The last time I was in a gym was in college. At the time, it was free so I figured why not utilize a free asset. One of my roommates and I would go in the morning before classes to beat the rush. We would typically spend an hour or more there spotting each other, etc. I’d also try and get some cardio in on the treadmill or rowing machine. Now, looking back on all those hours spent there, I can honestly say we spent half the time talking and goofing off and not maximizing our time efficiently.
Fast forward to today. I’m in way better shape than during my college days where any benefits derived from that hour in the gym were quickly erased by several beers and pizza that night. Today, I don’t have a gym membership, don’t go to gym classes, and don’t spend money on workout videos. Actually, I’m in the best shape of my life and spend little to no money to maintain it. Here’s how you can too:
- Cut the gym membership! Given the fact that you’re on a personal finance blog that helps you keep your money from getting burned, I can assume that you shopped your gym membership around and found something along the likes of a Planet Fitness for $10/month. That’s $120/year. While not exactly a fortune, it isn’t an insignificant amount. I’m also willing to bet you have friends at the same gym and spend a lot of your time socializing. I once had a friend tell me he couldn’t cut his gym membership because he would have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Since when did going to the gym become a social outing?! Cut the membership!
- Purchase the following:
- New pair of running shoes. You can find good running shoes for around $60 and they last 3,000 miles. I usually stretch that to 4,000+ miles. That means those running shoes can last 3-4 years if you run an average of 16 miles/week (4 miles/run, 4 times/week). That’s $15/year.
- Get yourself 10, 15, or 20 lb. kettlebells. I’m actually surprised more people don’t use kettlebells. Do a quick google search and you can find a plethora of kettlebell exercises (the swing is my personal favorite). Upfront cost for 4 years after buying 2 kettlebells: $7.50/year.
- Do the following:
- Lace up the running shoes and get outside! I know the excuses you’re probably saying in your head: “I’m not a runner,” “It’s too cold,” “It’s too hot.” If you’re new to cardio or haven’t done it in a while, start slowly. Walk around the block a few times. Build up your endurance. No one is asking you to run 4 miles at an 8 min/mile pace. Everyone started somewhere. Focus on yourself, not everyone else. If it’s colder than you’d like, layer up! My rule is I won’t run unless it’s above 25 degrees I live in the northeast at a pretty high altitude so that 25 degrees can quickly turn into 15 or lower with the wind chill. In those instances, I’ll wear at least 3-4 layers, gloves, hat, and something to cover my mouth/nose. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! The key is to just start!
- Spend some time developing a kettlebell exercise routine. I’ve developed a routine that consists of swings, squats, snatches, cleans, and planks that takes me 15 min to complete. The key is to minimize rest between sets. 15 minutes and I’ve completed a full body workout and worked up a nice sweat and elevated heart rate.
- Work out in the morning! I know this doesn’t work for everyone. Some people aren’t morning people. I happen to be a morning person. I wake up at 5:30am every weekday and either run (outside!) or workout. Yes, it helps that there are streetlights where I live, but don’t let the darkness deter you. It’s not pleasant, but exercising in the morning is a great way to energize yourself for the day ahead. Always tired when you wake up? Go to bed earlier. I’m in bed by 9:30pm every weeknight. 8 hours of sleep + 50 minutes of exercise/stretching and I’m ready to hit the workday head-on by 7:30am. It’s not always easy to exercise in the morning but you get used to it and it’s much better to exercise when you have energy rather than when you get home from work and are exhausted from the day. Plus, it’s easier in the morning when the rest of the house (wife and kids) are still asleep!
For an upfront cost of less than $100, you can get and stay healthy. And it takes much less time. Think about it: driving 30 minute to/from the gym + 1 hour workout: 90 minutes. 25 minute run + 15 min workout + 10 minutes stretch: 50 minutes. The key is discipline. Waking up early, running when it’s cold and dark outside, and motivating yourself all take time.
How do you stay in shape? Do you still have that gym membership because you suffer from FOMO? Let me know in the comments below.