When I set out to run my first 5K at the age of 50, I determined to do so without spending a bunch of cash. Here’s how I did it, and here’s how you, too, can get fit without breaking the bank.
Pick a low-cost fitness activity. I chose running, mostly because (with the exception of good shoes and a good sports bra) there isn’t much expense. I run in my grubby old shorts and a t-shirt. I can run in my neighborhood or in one of the beautiful parks nearby. I didn’t have to join the gym to do it, although I did. Running may not be your thing, but choose something fun that doesn’t cost a lot in equipment or gym fees or membership dues.
If you need equipment, invest wisely. I paid a good bit for shoes, but they were worth every penny! Use your money wisely: when you can, buy equipment used. Put the majority of your money where it makes the most difference. Consider it an investment in your health, and then on days when you just don’t feel like working out remind yourself that you are squandering that investment!
Don’t pay full price for the gym. Here in Florida, the summer (all nine months of it!) is miserable for working out in the outdoors. I joined a gym so that I could keep fit in the hot summer months with no excuses and so that I could lift weights to up my fitness. Look for discounted memberships through your employer or your health plan. Keep an eye out for “We’re waiving the upfront fee!” deals. Look for a no-frills gym that meets your needs. My gym doesn’t offer child care to keep the cost low, which is great for me since I’ve got no little urchins to mind. Shop carefully and choose wisely.
Buddy up. Work out with friends. A group from my work plays tennis together twice a week. “We’re awful at tennis, but we all have fun,” according to one of the participants. A buddy helps you save money in that you are much more inclined to actually use the equipment in which you’ve invested, visit the gym you’re paying (a discounted rate) for, and stick with your plan.
Use free or really cheap resources. I successfully ran my first 5K using the “Couch to 5K” plan from coolrunning.com. This is free and printable online. I did spend $1.50 on a smartphone app that uses the Couch to 5K system, and it was a wise purchase. Find a wealth of free resources online and do your brainwork to help your body work.
Add more fun. Chase some kids around the park. Play Frisbee with your dog. Hike and swim when you go on vacation. Do charity events where your fitness is rewarded with fun and the satisfaction of helping a good cause. As your fitness improves, you’ve got more options for having fun!