5 free and cheap ways to exercise at home

ByRichard C. Sloan

Jan 25, 2022
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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Live on the cheap.

You promised yourself to get in shape, lose weight or build muscle, but a gym membership is not for you. Maybe those expensive monthly fees won’t fit in your budget, or you hate people staring at you when you sweat through a strenuous hour on the treadmill. Or maybe your personal schedule is so packed that the only way to have time to exercise is to work out at home. (We see you working moms!)

You don’t need a personal trainer or a Peloton bike to get in shape at home. There are plenty of free and inexpensive options available for fitness enthusiasts, whether you’re pumped up, ripped and fit, or just starting on the path to better health.

Exercise videos

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The aerobics videos of yesteryear have turned into YouTube channels, featuring fitness instructors and influencers leading free HIITs, yoga and online toning classes. All you need is a laptop or tablet and some affordable equipment, like a yoga mat, exercise ball, or step.

Try PopSugar Fitness, Yoga With Adriene, Blogilates, and Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home for some of the best YouTube workouts. If you don’t like standard aerobics or strength training, look for more appealing options, such as dance cardio (like Zumba) or kickboxing.

Your cable TV or streaming subscription may also offer free exercise channels or cardio workout videos. Check out the on-demand offers for fitness channels. Amazon Prime members can find home exercise videos included in their Prime Video bundles.

Are the online fitness classes you want to take behind a paywall? Look for seven-day or one-month free trials. You can try it before you buy to make sure your investment is solid, or try a new home workout every month.

Workout apps

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Another great option for working out without a gym is to use a workout app. Whether you need a daily dose of yoga or training for your first 5K, free fitness apps can help you get and stay fit.

The best free workout apps fall into several categories. For runners, Nike Run Club gets top marks for its guided runs and training plans, all completely free. Players may want to check out the Zombies, Run! app, which encourages you to keep running to defeat (or escape) the fictional undead.

Yoga apps, like Down Dog and Yoga for Beginners, come in free or paid subscription models, but will help you mix up your morning sun salutations. For those in a hurry, a series of seven-minute workout apps gives you no excuse to skip your daily exercise habit. Fitness enthusiasts on a budget should seek out the no-equipment workout apps, so you don’t need to invest in free weights, bosu balls, steps, or other gear just to get in shape at all. the House.

Even the trendy but expensive company Peloton has an app that offers free fitness instruction from Peloton coaches and teachers. You can do these free workouts with your off-brand home gym equipment – ​​or just a yoga mat!

Want to measure your success? Use a free fitness tracker app to track your progress and stay honest about how many minutes you spend exercising each day.

home gym

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If you have the space — or are a bit imaginative — you can create a workout space at home for less than an annual gym membership.

The key is to find inexpensive home gym equipment. Browse local online shopping sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or community websites for people selling discounted used cardio machines and weight benches. (I bought a used elliptical from NextDoor for $75.) Just make sure you have a way to haul the heavy, bulky equipment to your house. Post to your local Buy Nothing group that you’re looking for, and maybe someone has an old treadmill gathering dust that they’ll give you for free if you haul it around.

But you don’t need a giant cardio machine to get in shape at home. The best inexpensive exercise equipment will be small, such as free weights, yoga mats, balls, and resistance band sets. Place a pull-up bar in a doorway and voila! – instant workout at home.

Workouts without equipment

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You can stay fit at home for free when you get creative with no-equipment workouts. Start with the obvious body resistance exercises: sit-ups, push-ups, planks, squats, and lunges. All you need is some floor space and yourself. For cardio, try jumping jacks, burpees, or running up and down stairs in your home or building.

If you want tips for a balanced exercise program, look for no-equipment workout routines posted online on health and fitness websites.

You can also improvise fitness equipment from common household objects. Use soup cans or empty jugs filled with water instead of free weights for your bicep curls, and swing heavy detergent bottles instead of kettlebells. Use leftover paper plates from a picnic to slide boards or slots. Strap on a backpack full of books to increase resistance and set up a folding chair as a makeshift weight bench for exercises like triceps dips or step-ups.

Outdoor activities

dog walker
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When you want to exercise without a gym, just go outside. There is no charge to train in your backyard or your neighborhood park. The main cost to you will be a good pair of sneakers.

Functioning, walking and hiking are all inexpensive outdoor activities that will boost your heart rate and build muscle. Walk with a family member or neighbor, or join a local group for accountability and social motivation.

Jump ropes cost just a few dollars and are great cardio and agility exercises. Kick a soccer ball or play football with your kids to get your heart rate up. Do you remember that nearby playground with the outdoor fitness garden? Take the opportunity to practice your chin-ups and crunches while enjoying the good weather and the outdoor landscapes.

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