10 Ways to Get Fit for Little or No Money

fitnessAre you still making excuses that you can’t go to the gym because it’s too expensive? Or can’t afford a new bike to exercise?

Be afraid, be very afraid, because you’re about to encounter some simple, cost-effective, ideas for you to work out on your own at home or somewhere outside. So no more excuses for not getting into shape!

  1. Running in the Park. Let’s start with the obvious, running outdoors on the grass in a park. Before we had those nice gyms and indoor tracks, we ran outside, everywhere. In fact, a book called Born to Run talks about how humans were designed to run long distances, and run barefoot. So no more excuses that you can only run on a treadmill. Besides, the impact of running on grass is less than on a treadmill or an indoor track. A hard outdoor surface like asphalt is a no-no for your joints.
  2. Pull-Up Bar. For just $30 new on Amazon you can get the Iron Gym — an amazing all-in-one pull-up, chin-up, and dip bar with multiple grip positions. It fits into place above any solid door frame in your house, and it’s removable. It’s quite an amazing device. You can even use it as a push-up bar.
  3. Body-Weight Exercises. Remember gym class? Yes that’s right push-ups, sit-ups, dips on outdoor railings, squats, lunges and more. Now there are so many body weight exercises and variations to combine for a great workout.
  4. Borrow a Yoga or Workout DVD Set. Ever since Tae Bo (and probably before), fitness gurus have been releasing DVD sets for you to work out at home and get in killer shape. Most recently there are DVD sets like PX-90 and Insanity to get your body into excellent shape. You might need some extra pieces of equipment for it, all of which you can find probably find used.   But even these you might borrow from your friend if they aren’t using them any longer. If you want to try yoga DVDs, all you’ll need is a yoga mat or carpeted area, and some blankets for propping up.
  5. Buy a Used Bike. We’re not talking about a high-class road bike or mountain bike here, just something inexpensive to get your heart pumping while riding on the streets of your town. You can also ask a friend if they have an old bike they might sell you or even give you. You may be able to find a bike at The Salvation Army or Goodwill too.
  6. Buy Used Weights from Craig’s List. People are always moving or need extra cash — so Craig’s List is the place to go for used workout equipment. Since we’re focusing on low cost here, you’ll probably be looking only for a set of dumbbells, a small barbell set, or possibly a cheap exercise bike for indoors.
  7. YouTube Exercises & Workouts. With many fitness professionals trying to promote their workout products online, YouTube video marketing is booming in the fitness industry. There are tons of free videos on YouTube giving away basic exercise tips to complete workouts for free, and many of them can be done right in your own home, or even outside in a park. One of the best I found was a 10-minute high intensity cardio workout by Yuri Elkaim (Canada) that could be done in less than 10 square feet of real estate. I thought my lungs were going to jump out of my throat when I was done. Click here for the link.
  8. Resistance Bands. I didn’t know about these until I found a great circuit workout using resistance bands on YouTube by another Canadian workout instructor, Mike Roulston, from Mode Athletics (yes, it’s true – a YouTube workout actually did help get me back into shape). You can buy a set of basic resistance bands at one weight for around $10. However if you are serious about working out with them, it’s better to invest in a full set with multiple weights and tensions like the Terrell Owens resistance bands. You can easily workout your entire body with a set of resistance bands and get a fantastic workout! You can checkout Mike’s resistance bands workout here.
  9. Make Your Own Weights. If you’re really strapped for cash, take some spare plastic bottles and fill them with dirt or sand to make your own weights.
  10. Barter with A Friend Who’s a Personal Trainer or Instructor. If you’ve got a friend who’s a yoga instructor or personal trainer, then you can barter something you’re skilled at to learn those hidden secrets from a master of the art of fitness.

Let’s finish with a recap and some final tips.

  • As always, if you buy your equipment used you can negotiate some great deals, which will more than make up for what you paid in gym fees if you use your equipment, that is. No matter how little or how much you spend on your equipment, if you don’t use it, you’ll never see the results.
  • The key to getting fit in the shortest amount of time is consistency and intensity with your exercise or training. It’s no different than having great money saving habits the more focused and consistent you are with being frugal, the more quickly you’ll save.
  • Make a budget that fits into your personal financial planning routine, and be sure to take advantage of these tips if you can.
  • Let’s not forget how much you can save on doctor bills and medications by simply getting in shape and staying healthy and fit over the long-term.

Now go forth with your new money saving knowledge and get fit on the cheap.

About the Author

David Hamilton (aka FPT Guy) is owner and author of Financial Planning Tips, where you can find sensible information on personal finance for the average guy or gal.

Photo Credit: Amy Selleck


  1. 2


    Pick-up basketball is my favorite low cost option. Although, my joints are getting pretty old and creaky and figure I got about 2 years left in me (at best) before I fall apart completely.

    I play twice a week and hobble around the rest of the week trying to recover.

  2. 3

    Jenna says

    To go along with your YouTube suggestion, iTunes has a lot of great work out ideas you can download podcasts for free, from yoga to running to weight training.

  3. 7


    @Bill – yep they sure are!

    @CNC – BB sounds fun, but requires skill eh? Yeah and tough on the joints, have to be careful.

    @Jenna – good call! The thing I like about Youtube is you get the visual to make sure form is correct too – which is really good for beginners.

    @Adam – great reminder, thanks.

    @MO – indeed I agree. I lived in NYC for 10 years and walking is the status quo.

  4. 11


    I know that using canned foods was a common replacement for making your own weights. They are easy to hold on to, pretty small and work just fine. I second the YouTube idea as well. You can learn so much on YouTube, it’s not just for entertainment.

  5. 14

    Denise says

    Thanks for the inspiration and the advice. Need it. Want to get on the $30 elliptical bought at a garage sale this summer. Saw a guy selling a whole home gym. Also thought of the yoga and stretching shows on public television that I have been meaning to try. Cheers

  6. 19

    David Martin says

    Aside from running in the park, I guess walking a dog or just merely walking with someone else is a good thing also while doing some little talk. We are in a time where we cannot almost do anything without money but it doesn’t mean that because we don’t have money, we cannot get fit and be healthy. There are still many things we could do, we just need discover and find what alternative is best for us.

  7. 22


    Thanks for sharing – I’ve found free yoga videos online too, they can be found easily on Google. There are plenty of ways to exercise for free or little cost. Jogging is probably one of the best for fitness and cheapness too!

  8. 23


    Just yesterday I jogged to a local trail and did a full bodyweight workout on the exercise stations they have along the trail – pushups, pullups, chinups, dips, sprints. I’m feeling it today. Besides the great workout what’s nice is I don’t have to pay any money for it (and I bring my son along too).

  9. 24


    Thanks for such an informative post. As I’m not a gym guy, found this that more interesting and important. I always prefer brisk walking. I also skip 5 rounds a day, each round having 100 skips. It takes me one hour a day but it’s a good time spent as that gives me energy for the entire day. Along with it I also take lemon juice mixed with raw honey in the morning and that helps me a lot too.


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