The Health and Fitness industry is booming and it shows within the world of social media. A few taps into the #fitness #world #of #Instagram paints a picture of fitness which comes at an expense. There are selfies of smiles wearing Lululemon, race stats pictured on a touchscreen Garmin watch or the 100% carbon bike you could lift with a finger. Being immersed within the fitness world, it made me consider the social pressures of looking the part when embarking upon fitness challenges – what is the true cost of fitness?
As part of this two part series, I kick things off by reviewing the budget-savvy side of getting fit. Come back for part two next when I look at the expense of fitness.
I took up running at University as an extremely cheap and versatile way of keeping fit, for free. The lack of overheads with running made it more and more appealing as I continued to eat and drink my student loan away. It wasn’t long before running became engrained within my life, in turn, taking up the role of therapist, which came completely free of charge. As I learnt to love long distance running, I craved a Garmin watch which could give me real time input on pace, so after six years of running the biggest overheads for running was a Garmin watch (£80) second to the pairs of trainers (£80+).
Gym membership on the cheap
When I graduated, I found my feet in a new city where I discovered the world of budget gyms to go and do a work out; Pure Gym, Fitness 4 Less, Xercise4Less all charge within the realms of £10-20 a month for a no frills, no contract, straight up gym membership. The equipment is no different to the David Lloyds or the Nuffields of the world and the classes are still of a good standard. Just two visits a week would make each session cost £2.50. Fitness initiatives such as PayAsUGym and MoveGB make new and previously inaccessible gyms and sports cheap.
Don’t forget to check out Living Social and Groupon for discounted pilates, yoga classes and gym passes!
Looking the part, on a budget
Now I’ve got the gym membership, what about the kit? I’ve signed up to a duathlon and a sprint triathlon which both require the right kit. I’m scouring the internet for bargains, all the while, considering if such bargains even exist? New online retailers are popping up at the click of a Google search, it’s not just about Sports Direct! Which gives hope to those who live in fear of seeing another Sports Direct bucket of a mug. Waiting for the right moment pays off, the impromptu flash sale on Wiggle or a £5 off your order when you sign up to our newsletter are all ways of shaving off dollar of the final total. If you DID want to use Sports Direct and you live near an outlet, just opt in for store collection and get a £5 off your next shop voucher. These deductions make it possible to buy the big brands, Nike, Adidas etc without spending £££.
My favourite online retailers for cycling gear is Tredz (free delivery, great customer service and complimentary Haribo with my order!) and Sport Pursuit (flash 70% sales all the time!). For running, I order from SportsShoes and ProDirect Running.
Sometimes it’s difficult to justify £7 for a 45 minute session with a yoga instructor who asks you lie down into shavasana for the first and last five minutes. Every minute I spend calculating the cost of the class instead of releasing all of the responsibility from the world. While I miss out on the lack of interactivity and feedback, streaming a yoga instructor on YouTube is a happy compromise (there are alot of intense yoga-heads on YouTube but I think Yoga with Adriene’s ok!).
Old fashioned healthy competition
We have more data on our physical activity than ever before, daily steps, distance ran, length of time sat down – everything about a work out is now documented. In addition to this, Strava’s segments has changed the way I run or ride – I now know where every single segment is near me and consciously speed up in a bid to become Queen of the Mountain or to beat my own personal record. Compete against yourself with PB’s, better yet, compete against other people to maximise your work out. Setup a group challenge at work or with your friends to walk the most steps within a week or run the most miles – it’ll change the way you approach the challenge, I promise!
Entering in for sport-based competitions can sometimes be a real money burner, the Bristol to Bath Marathon race cost £50 but there are plenty of other running races in the calendar for those who just want to run around a bit and get a medal which are sometimes half the cost of the bigger races. Take a look on a run planner such as Runner’s World to spy out a cheap race, the cheaper races are usually small and interesting (if it’s really new, definitely read up a race review of the event first).
For the beginner runner, the greatest overheads come in the form of a decent pair of trainers but at time goes on the cravings to look and feel the part drive new lycra purchases – this is completely fine, online retailers offer discounted lycra all the time, sign up to emails and bookmark websites listed on page 4 of Google which offer good bargains. Similarly modern day gyms and nationwide fitness initiatives are making it ridiculously easy for people to get active. The internet is a great free resource for Yoga videos, training plans and a wealth of knowledge of cheap races which will boost motivation at a fraction of the price of the big races.
Can you think of any other cheap or effective ways of saving money when it comes to fitness? Comment below!
For the intermediate runner or the person lacking motivation, is budget always the answer? Is it just a pair of good trainers which gets you over the line? What if exercising goes wrong? Join me for part two of the true cost of fitness, as I explore the splurgy-side of fitness challenges.