How To Get In Shape Without Spending A Dime


Gabriel brought a barbell set into our marriage.

I thought that was cool. I mean, I didn’t know anything about lifting weights, and I really didn’t think lifting was a good idea for women, but still, kind of fun to play around with.

Fast forward a few years, and I fell into a Facebook group of women lifters. So with my husband’s encouragement, I started lifting in earnest.

Then I got pregnant with our second child and started blogging about lifting while I was pregnant.

But… it felt a little awkward, telling everybody how much lifting weights had changed my life – or at least, my pregnant life – but also knowing that I was among the privileged few who could call weight lifting a frugal endeavor because I owned weights, and didn’t even have to consider the expense of a gym membership.

Then we moved from my beloved Tennessee hills back to Texas, and our lifestyle underwent a drastic change.

Yes, we still have that barbell set, but we’ve found something better – a fully-equipped gym. For free.

Over the three+ years since I wrote that blog series, I’ve come slowly to the realization that not only should your fitness level depend on your financial affluence, but you really don’t have to pay a dime to get in shape. Ever.

You know what they say: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And it’s true, but honestly, if you’re armed with the right knowledge, it doesn’t take a whole lotta will to find the way.

Image shows several pieces of workout equipment- hand weights, shoes, a bottle of water, a jump rope- with text that reads "How to get in shape without spending a dime"

How To Get In Shape Without Spending A Dime

  • Workout Gear. I’m going to assume you have some sort of stretchy clothing in your wardrobe. Leggings, after all, are all the rage. 😉 Let’s be honest; most of the reason we buy cute workout clothes is because they’re cute – not because we need them. So wear your sweatpants, squat barefoot if your tennies don’t support your feet comfortably, or wear converse shoes if you have them.
  • Find workout videos on Youtube For Home Workouts. Do some research online, and find a trainer with videos you think you might like, then look for them on youtube. Some trainers put their whole videos on Youtube (like Suzka Light), and others you can find broken down into playlists. I worked out to several Jillian Michaels workouts broken down into 6-minute videos and organized in a playlist over the busy holidays when I didn’t have time for the gym.
  • Find a Free Gym. This may blow your mind a little, but many high schools grant access to the high school gym to local citizens. For free! You’ll likely need to sign a waiver; no big deal, right? The main drawback is that during the school year, you’ll have to go work out either before or after school. We’ve been loving having the empty gym any time of day during winter break, but honestly, I don’t usually make it up there until after 4:00 anyway, so for me, no big deal.You will find that many high school gyms are very light on cardio equipment – ours has two bikes and one elliptical, so it probably won’t be the best place to go if you’re only looking to sweat. But guess what? Sweating can be free too!
  • Hit the road. The value of exercising outdoors can’t be overstated! In the winter, we have a hard enough time getting enough sun on our skins, so every little bit helps – even if the only thing showing is your face! Yes, it can be cold, but think of it as added calorie-burning!Running on the actual road beats a treadmill, hands down, in terms of calorie burning and muscle building. You have to actually propel yourself across the road after all – it doesn’t move for you – so say nothing of going up and down hills, navigating uneven footing.

My personal focus right now is on lifting weights, so I’m not running, but I do start every morning with a half-hour walk. I find that it helps to loosen up my stiff muscles and joints (man, I’m getting old!), and makes my whole day better. (plus, my dog needs the exercise, so that keeps me motivated. 😉 )

Image shows a woman standing in the weight room area of a gym

In the afternoon, on most days, I take the kids and head up to the gym before supper. It’s a lot easier to lift before you eat, BUT! the most significant factor in having a good workout for me is making sure I eat healthy every day by making sure I plan healthy meals, but just as important, that I have healthy snacks at my finger tips, otherwise, it’s too easy to whip up a batch of something sugar-filled, and sugar is not my friend!

Sometimes healthy food does cost money upfront, but it pays off!

That about sums up my take on How To Get In Shape Without Spending A Dime. When I first started my fitness journey, I didn’t even know where to start, so I did spend money – first, $20 on a Gazelle Edge (cardio machine) that I found on Craigslist, and it definitely did help me lose weight. Why? Because I used it for 45 minutes every day. I could have done that on the road with a pair of running shoes and built some muscle along with it, but I didn’t know.

The next thing I bought was a Jillian Michaels home workout DVD. At the time, we didn’t have internet, and I hadn’t been introduced to weights, so I thought that’s how I was going to get “toned’ muscles. But again, I could have gotten the same “tone” just by running, and maybe a few pushups.

Do you see a pattern there? The point is, there’s rarely anything a DVD can do for you that you can’t do on your own for free. In fact, it wasn’t until I started running that my legs really started “firming up”. Then later, when I started lifting those free weights, I started seeing discernible muscle.

You can do the same thing – for free!

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