If you don’t know much about me, here’s a brief introduction. I’m Jordann, Michelle’s staff writer. I blog over at My Alternate Life about personal finance and the plight of millennials. I’m in the process of paying off almost $38,000 in debt, and because of this, I’ve slashed all of my expenses almost to the bone.
This process of slashing expenses is how I came to live in a 400 sq. ft. cottage with my fiance, in the middle of nowhere. We live here because we’re in a quasi house sitting situation, where we pay only $100 for rent plus utilities. Considering we used to live in one of the largest cities in Atlantic Canada, and paid around $1,100 per month for a one bedroom apartment, this is a huge savings.
The savings in rent goes towards my debt repayment, as does most of my other money. I don’t spend money on a gym membership, or yoga classes, or much of anything these days.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to stay healthy though. I love running, and doing yoga, and I don’t want to give those things up. Unfortunately, now that I’m on a tight budget and can’t just skip over to my neighbourhood yoga studio or gym, I’ve had to get creative and find ways to exercise on the cheap with limited square footage.
Become a Road Runner
I ran on the roads when I lived in the city too, but out here in the country, running on the road is the cheapest form of exercise available to me. This is a good option for about 8 months of the year, after that the weather becomes too unruly to maintain a consistent schedule. The rest of the time, I have to find alternatives.
Scope Out Treadmills
The closest gym to me is a 30 minute drive away (I told you, middle of nowhere!) so joining a gym in the winter time isn’t really an option. Even if it was, I doubt I’d want to spend the money. Instead, I’ve found a few treadmills closer to home that I can use. My office has one, left behind by an old employee, I use that during my lunch hour. My fiance’s sister lives right down the road from us, and they also have a workout room. In exchange for sharing my Netflix subscription and the occasional babysitting gig, I use their treadmill a few times a week.
Get Active in Your Living Room
I used to love doing yoga in a studio, there’s nothing quite like it. Unfortunately, studio yoga is expensive, and not really in the cards for me right now. Instead, I’ve started doing yoga in my living room, using the website yogadownload.com. For the cost of two yoga classes, I can have a Premier six month subscription, allowing me to download and stream a variety of classes. I’ve even managed to rope my fiance into practicing with me, so I don’t have to banish him to the bedroom for an hour at a time.
Make a Portable Home Gym
I have a portable home gym in my yoga bag. In it, you’ll find my yoga mat, a foam block, and some weights. You’ll find Jillian Michaels’ 30-day shred DVD in there as well. By keeping everything neat and tidy in this bag, and I can pull it out for a quick circuit workout in my bedroom, without having to have a dedicated space.
Working out in my situation isn’t easy. There have been countless times in the middle of winter when I’ve wished for my own treadmill, or the cash to go to a hot yoga class. There are lots of times when the last thing I’ve wanted to do on my lunch break was use the office treadmill, but I did because I knew I wouldn’t have been able to work out that day otherwise.
Right now, living in a small space, and not spending money on lifestyle inflation is helping me get my debt paid off quickly. Some day I hope to be able to spend more money on exercising, but until that day, I’ll keep looking for ways to exercise with no space and no money.
How do you manage to exercise on the cheap?
I'm not sure what that equates to in metres, but I've lived in a studio apartment when there was barely room to navigate around the bed! Luckily my method of choice is running. I also try to do stretches and crunches a few times a week.
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JW_Umbrella Treasury says
These are great tips! When I was in grad school, I think I did a good job of exercising cheaply. Went running every 5-6 per week (even in the dead of winter when it was icy!). I also started coaching gymnastics, which turned out to be a great workout. By moving equipment and spotting little kids, I developed some serious muscle definition.
Now that we're both working, we spend a bit more on exercise. But I like your suggestion to try yogadownload.com at home. I'm a big fan of barre classes, but I'm sure I'd like yoga, as well.
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Working out is one of those things that I don't skimp on. I happily pay for a mid tier gym membership and use it frequently. If I had to exercise in my apartment, I'd never get anything done. And I don't think I'm built to be a runner.
I don't skimp on fitness, but if I did, one thing I would use more is the Nike Training Club app on my phone. It's a great substitute for a personal trainer or group fitness classes with structured workouts, and it's free!
DC@Young Adult Money says
While I ironically wrote today about getting a gym membership last week (but only $10/month!), I have been able to work out on the cheap the past couple years from taking advantage of the gym at my work. It's really more a "workout room" and it's often crowded, but they have treadmills, ellipticals, weights, etc. and it works great for my lunch hour. I try to go 5x/week during lunch, and it really is a great use of the resources available to me as well as a good use of time.
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I occasionally do workout videos in my living room! I really need some new ones though,
You can use canned food or fill empty milk jugs with water for free weights. During the cold months you could find a tall building and climb the stairs or walk around a mall for cardio. Those last two things are probably not an option for someone who lives in the middle of nowhere. Dancing around your apartment is another option. There's zumba videos you can find on youtube.
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You could also check out your local library for fitness videos. The last one had a large collection of them and they were free 🙂
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The Norwegian Girl says
pretty much the same ways as you do. Good idea of making a portable gym!
I can't say I really excersise on the cheap. I work out at LA Fitness, and my company pays for the membership. I use to work out in my living room, doing Insanity work outs.
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I have gotten lucky. We have an unfnished basement to store things. Over the years I have slowly started to accumulate gym equipment. I started with just a weight set with bench and dumbbell bars from a co-worker. I had to purchase some extra weight but not too much. Over the past Christmas', my wife and I have added a treadmill, power tower and adjustable dumbbells. At this point we are out of room for the stuff but it gives us what we need to keep in shape and will not have to buy any more equipment, nor pay for a membership any where. In the long run saving a lot of money.
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I work out a lot in my own living room/bed room. I have a yoga mat and I just do squats, sit-ups, etc.
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Heights of Love says
I love to use the Nike Training Club app on my iphone (can also be downloaded on the ipod touch). Hardly any equipment is needed for these workouts and they have a good variety. You can even sync your own playlists to run during the workout.
My apartment has on site fitness classes and a gym. I really love the fitness classes. In college, I would go to the gym, workout, and take fitness classes. It was part of my tuition fees so I definitely used it. In high school, during the summer, I had no access to a gym, so to stay in shape for my sports I would run in my neighborhood every day. Just run and run and run. Really don't miss that. Fitness classes are way more entertaining.
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My home gym wasn't cheap in the beginning, but is well worth the money now. I have a treadmill so I can run any time, a bike, a yoga mat with DVD and a game system with fun exercise games. I don't get bored and it keeps me from wasting money at a gym I wouldn't want to go to. I do, however, love getting outside and can't wait for it to stay warm!
These are some good tips. When we lived in Chicago, the Sunday edition of the newspaper printed a workout move every week. I clipped them out, and can now go to the pile and just pull out a few to do while the girls are watching tv.
Another source of yoga could be your local library. Our library has a whole section of workout dvds that you can check out for a week. Nice to get some variety, and free to me if I turn them back in on time.
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I exercise right in my living room with just my body weight and a few hand weights. It works well and I don't have to use a gym. I did p90X with a friend and learned all of the lessons, so I just reuse them in my head and I enjoy it
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Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence says
I swim a lot since we have a lake in front of the house, otherwise my favorite sport is cycling. In the city I would go everywhere with my bicycle, rain or shine, and commute to work with it.
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John @ Fearless Men says
You're right that exercising with no space and money is tough but is possible. Last year I made my own portable home gym through scouring craigslist and asking friends for any equipment they were discarding. I also became a road runner. This one wasn't too hard since my time in the military got me accustomed to that.
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Anne - Unique Gifter says
One of my friends in university did a "milk jug workout" where he would fill milk jugs with water to use as weights. It works quite well, is extremely affordable and even comes with handles. 🙂
I walk and ride a bicycle. In addition in bad weather, I have a home gym with a weight cage, bench and treadmill which I set up for less than $500 about 12 years ago.
Budget & the Beach says
After quitting my gym a year ago I was worried about how I was going to stay as fit, but if there's a will, there's a way. Granted I live in sunny cali, but I run, hike, (used) play beach volleyball, and use the Nike Training Club app at home.
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Wise advice! Exercising at home is the only gym I can't find excuses to avoid, and it's the cheapest one too!
I'm not a treadmill person, but I deeply love my exercise bike!
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I learned tai chi and I exercise either in the house or in the back yard. As for equipment, loose clothes and flat shoes — not expensive at all!
Sally Padilla says
Cant afford any exercise equipment. Live in a crowded small space too. And where I live it isn’t safe to run around here. Not sure what to do unless I want to knock everything over in my room.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Do you have room for pushups, yoga, etc in your home?