Affordable At-Home Fitness Options – Forbes Health – Forbes
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Changes to your routine can take a toll on your physical fitness and overall sense of well-being, and the last year-plus has definitely proven disruptive. Even if gyms and studios near you are opening or increasing their class sizes, you may prefer less expensive, at-home ways to get back to your pre-pandemic fitness level. Fortunately, there are lots of affordable—even free—fitness options to work out remotely and affordably.
While studio workout classes or a normal gym routine may be hard to manage right now, there are several budget-friendly ways to get moving and build your own fitness plan at home.
The beauty of working out at home is that you can try a variety of techniques and styles without feeling awkward. Have you ever been curious about Zumba, yoga or pilates, but felt too uncoordinated to join a group? Have you thought about boxing or a boot camp program, but a 60-minute class felt intense or intimidating?
Exercising at home gives you the freedom and flexibility to try new methodologies—often without paying for the classes. Get started by browsing new class styles on YouTube. Hit the pause button and take a quick break or rewind and try that pose again. You can even stop altogether and switch videos if you don’t enjoy that particular instructor.
YouTube-based workouts can help you build confidence and stamina without requiring an investment in a membership or a class pass. And you’ll be better informed when you’re ready to attend classes in person. Just be sure to start with the beginner levels of workout styles that are entirely new to you, paying close attention to proper form to minimize your risk of injury.
If you prefer to work out with others, consider joining live classes via your smartphone or tablet. A variety of local gyms and studios now offer their classes virtually via apps, allowing you to check out classes that may be too far away to attend in person. Try a session offered by that downtown gym without worrying about parking or reconnect with a community from before you moved.
There is a nominal fee for most of these classes, but you can shop around for free trials and new user pricing.
Spice up your home workout on an old stationary bike, treadmill or rowing machine that might be collecting dust in your garage or basement. Apps like Peloton and Zwift allow you to take advantage of virtual running and cycling workouts without name-brand equipment, and the Nike Run Club app provides guided treadmill runs for free. There are a variety of other apps you can try for free or with an introductory offer as well.
But before you hop on your idle fitness equipment, consider giving it a safety check or tune-up, especially if it has moving parts and you haven’t used it in quite some time. You want to be sure all screws are secure and each mechanism operates smoothly before you hit your top speed.
Top-of-the-line gear is rarely a necessity, but a good pair of shoes can help protect your feet, ankles and knees from pain and even injury. Running shoes can easily cost up to $200, but there are several ways to get a deal on new footwear:
An effective “home gym” can be made up of just a few low-cost items. Dumbbells and kettlebells can often be found at used sporting goods stores or on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Discount stores like T.J. Maxx are a great place to pick up a new yoga mat, resistance bands or a jump rope as well.
One of the greatest challenges to maintaining a consistent exercise routine can be finding and keeping the motivation. Whether you’re trying to squeeze in a workout between virtual meetings or after a long day, there are a few cost-conscious resources that may help you get moving.
Compare your progress to that of your friends, or push yourself to keep up with your coworkers. Apps like Fitbit and Strava offer free options that allow you to compete with people you know. Even if you’re socially distant, you can still connect with a workout partner virtually to challenge yourself.
If competition isn’t your style, consider downloading Achievement, an app that allows you to earn cash for activity. Connect your preferred fitness device to gain points for activities you already record like step count, weight and water intake. Perhaps earning an extra $30 to $50 a year may just the prompt you need.
For those who want to get out of the house or connect with others, check out community groups. Facebook, MeetUp and NextDoor allow you to find people in your area who are planning outdoor fitness events like a group hike or trail run.
If you prefer to exercise solo, check out virtual races available online. You won’t have in-person fans cheering you on, but for a nominal fee, you can join a race and compete virtually by uploading your time to the race’s platform. Virtual Run Events and Gone for a Run are two options. You can also search for virtual races that raise money for causes you support.
To reach success, it’s important to make smaller, achievable goals, according to the American Council on Exercise. For example, start with a week-long goal of completing a 45-minute yoga class three times or running 1 mile four times.
While your overall goal of losing 35 pounds may feel daunting, marking and celebrating small wins along the way can help motivate you to keep going. You can also re-evaluate your small goal after the first week to increase the intensity, make it more realistic or adjust it another way that makes sense.
Regular re-evaluation allows for adaptation and prevents setbacks or a bad week from stopping you in your tracks. Once you have a goal in place, put your plan into immediate action with one step you can do right now:
A truly effective workout plan must be financially feasible as well. As you keep affordability top of mind, make sure that any monthly subscriptions are accounted for in your budget so your plan remains sustainable.
As with any goal, plan ahead for roadblocks. Life is likely to throw some obstacles in your path. It’s okay to give yourself permission to drop the ball. Just be sure to plan how you will pick it back up if you do miss a day (or two) of training.
Also, if you decide to test out a new form of exercise on your own at home, it’s even more important to check in with your body—and frequently. If you experience pain or lasting discomfort, take time to rest and recover. Contact your doctor or physical therapist if the pain persists.
Getting in shape is often not sufficient motivation to make lasting behavioral changes. Take time to ponder what you value most about being fit. Do you want to stay flexible to play with your grandchildren? Are you getting in shape for your next big adventure? Tie your short-term fitness goal to a larger life value to increase your likelihood of success. That big-picture focus can make all the difference.
Selecting Running Shoes. American College of Sports Medicine. Accessed 03/10/2021.
A Guide For S.M.A.R.T Goal Setting. American Council on Exercise. Accessed 03/10/2021.
Uetake K, Yang N. Harnessing the small victories: Goal design strategies for a mobile calorie and weight loss tracking application. SSRN. 2017.
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The Forbes Health editorial team is independent and objective. To help support our reporting work, and to continue our ability to provide this content for free to our readers, we receive compensation from the companies that advertise on the Forbes Health site. This compensation comes from two main sources. First, we provide paid placements to…