My 5 Frugal & Effective Fitness Tips

Then following is a guest post from the great Tonya from Budget and the Beach. Enjoy!

In my 40-something years on this planet, there is a lot that I’ve gotten wrong in life, or learned the hard way…sometimes the very hard way.

It took me FORVER to start and stick to a budget (and by all accounts by the time I finally did stick with one a lot of financial damage had been done), I’m still not in a relationship or married (sniff sniff), and I look back on my own personality flaws which I wish I would have corrected sooner.

But one thing I think I’ve done right my entire adult life is staying fit and healthy. Now I’ve been various levels of fit, from the super lean days when I was doing a plyometric program (jump training) for volleyball, to the healthy but “soft” days of my mid-20’s when most of my working out consisted of walking 2.6 miles around a lake in Seattle. But, I’ve always been healthy (knock on wood) and my weight had never fluctuated more than 3-4 pounds either way from 125 since I was 22 years old. My doctor finds that fascinating.

So while you may find a lot of expert advice on the Internet, and have probably stumbled across your fair share of blogs telling you about saving money when it comes to fitness, I’m going to give you MY perspective on how I think you can be healthy and frugal at the same time. These are MY tried and true tips:

1. You (really) do NOT need a gym membership!

It’s mind-boggling how many people waste money on gym memberships. I have friends who belong to the extremely pricey Equinox gym who never go. The average price of that membership is $134/month. The fact that I used to belong to that gym (I paid $110/month) even blows me away…and I actually went quite often! But even still I couldn’t justify the cost, and worked out LESS than I do now. Here is why:

Places like Equinox are geniuses at marketing. They have slick websites and awesome sounding class names like Unleash: The Ride and Stacked! You start visualizing your hot new body and your newfound dedication to spend every night after work at the gym. You might even put the schedule on the fridge and highlight the classes you WILL take.

But then life happens. And you miss a class…then a week goes by…then a month… and the next thing you know a year has gone by and you’ve paid for a membership without ever going.

Here is why I work out MORE without a gym membership: I used to be enticed by certain classes, but when it came time to get in my car I’d lose motivation. I felt pressure to be there at their time. Now that I exercise on my own, I know that I may procrastinate quite a bit, but I almost always follow through. It’s just that getting started part that I have trouble with. Now everything is set up around my schedule and what works best for me. By the way for me that means working out in the morning a couple hours after I’ve eaten breakfast. If I wait until the end of the day my motivation starts tanking.

The only reason I’d ever say to get a gym membership is if it’s dirt cheap and/or you live in an area where weather factors (heat or snow) make it more complicated to work out outside.

There are SO many options now where you can work out for free with running, walking, biking, and a plethora of free fitness apps like Nike Training Club.

2. It’s OK to have a workout buddy, but don’t rely on one.

It seems every fitness magazine likes to give the advice to work out with a buddy to keep you accountable. I found exactly the opposite to be true. If I waited to work out with friends, I’d never be working out, because frankly friends are flaky and have their own “life stuff” they are dealing with. What happens often times is that instead of you pressing on without your friends, you use that as an excuse to not do something yourself.

3. If you are gaining weight while working out, it’s probably not muscle. 

I hate to tell you, but the fact that you are gaining a little weight after you start working out, more than likely has nothing to do with you gaining more muscle.

It’s absolutely true that muscle weighs more than fat, but it takes a long time and really hard work to gain enough muscle to weigh more than fat. More than likely what is happening is if you are just starting out or doing a new activity, you’re generally sore so your body holds on to water because your body is experiencing inflammation. You will lose this weight eventually. But what is probably happening is you are eating more. It could be because you’re hungrier, or that you are using your newfound workout routine as an excuse to eat more.

I’m pretty much at a maintenance point of my weight, but if I wanted to lose weight, it’s much more of a factor to focus on what you’re eating then it is to work out more. It’s 80% eating, 20% working out.

4. Speaking of food, quit buying crap.

One tried and true way to stay fit frugally is to quit buying junk you don’t need. And if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/wife/husband who is buying it for “themselves” but you are the one who ends up eating it, then you need to have a heart to heart…because if they love you (I’m serious) they will support you…and truthfully no one needs the crap. I don’t care how skinny you may look.

5. Scale back on eating out.

I LOVE eating out too, but you are going to consume more calories, and the restaurant will consume more dollars from your wallet. When I go to a restaurant the first thing I hope for is a breadbasket, which is crazy because I never eat bread before a meal at home. I practically eat so much bread at a restaurant I get full just from that. This is why I hardly eat out.

So there are five of my tips. Any you’d like to add? 

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