Leslie’s Frugal Guide to Working Out

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Leslie's First 5K

Ready for my guide to getting in shape for just pennies? Here we go:

1. Don’t buy anything
2. Take a walk outside; jog the last five minutes
3. Repeat tomorrow

How’s that for easy!

Okay, maybe I oversimplified. But, not really. You don’t need anything to start working out. You just need to go outside and do it!

Making Excuses

I made a million excuses before I started running. I was afraid of looking silly because I would be running so slow and walking most of the time. It was always too hot or too cold out. I didn’t have the right running clothes or shoes. I never had the time. I couldn’t afford it. Excuse after excuse.

What finally motivated me was moving to an apartment that was right across the street from a free (for students) indoor track that opened at 6:30a. This meant that the weather, money, insecurity and time excuses were all ruled out.

So I got up at 6:30a, walked over to the indoor track, walked/jogged along with other walkers/slow joggers for 20 minutes while listening to my mp3 player (before iPods were around) then went on with my day. I didn’t buy anything. No new shoes, no new clothes, no gym membership; Nothing.

Start A Routine, Then Invest in It

After a month of this routine, I decided that it fit into my life well and I was starting to enjoy it. At this point, I began to put some money into it. Do not make any purchases until you are sure you can stick with the routine.

Rather than buying some overpriced sports bras, I just went to Goodwill and bought a few t-shirts for $2/each (that was eight years ago and I still wear them running today). Sure, they weren’t wicking material but I was not engaging in two hour workouts where I needed that anyway. Any sports bras, running pants or socks I bought were all on sale at Target.

Once I could run/walk three miles, I decided to purchase real running shoes. I had just been using casual sneakers up until then. Again, I did not rush out and blow $100 on running shoes until I knew that I wanted to keep running.

To be honest, I never wanted to be a runner, I just wanted to get some exercise without spending any money. Running was the only way for me to do that and it still is today.

Spending Money as Motivation? Puh-lease!

I know some of you out there use shopping as your motivation for working out. Trust me, buying new work-out clothes will not get you any closer to exercise than Taco Bell will.

At the end of the day, you will still be sitting in front of the television telling yourself that you should be outside running but instead you are emptying shopping bags of fancy sports-bras, expensive shoes and wrist weights. You can buy all of that stuff later!

Cheap Alternatives

Here are some tips I take advantage of to keep exercise as inexpensive as possible:

Have any other cheap work-out ideas? I’d love to hear them!


10 Comments

  1. eemusings says:

    I’m not a workout kinda girl, but I don’t mind running. At the moment I’m just running in casual sneakers like you were…maybe one day I’ll get some real running shoes, but I’m only going out once a week. How often do you go running?

    The one thing that might derail me is winter, but that’s still a while away. I guess I could look into exercising indoors instead.

  2. Derek says:

    I would also advise to start small. Too many people go out, shoot for the stars, overwhelm themselves, and then quit. Start with a repeatable and reasonable workout and increment it when you feel comfortable. Similar to as you did, I started with a walk/run rather than just running. I would walk a few minutes then run a few minutes. Every couple of weeks I would reduce the walk time until I was running full time.

    I never thought of using Netflix for workout tapes but I have used Youtube to figure out new body weight exercises.

  3. leslie says:

    @eemusings: I run 2-3 times per week, depending on my schedule. It’s definitely more difficult to find motivation in the winter time, but I still get outside and do it.

    @Derek: I definitely agree with you. I should have added “don’t read anything” to my list as well. It’s easy in the beginning of a routine to get discouraged by reading articles about running or weight lifting that are geared toward hardcore runners/lifters and make 1 or 2 mile runs seem pointless.

  4. giber says:

    great article! I like the advice: “Just go out there & do it”

  5. theresa says:

    Work exercise into your daily routine, which is often also money-saving — bicycle commute, gardening, walking to the grocery store and carrying the (reusable) bags back home full of groceries.

  6. […] mentioned in my Guide to Working out that using Netflix’s Instant Watch fitness programs is a cheap alternative to purchasing […]

  7. […] mentioned in my Guide to Working Out that I run because it is cheap. Like anything, there are […]

  8. […] previously mentioned, I do not pay for a gym membership. I do not enjoy running most of the time but at least I am not paying for it. On gorgeous days, I […]

  9. […] been working out much).  All you need from there is a tee shirt and some sort of shorts.  Leslie’s approach to running was similar to mine – start with what you have.  It is one of those hobbies with […]

  10. I use Smart Coach on runnersworld.com. It’s another free training program, and it’s individualized based on your recent race time, the event you’re training for, your current weekly mileage, etc.

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