Perhaps one of your goals this year is to establish a habit of working out on a regular basis. Fairly soon into your fitness journey you’ll discover that getting healthier doesn’t come for free, either physically or financially. First of all, you may need to sign up for a gym membership (although there are many alternatives) which requires a monthly fee. If you’ve decided to workout in your home, you’ll need to acquire equipment, DVDs, etc. In either case, you will need the appropriate accessories and, of course, workout clothes.
Before you know it, your fitness goal can eat up quite a bit of your money. Although getting and staying in shape is important and definitely worth an investment of time and finances, where do you draw the line? The following tips will help you decide what you really need and how much you should be spending on it.
If you want to get your own exercise equipment and have the space for it, you don’t need to buy everything brand new. Check neighborhood garage sales, classified listings, Craigslist, and sites like freecycle.org. Be persistent and you should be able to find the equipment you need in good condition for far less than full retail price, if not for free. There are less expensive items you may want to buy new, such as yoga mats, but you can still spend less by looking for off-brands and more basic-looking styles.
Consider swapping workout DVDs with a friend instead of buying them. Both of you will be able to try new programs without the expense.
Unless you’re a serious athlete, the truth is you don’t really need specialized clothing to workout in. Sure, some clothing promises to wick away sweat and moisture and keep you cooler, but you don’t need it to get a good workout.
- Use what you have. Chances are you have all you need for workout apparel already in your closet. Comfy t-shirts, shorts and sweatpants will do just fine.
- Focus on comfort. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing compression capris or workout tanks, don’t wear them. If you associate working out with discomfort, you’ll be less likely to stick with it. Wear loose, lightweight, comfortable clothing. If you’re focused on appearances, you’re going to drop a lot of money, and fancy workout clothes won’t give you any better workouts than plain t-shirt and shorts.
- Watch for deals. If you like a particular name brand but don’t want to pay for it, shop outlet stores. These stores often have huge seasonal sales and closeouts you won’t see other places. In my opinion, if you’re spending more than $30-$40 for any particular piece of clothing, you’re paying too much.
- Try off–brands. Many smaller retailers have developed their own lines of workout gear that mimic major brands and have surprisingly similar quality for a fraction of the cost, definitely affirming that you’re ‘paying for the name.’
One exception to the ‘wear anything’ philosophy of workout apparel is your shoes. Good-quality shoes are a vital part to any workout regimen. Never buy used shoes, and replace your shoes regularly to provide proper support. If you’re walking or cross-training, yearly replacements should be fine. If you’re a runner, replace your shoes based on mileage and wear – as often as every 3-6 months. Although you will pay a little more for quality shoes ($50-$100), it’s a worthwhile investment. For the best fit, visit a specialty store with staff that are trained to fit your shoes to your needs and particular walking or running gait.
Although you will need to invest in a few quality items to meet your fitness goals successfully, there are many ways to spend little or nothing on workout gear. Focus on the goal rather than appearances, and you’ll be helping your finances as well as your health.