10 Tips For Getting Into Shape On A Shoestring Budget

The following is a guest post by Kris Bickell of Weekend Warrior Zone

When I first started working out, I began with a cheap set of weights that I bought at Caldor’s (for those of you a lot younger than me, it was like a Walmart many years ago). They were plastic and were filled with some type of plaster. Basically, they were junk.

But I was on a very limited budget … and they were cheap … but they worked!

These days, I’m not really all that different. I still don’t want to spend a fortune on fancy workout equipment, gadgets, or clothing. And I definitely don’t want to spend a fortune hiring a personal trainer! So I’m constantly looking for low cost ways to get in a good workout.

Hey, if you have the money, and it makes you feel good to spend it on fitness stuff, go for it!

But keep in mind that you DON’T need an expensive workout outfit, you DON’T need the trendy fitness gadgets, and you DON’T even need to hire a professional to get yourself into good shape.

You DON'T need an expensive outfit, trendy gadgets, or a hired professional to get into shape. @WWZone1 Click To Tweet

All you need is a little creativity – and you can develop your own awesome workout program that fits your needs AND fits your budget!

10 Tips For Getting Into Shape On A Shoestring Budget

Need some help figuring out ways to exercise without joining a gym? Here are 10 tips for getting into shape on a shoestring budget:

1) Running (under $100)

Running is a great way to get fit, have fun, and do it without spending much money. If you’re just going to run once in a while, any comfortable sneakers will work. If you love running and decide to run regularly, then you should get yourself a good pair of sneakers. But don’t think you need to spend $125 on the newest models. You can find discounts on older models on most of the popular shoe websites, or in your local sporting good store – and you should be able to find a good pair for about $50-$70. Other than that, all you need is a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and a safe road, trail, or track. And you can get a great cardio workout in less than 30 minutes.

2) Bodyweight workout (free)

When most people think of bodyweight exercises they think of basic pushups and “air” squats. Sorry, but that’s old school. And it gets boring quickly. There are plenty of fun (but challenging) bodyweight exercises that are much more enjoyable, and will make exercise a lot more exciting. Here are just a few examples:

    • divebomber pushups
    • hindu squats
    • dragon walk
    • lunge pulses
    • pike pushups
    • bear squats

And if you ever need a little extra challenge, you can add a weighted vest. You can find these at most sporting goods stores, and on Amazon.com, for less than $50. start by picking 4 or 5 bodyweight exercises, and do 3 sets of each. Don’t be surprised if you end up feeling sore the next day, as you’ll be working a lot of little muscles you don’t often use!

3) Hiking (free)

Taking a hike is a great workout for your body and also provides a great boost to your spirit! @WWZone1 Click To Tweet

Most states have public parks with hiking trails, that are good for all ability levels. If you’re really adventurous, you can try more “technical” trails, which require some knowledge of the proper techniques (so don’t try these until you’re more experienced). But for most people, hiking is a great workout that’s both free and empowering!

4) Playground workout (free)

If you have kids, you know that today’s playgrounds are a lot more hi-tech than when most of us adults were kids. Remember how much fun it was to run around the playground as a kid? Well, it’s just as much fun (if not more fun) as an adult! Just make sure you go at a time when there are not many kids. They probably won’t appreciate the “big kid” (I mean you!) taking over their turf. And be careful not to use any equipment clearly designed for small children, so you don’t get hurt or break the equipment. Playgrounds are great for making up your own obstacle course workout. Climbing & jumping are excellent ways of building muscle, improving endurance, and increasing agility. You can even add in some jumping jacks, burpees, or running in place for a little extra challenge!

5) Drop & give me 20 (free)

If time is an issue, you can do what I call the “drop and give me 20 pushups” workout. It’s real simple – a few times a day, stop whatever you are doing and perform a set of 20 pushups (or 5 or 10 or 50, whatever number you are capable of doing in one set). You can even do this while you’re at work, if you can find a quiet spot (if not, ask your co-workers to join in the fun!) You can do this with any exercise, so don’t just limit yourself to pushups.

6) Resistance bands (under $20)

Here’s another simple way to do resistance training without having to join a gym. You can usually get a resistance band from one of the big box stores (like Sports Authority, Dicks Sporting Goods, or Walmart) or online, for around $8 to $10 each. They’re typically color-coded, with each color offering a different amount of resistance. Get a few bands and you can work your entire body. And you can even do a workout while watching your favorite TV show!

7) Take a fitness class (under $25)

Most gyms let you take a single class for $10-$20 a session, even without a membership. You can do a variety of fun classes like spinning, yoga, pilates, bootcamps – and you can just drop in whenever you want. Of course, if you end up really liking the classes, you may need to join for them to be cost-effective. But for just once or twice a month, they can be a great bargain. And, you might find the same type of courses offered by your local parks & recreation or adult education departments, for less.

8) Running a race (under $50)

Nearly every town offers some type of race at various time throughout the year. These races can be as short as one mile or 5K (3.1 miles), or as long as a half-marathon or marathon. Obstacle races & fun runs are also very popular these days (and a blast to do with friends!) Most of the local races cost well under $50 (many under $25), and the fees usually go to a good local charity. Some are even free if you raise enough money for the charity. Not only is a race a great workout, but it’s also a terrific social event with post-race food & bling, free t-shirts, and some even have bands playing music while you run!

9) Craigslist (varies, but usually under $100)

I’ve built a complete home gym in my basement using Craigslist to buy used exercise equipment. Sadly, many people buy expensive equipment, only use it for a short time period, then want to get rid of it so they can have the space back. The good news for you is that they usually sell it for WAY less than the original price. I’ve found a mountain bike, weight set, workout bench, squat rack – all for dirt cheap!

10) Workout videos (free)

Another great way to add variety to your workout routine is to use workout videos, which you can find for free on YouTube or at your local library. You can develop your own workout routine by searching around YouTube. Or you can get a complete workout video from your library. Either way, you can get some great workout ideas without spending a penny!

Let’s face it – we can all think of plenty of excuses for not working out – work, kids, family, time, motivation. I know, because I’ve used them all at one time or another.

Money definitely doesn't have to be the excuse that holds you back from getting into shape! @WWZone1 Click To Tweet

Each of the tips on the list above can be a workout in itself. Or you can pick & choose a few of them to make a complete workout plan! The only limit is your imagination, so think outside the box for new ways to exercise!

Now, here’s an action item: grab a pen and paper and set up a schedule to work out at least a few times a week. Select a time that works for you. Pick the exercises you like best. And get started today! You don’t need to be rich to get into shape. And you definitely don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun doing it!

Do you have any low-cost fitness tips of your own? Let me know about them in the comments below.

Kris Bickell created WeekendWarriorZone.com to share his love for fitness. You’ll find fun workout tips for “weekend warriors” of all ages. All you need to join in the fun is a desire to work hard & play hard! For a complete bodyweight workout sign up for Kris’ free report: 21 Fun Bodyweight Exercises That Will Get You Into Awesome Shape (That You Can Do Anytime & Anywhere)

10 Tips For Getting Into Shape On A Shoestring Budget
10 Tips For Getting Into Shape On A Shoestring Budget
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  • April J Harris
    April 5, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    There are some great ideas here to help get in shape! I must admit, having a personal trainer which has really helped me to schedule and commit to an exercise and healthy eating routine that has worked for me but when money is tight, there are definitely other ways if you have the willpower! This is an excellent post and I’m so glad you shared it with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.

    • Kris
      April 6, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      April, if a personal trainer works for you then that’s great! Having someone to share their expertise & help you stay motivated is a great investment in your health. Glad you’ve found what works for you!

  • Kris
    April 2, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Melandria, the hardest part is always the first step. So I would recommend scheduling exercise as part of your daily routine, even if it’s just for 15 minutes every other day. For me, if it’s not on my schedule it won’t happen. Good luck!

  • Doran
    April 1, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Great tips! I love hiking. I need to Mel more time to do it.

  • Shannon Peterson
    April 1, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    This is totally true! Some of my best workouts have been the ones where I’m just sweating it out, outside!

    • Kris
      April 2, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Shannon, I know the feeling! When I was younger I used to love going to the gym, now I try to do as many workouts outside as possible, even if it’s just a power walk.

  • Angelle Marix
    April 1, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Ahhh, I love all of these tips !! Thanks so much for sharing. Can’t wait to implement these into my routine!!


  • Tonya
    April 1, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Great tips! I need to get a fitness routine going especially after the last baby!

  • melandria romero
    April 1, 2016 at 7:12 am

    i guess, the will is the only one i need to do this things, i always says i am so busy but honestly i need the will to do it in between my crazy schedules

    • Kris
      April 2, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Melandria, the hardest part is always the first step. So I would recommend scheduling exercise as part of your daily routine, even if it’s just for minutes every other day. For me, if it’s not on my schedule it won’t happen. Good luck!

  • Healing Tomato
    March 31, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    I am a huge fan of workout videos.

  • Mardene Carr
    March 31, 2016 at 9:01 am

    No more excuses! These are all great and doable tips if you want to get healthy and stay healthy

  • Rosey
    March 31, 2016 at 6:24 am

    HIking and workout videos are my two faves from the list. There are so many way s to work out for free!

  • Liz Mays
    March 30, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    I never thought about the playground before. That is a seriously smart thing to do! These are such good tips!

  • oana79
    March 30, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    I was reading a press release the other day which said that people have clothes and training gear worth hundreds and never use them. I think that if you want to lose weight you will find a way to do it, even when you have no budget.xx

    • Kris
      March 30, 2016 at 7:13 pm

      Oana79, so true! When I started running all I had was an old pair of sneakers and sweats. Now I do buy better sneakers, but still don’t spend much on clothing. Although sometimes my wife wishes I did…but I just like being comfortable :).

  • Patrice M Foster
    March 30, 2016 at 9:26 am

    I have just started exercise in my normal daily habit. Just walking for now. I am not cheap but I love a sale and saving money. Thanks for sharing saving low cost fitness exercise ideas.

    • Kris
      March 30, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Patrice, walking is very underrated, and a great way to get in shape without a lot of impact on your body. And it’s been my primary rehab for several back injuries. Good luck!

  • victoria
    March 30, 2016 at 3:20 am

    Such a great tips. I would love to have a mini gym to my house and I can start to my work out.

  • Heather
    March 30, 2016 at 12:23 am

    I agree with you. You don’t need a whole lot of stuff to be affective in your work out. Of course I work out to maintain myself, I don’t need to lose weight at 98 pounds, but a half hour of cardio always does a body good and you don’t need to spend a lot of money on that.

  • Elizabeth O.
    March 30, 2016 at 12:11 am

    There really is no excuse when it comes to getting fit. Especially when the physical activities are free. I love jogging, walking, hiking and sometimes I do exercise routines that I can do at home!

  • Melanie Frost
    March 29, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    That all sounds very scary. Exercise that is. ???? but seriously, I just need some motivation. For me, the most exercise I get is checking the mail and grocery shopping.

    • Kris
      March 30, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Melanie, exercise doesn’t have to be scary, or very serious either. You can start with walking around the block, doing pushups in a quiet spot in your house, or anything that gets you moving. Just try to do a little bit more each week. and next thing you know you might enjoy the routine!

  • Marilyn Lesniak
    March 29, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    I love these tips. There are so many freebies here, I love it. Pinned and shared. Thanks for linking up at #OverTheMoon! I hope you will join me at #ThursdayFavoriteThings!

  • Erin @ Stay At Home Yogi
    March 29, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    We do pay for gym memberships and fitness related supplements even as we are working to get out of debt. We don’t have much else in our budget entertainment wise (no kids activities, date nights, hobbies, etc), so the fitness gets to stay. It gets us out of the house and keeps us healthy. However, I also LOVE me some free workout videos on youtube! I highly recommend Yoga with Adriene, Blogilates, and Fitness Blender. 🙂 So many great free options!

    • Kris
      March 30, 2016 at 9:50 am

      Erin, there’s nothing wrong with paying a little to get healthier even when money is tight. It would be high on my entertainment list too. My wife doesn’t always agree, but that’s a different story 🙂

  • Amy Jones
    March 29, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Great tips, i usually jog and walk everyday i believe it is the cheapest way to stay fit.

  • Sheri Ann Richerson
    March 29, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    These are great tips! I need to get in shape and have some of the equipment mentioned.

  • Heather
    March 29, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    These are great tips, I like my home gym too…should probably use it 🙂

  • Heather @ Simply Save
    March 29, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    These are great tips! Having a dog helps me get on my feet too, as does maintaining my home by mowing the grass! Body weight workouts are probably my favorite tip though because there are so many things you could do!

  • Emma white
    March 29, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    I often go for a walk down the nature trail we have local with the kids, they love it and I get the excersize and its all free 🙂

  • Cat
    March 29, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    My favorite tip is going to a playground. It’s a blast to go run around one as an adult, and you burn a lot of calories without realizing it. There’s one near me where there are street lights at night, and friends and I used to go play there after work when we all worked 2nd shift. We’re all daytimers now, but it was a lot of fun, and whenever Hubs and I find an empty playground, at the very least we’re mighty tempted to play. And sometimes we still do. 😀

    • Kris
      March 29, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      Cat, a lighted playground adds a whole new dimension, I might have to go looking for one of those!

  • Kathy Kenny Ngo
    March 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I love this because I’m kind of a cheapskate as well. This would definitely work out.

  • Robin Masshole Mommy
    March 29, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    All you have to do is go outside and walk. It’s free 🙂

    • Kris
      March 29, 2016 at 5:52 pm

      Robin, yes walking is quick & easy & free. As someone who suffers from back pain, I find it less stressful on my body than the others too.