Keep fit and active without breaking the bank
4 min | 18 December 2023
The start of the year is often the busiest time for gyms, with people making good on their New Year's resolutions. But gym memberships and joining fees can often be steep, and it’s common to lose interest. We run through some alternative (and often cheaper) ways to keep fit.
The thing with gyms is, if you don’t go regularly, each visit works out to be quite expensive or feels like a thing to tick off your list, instead of something you look forward to. With the cost of living in the minds of many, we’re keen to find cheaper ways of exercising while staying motivated.
Setting up a home gym was popular during the pandemic, so you may already have something in place:
- There are plenty of free professional fitness tutorials online, whether you’re after a cardio or high-intensity workout (HIIT), yoga or Pilates. If you live with friends or family, consider getting an online-only membership – which tends to be cheaper than a gym membership – and splitting it between your household
- Check out online marketplaces for second-hand workout clothing and equipment like mats, weights and resistance bands
- The NHS hosts free videos covering areas like aerobics, yoga and strength training
These outdoor activities can help you burn off energy – all for free or at a low cost. Just remember to dress for the weather:
- Join a park run and use your phone to track your progress for motivation. If you need help staying motivated, try the NHS Couch to 5k Another option is to use fitness watches or fitness apps to make groups with your friends and spur each other on
- If you prefer walking, try rambling with free route maps for walks under three miles. It costs a few pounds a month to access the entire route library and longer routes. Ramblers also host free well-being walks
- Explore your local parks and spaces, which may feature free outdoor gym equipment with helpful instructions, like pull-up bars and exercise bikes, as well as basketball or tennis courts
- If you’re a swimmer and don’t mind the cold, open water swimming has gained popularity in recent years
- The not-for-profit sports organisation, Our Parks offers free classes at various parks (and online) around the country, with classes teaching yoga, dance and Pilates
Local and national initiatives
Check your local council's website for free or low-cost sports clubs and facilities, plus activities like community walks. Nationally, Sport England,Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland run initiatives for those looking to take up a fitness challenge – at home or outdoors – for the whole family.
For tennis fans, Tennis for Free offers sessions nationwide, and the Lawn Tennis Association works with the government to make tennis more accessible, bringing existing courts in parks up to playable condition and making it easier to find and book a court near you.
Use your interests to boost your fitness
If you want to try something different – and maybe even make some money on the side – here are a few ways you could get fit while doing something you're passionate about:
- If you love dogs: help out a neighbour by taking their dog for a walk
- If you’re an environmentalist: try a community litter pick
- If you enjoy gardening: find opportunities to become a volunteer gardener in your area
These ideas should help you keep fit and could save you money compared to paying for a gym membership. Some of these could also give you the opportunity to explore your local community, connect with like-minded people and benefit your mental as well as physical health.
If you do save some money, Chase's easy-access saver account lets you start saving with as little as you like.
18+, UK residents. A Chase current account is required to open a saver account.
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