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Ready? Steady? Sweat (and save ££)
We get it: money’s tight right now. The cost of living crisis is affecting everyone and, according to new stats, healthy add-ons like gym memberships are one of the first expenses to get the cut, with search rising for how to exercise for free.
New MyVitamins findings showed that four in 10 women have now cancelled subscriptions to things like fitness apps because they feel they simply can’t justify the expense. This spans app subscriptions, but also gym memberships and supplements, like protein powder, too.
It’s no surprise, really – we’re all feeling the squeeze, with energy prices at an all time high. Heating your home, cooking dinner and filling your car with petrol has all massively risen in price over the last year, with Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis calling it “previously unthinkable” and “catastrophic.”
That said, it’s worrying to see that people are having to give up things they normally use not only to safeguard but boost their mental health at a time where money worry and general anxiety is at an all time high. While exercise isn’t a cure-all, it can realse those handy endorphins that are guaranteed to make you feel better when you’re worried about rising bill prices.
Enter stage right, all of my go-to ways to exercise for free – because my name’s Ally Head and I’m a Health Editor and Boston Qualifying time marathon runner with six years of experience under my belt. I know that working out shouldn’t have to cost the world. Far from it – it needn’t cost anything, and should be accessible for all.
Exercise for free: 8 simple ways to workout without spending any ££
1. Try your hand at home workouts
We got pretty good at it over lockdown, right? So we can do it again. If Coronavirus taught us anything, it’s that workouts at home can be just as effective as in the gym – and we’ve no doubt now got all of the necessary equipment piled in the corner of the study to help us through.
That said, you don’t need anything to do an effective home workout. My go-to’s include Joe Wicks YouTube workouts (short, sweet and cardio-boosting), Lotte Murphy Pilates (slow, savage and muscles-you-didn’t-even-know-you-had-targeting) and Yoga with Adriene (soothing and serene), and all three experts have loads of free content on their YT channels.
It’s as simple as getting your laptop out and streaming your workout of choice. They have variations and options for all abilities, whether you’re a beginner or pro. Scroll our edit of the free home workouts, here.
2. Make the most of subscription offers or trial days
You know the drill – most gyms or fitness clubs will let you visit for a day (or even sometimes a month) to trial their facilities before you commit to signing up to a subscription with them.
While it isn’t the best long term solution, it is a great way to get a feel for a gym or class if you experience gym anxiety.
A few topline offers:
- Anytime Fitness: free one, two or three day pass at 170 branches across the UK
- Fusion Lifestyle: free one day pass at 71 venues across England
- Xercise4Less: free five day pass at 51 clubs across the UK
- DW Fitness First: free four day pass at 110 gyms across the UK
- Freedom Leisure: free one day pass at 77 venues across England and Wales
- Nuffield Health: free one day pass at 112 clubs across the UK.
3. Head out for a run
Running might sound obvious, but if you’ve tried it before and not enjoyed it, you might have already dismissed it.
That’s where I present you with the Couch to 5km app -a totally free NHS app which guides you from “couch” level of fitness (aka, you’re pretty inactive or don’t have the time to workout regularly) to comfortably being able to run a 5km/ It’s brilliant and will motivate you to have you lacing up in no time – all for free.
If you’re already a keen runner, why not set yourself a new goal and get a group of running friends together to try and run a PB? Races can be costly, but loops of your local park… not so much.
Need more persuasion? There are loads of running benefits – from better heart health, to improved focus, it’s a really great all-rounder.
4. Sign up for free run clubs
Not so keen on running solo? Try a run club, instead. While the idea of turning up to a club with a load of people you don’t know might sound intimidating, know this: runners are super friendly and it’s one of the most enjoyable ways I’ve discovered to exercise for free.
My personal recommendation for beginners would be Parkrun – there are hundreds all over the UK that happen ever Saturday morning at 9am and they’re always free. They’re also marshalled, which means volunteers help cheer you around a 5km.
There are loads of other great run clubs up and down the UK, most of which you can find on Instagram. My favourites in London are the Your Friendly Runners, Run Dem Crew and adidas run crews, all who grab a coffee and croissant post-run (which serves as great motivation when you’re struggling mid-mileage).
5. Go for a walk
Simple – and undoubtedly obvious – but if you’ve read our article on the benefits of walking, you’ll know that it’s one of the best ways to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.
Walking is mood-boosting, not to mention totally free – our edit of the best UK hikes includes some of the most scenic.
6. Get off the bus or tube a stop early
If you’ve cancelled your gym membership and simply don’t enjoy working out at home, getting off the bus or tube early on your way to work is one of the easiest ways to get your blood pumping and your heart rate up.
Even better – walk all the way to work, if that’s doable for you. It might take a little longer, but you’ll have hit your step count before you even get to your desk.
7. Schedule your own workout “class” with a friend
This one’s a good one. Rather than spend £25 on a HIIT class to see a friend, why not head to each other’s houses and stream the same YouTube workout?
You could also head to your local park, if it’s warm enough, or even do it over FaceTime, if you live far away. Either way, there are quite literally thousands of workouts avaialble for you on YouTube – take your pick.
8. Get dancing
Last but by no means least – dancing is a really good form of exercise as any other, plus it’s (yep you guessed it) totally free.
It not only improves your balance, but tones muscles, boosts strength and enhances cardio fitness, too.
I secretly love The Fitness Marshall’s videos on YouTube – they’re super cheesy and feel good in equal measure.
Remember – it’s more important to look after both your physical and mental health during times like these, and that doesn’t need to happen in the confides of a gym – far from it. The world is your oyster – get out and see it, while moving your body and expanding your mind.
Knowing how to exercise for free never looked so easy. Ready? Steady? Sweat.