Tips for Staying Fit on a Budget

Expensive gyms and workout classes, top of the line workout clothes and accessories, energy bars and other fitness fuel – it can add up far too quickly. When I decided I wanted to overhaul my lifestyle and make a change for the better, I needed to figure out ways to do that without blowing my budget, which was pretty low. I didn’t have a lot of extra money (still don’t!) to pay a high monthly premium for a gym membership or yoga classes, nor will you find me in places like Lululemon or Lucy buying gear to sweat in, no matter how nice either of those things might be.

I came up with a list of tips that I have personally used, some that I knew going in, and some that I learned along the way.

1.) Discount Shopping – TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and other discount stores are AWESOME places to find great workout gear. Start in the clearance racks and then move to the regular Active section, and you’ll be surprised with how much great clothing they have (and great brand too). I’ve also found great deals on yoga mats, hand weights, resistance bands, stability balls, and other at-home workout gear – anywhere from $5 to $15 for most of those things. Another great place to shop is Target. They carry a lot of workout gear that is much, much cheaper than other stores and holds up just as well in my opinion. I’ve also found my beloved Sports Beans and other energy gels/chews there for a lot cheaper than other places, and those are essential for me with long runs.

2.) Workout Without a Gym – There are SO many things you can do that don’t require a gym. Power walking, running, biking, On Demand workouts, pushups, lunges, jumping jacks, wall sits, etc. Especially in the nicer weather, it feels so much better to be outside getting fresh air while doing something good for your body rather than cooped up in a gym. It’s also muuuuch cheaper to not be paying monthly!

3.) Yoga Studios/Gym Part-Time Work – If you love yoga classes or really want to have a gym membership, you can talk to them about part time work in exchange for a free/discounted membership. At my Bikram studio, they offer “Work Study” for people who want to take the last class during the week and stay a bit after to help clean up. They get to take the classes for free, and its very low commitment because you only have to go when you want to – not a certain number of times a week. A lot of gyms also will have you help with cleaning up, folding towels, etc., so don’t be afraid to ask!

4.) Check out your Local Parks and Rec – This is pretty new to me, but a lot of cities and towns offer adult classes through their local Parks and Rec. I always thought most of the offerings were for kids, but they have a ton of things for adults too. The link to my local P&R is here (Arlington, VA) and they offer things like Zumba, Yoga, Swimming, Aerobics, and a variety of other classes for a fraction of the price as taking these classes elsewhere.

5.) Try out Free Classes – A lot of Bikram/yoga studios do one free class or week long trials for a discounted rate for first timers. I shopped around a lot when I first started doing Bikram and basically did it for a whole month for about $20. A lot of other types of yoga (like Down Dog Yoga in DC) do a free intro week, so shop around. Most places have a website these days so you can find local specials. While these won’t last forever since they are normally just for first timers, its a good way to get started and find something you like on the cheap.

6.) Fitness Gifts – Birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holidays where you will be receiving gifts – ask for workout clothes or other gear you might need or want instead of other things. Last year my sister bought me some amazing running capris from Lucy that I would never have bought for myself, but they are my absolute favorite pair of bottoms to run or workout in. I’ve also gotten a water belt, CamelBak, sports bras, dry wick tops, and various other random fitness related items for birthdays/holidays. I’m always happy to have those things rather than other random items I come up with to ask for who’s novelty fades quickly after I receive it.

Are any of these tips new to you? What else do you do to stay fit without blowing your budget?

For breakfast this morning, I had breakfast pudding! I stole this recipe from Evan because when I saw his post on it I knew I had to have it. I got a bag of Vega Shake n Go Smoothie in Chocolate from HLS, and I have been looking forward to trying it.

For this breakfast, I mixed together:

  • 2/3 medium banana, mashed (1 pt)
  • 1 scoop vega smoothie mix (1 pt)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (2 pts)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (.5 pts)

You let it sit for a few minutes and it turns into a delightful chocolate breakfast pudding that’s not only delicious, but filling too!

While I realize it doesn’t look that appetizing, I promise you it was delicious and really filling, too. The chocolate vega smoothie mixes has such a good flavor – I can’t wait to experiment with other ways to use it!

0 comment on Tips for Staying Fit on a Budget

  1. Anna S
    August 25, 2010 at 11:19 am (10 years ago)

    Hey Beth!

    What sort of camel back do you have for running? I’d really like to get one, so I don’t have to run with bottles of water anymore, and I have an REI dividend waiting to use.

    • Beth
      August 25, 2010 at 11:28 am (10 years ago)

      I have a hydration pack CamelBak. My sisters ordered it for me from and I LOVE it. It’s very similar to this one: but it’s light blue. It holds a lot of stuff in addition to the water – like keys, phone, and camera. I couldn’t be happier with it!

      • Anna S
        August 25, 2010 at 11:30 am (10 years ago)

        Thank you!! I really want something I can stick some Gu in too while I’m running. This looks perfect!

  2. Amy @ Second City Randomness
    August 25, 2010 at 11:28 am (10 years ago)

    I use my apartment complex’s sad excuse of a workout room for a gym. Sure, I complain about it- but I’d prefer doing this over spending the extra $$$ for a gym that I’d still have to drive to get to. Saves cash and time. Score!

    And I gotta show some love to TJ Maxx… it’s just awesome.

  3. Katie Photiadis
    August 25, 2010 at 11:29 am (10 years ago)


    I have the same problem with being healthy while living on a tight budget. For me, though, I have more of a problem with eating healthy on limited funds than exercising. Produce/ healthy processed foods just cost more than eating pasta with butter, lol.

    By the way, I actually went on a run outside yesterday. The cool weather is such a pleasant change after all the 95+ days.

    • Beth
      August 25, 2010 at 11:32 am (10 years ago)

      Good for you! The cooler weather has been SO nice lately. And that’s a good point – eating healthy on a budget is tough! I am planning on doing a post on that very soon with some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

  4. Anna S
    August 25, 2010 at 11:31 am (10 years ago)

    I like to look at blogs for good deals/giveaways!! I won a really nice yoga mat from a giveaway, and bought some garlic gold from KERF when she was having a free purchase when purchasing. Good way to try things I want to when they are cheaper!

  5. Rachel (Two Healthy Plates)
    August 25, 2010 at 12:10 pm (10 years ago)

    These are great tips – I have to agree with you that I don’t like to pay much money for clothes that I’m just going to sweat in! I’d much rather spend money on other sections of my wardrobe!

    I love the idea of trying free classes – I could probably go for a whole month trying different places in town – and then I’d definitely know which one was best!

  6. greensandjeans
    August 25, 2010 at 12:12 pm (10 years ago)

    Another thing I’d recommend is to be on the lookout for running groups! There are a lot of running clubs or groups that are free or very cheap and it’s great to know you have other people waiting on you to show up!

  7. rc1001
    August 25, 2010 at 12:46 pm (10 years ago)

    AWESOME tips!!!

  8. Evan Thomas
    August 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm (10 years ago)

    Those are great tips. As much as I LOVE having a fully loaded gym when I’m at school, I know that there’s so much I can do without it and that the Summer isn’t an excuse to not get the same great exercise in.

  9. TheHEalthyApron
    August 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm (10 years ago)

    Great points! Being healthy doesn’t have to be expensive! Plus, it’s your health! It deserves most of your attention!

  10. lisaou11
    August 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm (10 years ago)

    Love this! You can be fit anywhere! I love when I dont go workout for a gym bc I get so much more creative!

  11. Alex @ I Eat Asphalt
    August 25, 2010 at 8:40 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi Beth! I just found your blog and moved to Arlington two weeks ago. I love all of your tips and am definitely looking forward to reading more! 🙂

  12. Ashleigh
    August 25, 2010 at 9:36 pm (10 years ago)

    Those are great tips! I always buy my clothes at TJ’s and I just recently quit my gym to start going to a more affordable one. I know it’s possible to workout without a gym, but for me I love to take classes and really enjoy it so it’s worth it.

    August 25, 2010 at 10:22 pm (10 years ago)

    mmm ive made something similar for breakfast before and i can definitely attest to it being super yummy inspite of its poop like consistency lol.
    even better when healthy meets frugal <3

  14. Annabelle
    August 26, 2010 at 8:17 am (10 years ago)

    I think its funny you suggest using using “On Demand” for workouts. If you didn’t waste money on top-shelf cable you’d could use that money for a gym membership and watch cable there….Cable free for 2 years and don’t miss it a bit!

  15. Meghann
    August 26, 2010 at 9:13 am (10 years ago)

    I love the chocolate pudding with the oats – I will have to try this version next time!

  16. Lisa
    August 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm (10 years ago)

    Great post. Getting fit can get EXPENSIVE. I buy a lot of my workout shirts at Ross. I also shop the Nike and Pearl Izumi outlet stores. MUCH cheaper than the regular stores.

    Also find a friend that might have an employee discount somewhere. I have a few friends who get discounts at Adidas and Nike.

  17. Lisa
    August 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm (10 years ago)

    I like the new header!

  18. prAna
    August 26, 2010 at 4:16 pm (10 years ago)

    Hey Beth,

    We agree that it doesn’t take a lot of money to really increase your health. Many of us at prAna are big fans of bargain shopping and wholeheartedly support our local CSA & farmers markets. Living in SoCal spoils us as we have great weather year round for surf, climbing, yoga, and skiing in the winter. We will keep an eye out for your blog and if you are interested in some deals or info on our company you can check us out at

  19. Mr. Vitamin Guy
    August 27, 2010 at 7:23 am (10 years ago)

    Hey Beth! These are great tips for those that are changing their lifestyle to a healthier one, thank you so much for sharing. I actually read an article recently that mentioned not to pay for gym memberships, like you mention there are many activities to do in the parks and around your neighborhood. I also heard never to buy bottled water (I know I love Fiji too) but to get a filter and save that way – so that’s what I’ve done and it’s worked out wonderfully!

  20. Gretchen
    August 27, 2010 at 8:28 am (10 years ago)

    Oh my gosh, I never even considered checking out my P&R for classes and stuff. Falls Church has a great community center and parks and rec listing I never take a look at. Need to get on that. Thanks for the tip, fellow northern Virginian! 🙂


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