If you’re like many Canadians, your goals for 2019 include improving your health and fitness. But that, literally, comes with a price. Between gyms, equipment and weight loss programs, the costs can add up fast. If you aren’t careful, you may end up thinning not only your waistline but your wallet as well.
If you’re looking to keep your resolutions without breaking the bank, here are a few tips for getting healthy, while respecting your budget:
TIP #1: PLAY THE FIELD
The price of gym memberships tends to vary. Before you choose the most popular option, figure out what you are looking for in a gym. Are you looking for state-of-the-art equipment? Personal training? Fitness classes? 24/7 access? Gender-specific?
If you aren’t sure what you are looking for in a gym, test them out. Most gyms offer a free trial where you can test out the facility and see if it’s the best match for you. Take advantage of these trials as they will not only save you money, they will also ensure you choose the gym option you are most comfortable with.
It’s also a great idea to check out local community centres to see what gyms facilities they offer. Their equipment might not be the highest quality, but they can be as cheap as $10 per month. If you live in a small town without a community centre, ask if your local school allows the public to access their facilities after hours.
TIP #2: COOL DOWN ON LONG TERM CONTRACTS
If you decide to join a gym, don’t sign up for a long term contract right away even if it appears to be the most cost-effective approach. For a number of reasons, you may decide that this particular gym isn’t for you. Maybe it’s the instructors, the other patrons, or maybe just the music that they play. And if you end up not going, you are wasting money every single month trapped in a yearly contract. Start off with a monthly gym membership first and then when you are absolutely ready to commit, sign a yearly contract.
TIP #3: SEE IF WORK WILL SPOT YOU
Many employers and/or health plans have policies that will cover some or all of your gym membership. Look into what benefits you have at work to see how much you may be able to get covered. If you aren’t sure, ask your manager or Human Resources Department.
TIP #4: TAKE IT OUTSIDE OR INTO YOUR HOME
Let’s be honest – the gym is not for everyone. If you are not a fan of the environment or prefer to workout at home or outdoors, there are ways for you to be frugally fit as well.
It’s amazing how many great workouts there are that don’t require much space or fancy gym equipment. By purchasing a small set of weights, an exercise mat, a medicine ball or resistance bands, you can achieve a full body workout at a local park or in the comfort of your own home. If you don’t want to spend money on equipment, tailor your workout to exercises that rely on your own body weight.
TIP #5: USE YOUR PHONE OR YOUTUBE AS YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER
IOS and Android phones also have hundreds of workout apps, many of which are free or cost very little. If you don’t know where to start, check out active apparel companies like Nike who have their own free fitness apps that include a variety of free workouts and training sessions.
TIP #6: MEAL PREP TO SAVE MONEY
Healthy eating can be expensive. If you don’t adjust your budget accordingly for your new diet, food costs will add up quickly. To balance out the added costs, begin with making small everyday changes like skipping on fast food and convenience food. While it can be an easy alternative, these types of meals tend to be more costly than preparing your own. Also, try to limit the number of bottled beverages you consume. Try drinking more tap water. It’s free, and is so good for you!
For meal planning, try to incorporate produce that is in season into your meals. When produce is in season, it is more readily available and more likely to be on sale or have a lower price. For meats, take the time to shop around. Check out your local flyers every week to see which grocery store has the best deals. If you find a deal that is worth your while, buy more than normal and freeze it. If you have access to a wholesale store in your area, try buying your meats in bulk and freezing them as well.
You can also consider skipping meals with meat sometimes. Vegetarian meals can be delicious and healthy, and substituting a legume or alternative source of protein for meat can help your weekly meal budget take a break from the high costs of meat for one, or more, nights.
We hope our tips will help you with your 2019 resolutions – both physically and financially! If you have your own tips for being frugally fit, we’d love to hear them. Share them with us by tweeting @GTDebtRelief.