Get in Shape for the New Year – Exercise on a Budget!

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About a third of New year’s resolutions center around weight and exercise. It’s a common scene that the gym is packed during January from everyone making their resolutions. Yet with all great intentions, 80% of those that signed up for the gym quit within 5 months.

The gym fail is so common that owners not only expect it but NEED it for business. Gym owners plan for only about 20% of members to actually use their membership routinely.

…and we fall into that trap over and over.

What other businesses actually make assumptions that such a high percentage of patrons will not even use the services?

When I see tips to save money that tell people to review their spending and cancel all recurring expenses they aren’t using I’m always baffled. How are people just giving money away for free?

Granted, maybe those of us reading personal finance/frugal blogs are just slightly more attuned to our spending than average folk….

I digress.

When it comes to health and fitness, the resolution failure statistics say it all. Fitness success isn’t related to how expensive your gym is, what machines it has, or what cute gym outfits you have. It is directly related to your perseverance, the most difficult part people struggle with.

It is unfortunately in our human nature to procrastinate, be lazy, put tasks off, on and on and on.  The hardest part is making the commitment to getting in shape.

The easiest part? Doing so on a budget or even free!
Unless you’re super into body building and need the heavier weight sets, there is no reason you can’t get in shape at home. If you ARE someone into body building, then I’m going to assume you aren’t wasting your membership by not going and this won’t apply.


Ways to Get in Shape for Cheap

Make a designated space for exercise

This doesn’t have to be a huge area, but find somewhere where you have enough room to move comfortably and store a few pieces of small equipment.  You can keep a yoga mat or towel in a corner to designate your workout area and give your body enough room to move.  Once you acquire a few items (bands, weights, exercise ball, etc.) store these neatly with your towel or mat.  I find that when I have a specific area whenever I walk by it is a reminder to exercise.

Personally, I like to exercise at night.  I find it relaxing and calming before I shower and go to bed.  Some people are the opposite and use it to wake up and feel energized. Because of this, I leave my little pile in my bedroom as a reminder before I get ready for bed.

Go outside!

This one seems super obvious to some but also easily forgettable. Sometimes when people make exercise resolutions and they say, “this is finally the year I get in shape!”, they picture sweating profusely at the gym, running races, heavy weight lifting, etc. Walking is so easily dismissed as not enough and not actually doing anything.

This couldn’t be more wrong. Walking is surprisingly effective and has huge benefits. Check out this article on Mayo Clinic.

Weather permitting (since it is currently 1°F in Connecticut) take a walk after dinner.  The cheapest, easiest way to get your heart pumping and immediately feel benefits.

Take a hike, enjoy your neighborhood, enjoy the outdoors.

Use YouTube

You may be shocked to find the treasure trove of work out videos there are for free.  Whether you like to use one routine or switch it up, you can choose from pretty much anything you can think of. Barre, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, kick boxing, and more. Pull it up on your phone or computer and follow along to learn the movements. The great part about this is you can try a new one every day and really benefit from working on different areas.


If you are totally new to working out and feel like you have no idea where to start, it may be helpful to do a few classes with a professional trainer first. Groupon has great deals for packs of all different classes. You can get a pack of 5 or so classes and feel confident learning the movements, how to stretch, and how to cool down.  In yoga, for example, the instructor will be mindful of watching all the attendees to make sure they are doing poses correctly and help show you if not.  If you are repeatedly doing a movement incorrectly, you run the risk of injuring yourself so having someone teach you the correct motions the first few times can be really helpful. Then you can take back your new knowledge to practice at home with videos or just your memory.

I was interested in learning what the barre trend is all about. These are classes based on ballet movements but whenever I looked them up around me they were around $20 EACH CLASS.  That seems insane to me seeing as it uses only a couple pieces of equipment.  Instead, I bought a 5 class pass for $20 to learn what it was about.  I really enjoyed the classes and learned a few key movements and now watch it on YouTube at home.

Choose a few key pieces of equipment

I have always thought it was a bit ridiculous the amount of heavy duty machines gyms have to work a couple different muscles.  For the average person, this is so excessive.  You can get a fantastic workout with your own body weight.  I enjoy following Kayla Itsines, founder of BBG, on Instagram. She is a personal trainer that has blown up in popularity from her BBG routine.  Although the app subscription does cost money (I have not tried it), she regularly posts workout ideas on Instagram and videos on correct poses for free. She is a huge proponent that you don’t need a full gym to get in phenomenal shape.  She often just has two weights and a chair.

In the barre class I took, they used two light 3 pound weights, a ball, and a band. I didn’t feel the need to purchase the ball, but I did enjoy using the bands and bought this pack to keep in my corner. If you purchase two small weights and these bands or a ball you can easily have your mini gym for less than $25.


You can do anything for 10 minutes a day

I heard a speaker recently who spoke about breaking procrastination and how to keep resolutions. His challenge that you can do anything for 10 minutes a day really stuck with me.  While 10 minutes to get in shape doesn’t seem like enough, this is to help get over the mental hurdle of creating a habit. By scheduling yourself to work out for 10 minutes it does a few things:

There are no excuses for not having 10 minutes to spare.  A typical shower is 10 minutes, do you skip that because you’re short on time every day? Let’s hope not. So what is your excuse for not exercising for 10?

Once you start, it’s easier to go longer.  The biggest hurdle is starting. If you got over the mental hurdle of not having an excuse, once you start exercising and have your heart rate up, you’ll find it often flies by and you won’t mind going longer. I have tested this with many things in my life recently, working out, blogging, cleaning and it has worked wonders.  Once you force yourself to concentrate, you’ll be in that mental space and keep going more often than not.

It mentally creates the habit. Even if you stick with 10 minutes every day, you got over that mental fight of making the habit.

What are your budget friendly ways to stay healthy?

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