if there is any fitness activity subsidised. You might be pleasantly surprised. It’s not uncommon for companies to cover some or all the fees for personal training, gym fees, indoor sporting teams, yoga and more. It can’t hurt to ask.
- Check with your health fund. These days most of us have private health insurance and as they get more competitive to lock in members they explore benefits such as discounted gym memberships. Call yours and see what they offer.
- Buy second hand. All that sparkly home gym equipment looks great online or in the catalogue, but whatever you’re thinking of buying, chances are someone else has already laid out the cash… and used it once. If you’re willing to shop around for something ever-so-slightly less sparkly, you could save thousands.