Are you a runner? A boxer? A swimmer? A gym junkie? Not an exerciser at all? I’ve never been what you would call an enthusiastic exerciser. I’ve bounced around between a few different gyms, martial arts and various team sports over the years. When I wanted to get healthy after the birth of my second child I was on maternity leave and spare money was tight. I had to look for budget friendly exercise options, that were baby friendly and preferably in my local area. Whether you’re an experienced exerciser and want to try something new, or you’re looking to start exercising, I’m sharing five low cost (or free!) ideas to get you moving.
1. These trainers were made for walking.
One of the easiest and best ways to get fit is to walk. For the cost of a pair of trainers (try the One Active range from Big W if you’re on a budget – walking shoes, x-trainers and runners for around $50), you can be pounding the pavement in no time. My town has a 6km walking track through the local Botanic Gardens which I love to use as it’s relatively flat and concreted which makes for easy pram pushing. Many towns offer a similar walking route, or you can explore your neighbourhood and walk around the streets near your house. The aim with any exercise is to get your heart pumping, and to work up a bit of a sweat. You should be puffing, but still able to have a bit of a conversation while you walk. A daily stroll could double as a catch up with a friend, whether they join you or keep you company on the phone. You can Google walking tracks in your capital city if you’re looking for a new track to try out. Here are Sydney’s offerings. If you have a dog it’s even more of a good excuse to get outside. They will thank you too!
2. Get moving 24/7
Gyms open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week have fast become a regular feature in many towns. They’re also usually a cheaper option when it comes to normally pricey gym memberships. I joined one last year, and definitely had reservations prior to my trial. Would I feel safe? Would they have good equipment? Who would I see if I needed help? My gym has staffed hours, and I try to visit in those times if possible, but with duress alarms and lanyards I feel very safe even when a staff member isn’t present. A swipe card permits me to enter at any time, so I am not restricted to training during certain hours which is a definite advantage. There is a good range of equipment to choose from, including cardio machines, weights and even virtual classes. A personal trainer is available on request for assessments or programs, and he’s often in the gym if I have a question. Some of the bigger chains even offer child minding and group exercise classes at certain locations. If you thought that a gym was out of your price range, definitely investigate your local 24 hour gym. You might be in for a pleasant surprise!
3. Getting appy with it.
If you have a smartphone, you essentially have access to a personal trainer in your pocket. There a thousands of free exercise apps, from running to yoga and most things in between. Apps like Couch to 5 Kilometres have grown in popularity lately, and are designed to take you from a person who doesn’t exercise, to one who can run 5 kilometres in 30 minutes, in eight short weeks. You can create your own music playlists to enjoy while you run, and even choose a power song that can play to motivate you when the going gets tough. Many of my friends have had success with these programs, and one has even signed up to run her first half marathon in September!
4. Weighing it up
If you haven’t discovered this gem of a website, please do yourself a favour and have a look. Weigh It Up first came to my attention at the beginning of last year when they launched a mass weight loss challenge across Australia. They put together meal plans, exercise routines and even free e-cookbooks to help you on your way to health. Their fitness section has many great tips to get moving, and even has videos to show you how to complete the exercises properly. It is a fantastic (predominantly) free service, with a supportive community of people on the track to a healthier lifestyle.
5. Dive right in!
Water is relaxing and restorative. What better way to start exercising than to swim? Most council areas have a local pool, and for a small fee you can chase that black line to your heart’s content. Some pools also offer aquarobic classes, and I’ve even heard of Zumba in water recently! If you’re lucky enough to live on the coast, you have access to somewhere free to swim all year round. You can even finish your work out with a walk on the beach. Swimming is a great option for people with mobility issues – it is so gentle on knees, ankles and backs.
It can be really hard to find motivation to exercise in Winter when it’s cold and dark, but hopefully the above ideas might give you an extra kick start. This will be the first post in the Health Unearthed series – I will share delicious healthy recipes and different exercise ideas with you over the coming months.
Next week, I will share some of my favourite exercise clothes to help you look good while you’re working up a sweat.