hiking in Wales

How to Get Fit on the Cheap

With summer fast approaching, now’s a better time than ever to get outdoors and start exercising. However, summer is also the time for holidays, camping trips away, drinks at the pub, and general social merriment with friends, which also leaves the bank balance on the zero side. Fear not, as there are a range of options to help you get fit and save pennies in the process!

Take a Hike – Admittedly, unless you live in the Scottish Highlands or Lake District, where mountains are literally in your backyard, then hiking for city folk will require a little organisation and forward planning. To prevent paying an extortionate amount for train tickets, check online for train times and fees; some railway journeys have a set price for tickets, while other routes are cheaper at the weekend.

In addition to this, do a little sleuthing on Google Maps and find out where the nearest forests, woods or beachside retreats are closest to you; there’s a good chance there will be trails or bridleways in those areas for you to explore. A handy resource for hiking trails includes Walk magazine, which is published and updated regularly by the Ramblers Association, provides a searchable list of recommended walks and an interactive map to help you gain some inspiration. They even have walks through cities for those days when money (or time!) is tight. You can take a look at the website here.

Gym bunny – In an effort to combat the rising percentages of obesity, many cities are now installing ‘free gyms’ in parks and local recreation areas to enable people to exercise for free. Many of these outdoor gyms provide machines that exercise a full range of muscles, which enables users to create a workout routine to suit them. Dozens have been installed in England alone, and to find one where you live check out your neighbourhood on http://www.tgogc.com/Gyms/.

Reap the benefits of membership – Nowadays, most stores understand that to gain a customer’s loyalty they want more than a 10% discount or well-stocked shelves. As a result, many companies are now offering free or discounted classes within their stores. In the UK, Sweaty Betty now offers their members free running clubs or gym classes in their stores, with choices including circuit training, yoga and zumba to name a few. All you have to do is sign up to their newsletter in-store, which is also free. Other companies like Sweatshop, the running specialist chain, or Nike, organise running clubs within each store. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Lake District, nearly all the outdoor stores there organise regular events with their customers. As for our friends across the pond, REI holds regular workshops on sports such as climbing at competitive rates.

YouTube – it’s not just for cat videos and music playlists; YouTube has an abundance of fitness videos, such as yoga or zumba. Admittedly, some are certainly better than others, but with a little searching you can easily find a video that has the exercise you’re looking for.

Employee benefits – Many large companies or corporations offer their clients free or discounted gym membership in an effort to keep their employees healthy. However a surprising number of employers forget to tell their employees about these benefits. For instance, one employer of mine forgot to mention they paid £5 a month towards gym membership until after I had been there for six months! If your employer doesn’t offer any fitness discounts, check whether they offer the cycle to work scheme, or whether a gym nearby offers discounts for local members.

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