Get fit for free!

*or for very little money

The New Year is here, and this is the time for making resolutions. By far and away the most popular resolutions involve losing weight and getting fit. I’ll be posting tomorrow on how to eat healthily on a budget.

Getting fit doesn’t have to be pricey – you don’t need a gym membership or a personal trainer. Even if you do have both of those things, that’s not a guarantee that you will get fitter. You need motivation to get started (as you are reading this, I’m assuming you’ve got that) and then the motivation to keep going. Motivation to keep going is where people struggle. It’s easier to be dedicated if we know what our goal looks like. What does ‘fitter’ look like to you? Is it to run a 5k? To touch your toes? Or to carry your shopping home with ease? If we set ourselves a target, we can then set a date by which we want to achieve it. I’ve signed up to a 5K at the end of March, so that’s a good motivator to get back in to running.

Once you have identified your goal, read on for tips on how to achieve it.

(Disclaimer: Check with your GP before starting on any exercise programme. My tips are things that have worked for me in my personal experience, and you follow them at your own risk).

Be more flexible

Yoga is great for increasing flexibility. All you need are some comfy clothes that you can stretch in (not restrictive like jeans). This can be shorts and a t-shirt – you don’t have to have fancy yoga gear. You may also like to buy a mat, which can be picked up at sports shops or online for between £5-£10. And then, just go to YouTube, and search ‘yoga for beginners’. You’ll soon find a teacher that you like. My favourite is Sarah Beth Yoga, who helpfully indicates what level each video is for. Here’s one of my favourite videos:

As you get more adept, you can even see if there are free or low priced yoga Meetups in your area. Search on Meetup.com, and keep an eye on Facebook.

Running

To start running, you will need a pair of trainers and some running socks. The trainers have to be sports trainers – no Converse here I’m afraid! And January is a good time to get kitted out with running trainers – it’s the sales and last season’s trainers are very similar to current season’s trainers in everything except price. And why do you need running socks? Well, blisters are unpleasant! Running socks provide extra cushioning to protect your feet, and are made of fabric that wicks away sweat to prevent chaffing. Additionally, they are inexpensive – I picked mine up for £2.50 for two pairs. I’d also suggest a sports bra to prevent uncomfortable jiggling too.

Before you go outside and attempt to run around the block keeping up with the experienced runners, stop! That’s not the route to success. You’ll end up feeling terrible, and want to give up. In the last few years, there has been an explosion in downloadable running programmes to get you from unfit to running your first 5k. The most popular of these is Couch to 5K, and you can find tips on warming up as well as the links to download the podcasts on there. Couch to 5K is my programme of choice, and I have used it in the past to start running – I’ll be picking it up again to get back into running in time for my 5K at the end of March.

If Couch to 5K isn’t for you, and the idea of the being chased by zombies appeals, how about Zombies, Run!? You complete missions as you run, and when you get chased by zombies, you have to speed up to escape from them. You get the same interval training as Couch to 5K, but in an immersive game format.

And once you’ve run your first 5K, why not sign up for your local ParkRun? ParkRun is free, run by volunteers, and you can even get a time for your run. Check the site for an event near you.

Get stronger

You can get stronger for less too! Welcome to the world of kettlebells. Don’t be intimidated – kettlebells won’t make you look like Arnie overnight, but they are an ideal way to get that ‘toned’ look and build strength. I picked up my 4kg kettlebell from TK Maxx for £9.99 – you can get them at sports shops for a similar price, or you can pick on up on GumTree for less. Start small and get a kettlebell you can easily lift so you don’t hurt yourself. Then, pick a kettlebell routine. I started with this one:

And before you know it, you’ll be getting stronger!

Share your tips on how to get fit for free below.

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