I am a lifelong athlete. From soccer in elementary school to playing lacrosse throughout college, I have been a jock my entire life. I ran a half marathon my sophomore year of college. I used to lift weights 3 times a week. I’ve worked out in state of the art gyms and in front of my TV in my living room. From timed miles to yoga classes to water aerobics sessions, I’ve truly experienced a multitude of ways to work out.
So trust me when I tell you a dirty little secret: you don’t need a fancy gym membership to get a great work out in. I currently have no gym membership, and spring is too beautiful a time to be stuck working out inside from a video. There are lots of free ways to get fit.
How am I getting my sweat on for the low low price of totally free?
The Great Outdoors
I live in Austin, Texas and there are generally two seasons here: hot and cold. Spring and fall don’t exist in an extended time frame. So for the few weeks where it’s cool in the mornings and evenings (each November and March/April), everybody gets outside as much as possible. Hiking, biking, running, kayaking, paddle boarding…it’s all happening right now.
I like to get outside for at least an hour every day. I use that as my alone time and as my workout time. Don’t think that not having a gym membership means you’re doomed to simply slow jogging as your only work out option!
Use street curbs as step ups- You’ve seen those work out videos from the 80s and 90s. People are forever stepping up on a platform about 3-6 inches above the ground, and pulling their knees to their chest or something. Know what’s totally free and about 3-6 inches above the ground? A curb!
I love using curbs as a way to do a version of foot fire: I stand in front of the curb and tap it with my left and then right foot, as fast as possible. It’s fantastic cardio and surprisingly difficult to maintain for more than a minute. Work those glutes!
Community Swimming Pool Laps- I’m lucky enough to live about two blocks from a community pool. It’s tiny – there are two lanes for laps and there’s a “free play” area about 10 ft across and 3 ft deep. Those two lanes are a great place to get a workout in.
Swimming is a fantastic total body work out – no muscle is left behind! I walk down there, swim as many laps as I can, and walk home. Free work out accomplished. Find a community pool or a YMCA with free hours near you, and dive in!
The Great Indoors
Maybe you can’t get outside as often as I can. Or maybe you don’t want to. Sunburns are no one’s friend. That’s totally fine! There are indoor work out options that await you, too.
Youtube Yoga- If there’s one thing I love, it’s Youtube yoga videos. There are approximately a million of them at all levels. Set your mat up on your floor and pick whatever video you feel comfortable with! The same goes for things like ab workouts, kick boxing workouts, or pilates.
Body weight workouts- Lifting weights is a great way to burn cardio and of course, build muscle. If you don’t have the fancy gym equipment, using your own body against itself is actually a perfect way to build your body up.
Things like push-ups, squats, lunges, wall-sits, jumping jacks, or any manner of sit up (leg lifts, bikers, planks) all work wonders. Embrace simple and use what your momma gave you to get a great work out!
Look for Discounts
You can also look for discount rates on group workouts and grab some friends to make the workout more fun.
Getting friends together for a run around the neighborhood is a great way to keep yourself motivated and to spend some time together. Making time with friends more active than a bottle of beer on a couch (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) is the perfect way for us busy folks to mix exercising and socializing.
Hiking, biking, walks and runs are all free. If you’ve got some cash to burn, rent a kayak or a canoe together. Skiing or snowboarding are great winter workouts, too.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you need a gym membership or expensive equipment to get a solid workout in. It’s just not true! You can find about a million ways to work out for free or for very cheap.
You’ll get those calories burning, those muscles working, and keep that money sitting safely in your accounts.
How do you work out for free (or cheap)? What are your favorite ways to exercise with friends?