Tag Archives: cheap

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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Where to Find Outdoor Gear on the Cheap

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It is a universal truth that outdoor equipment is expensive. Compared to high street fashion brands, outdoor brands generally produce clothing with a lesser environmental impact, and invest millions of pounds each year towards technological research to provide consumers with the best gear for their travels. Whilst this gives shoppers relief in the knowledge they’re buying ethical products that will work well, it will also cost them more too.

However, if you are willing to do a combination of waiting, researching and are flexible on styles, it is possible to find outdoor equipment for reasonable prices. Listed below are several options for grabbing yourself a gear bargain!

Outlet Stores

This first suggestion might be the most obvious, but the recession has given rise to a slew of discounted outlet stores such as Decathlon, while outdoor brands have also begun to expand their stores into the outlet retail industry. Admittedly when it comes to stores like Go Outdoors or Decathlon, some of the cheaper clothing and footwear options are not long-lasting, but many of the goods they sell are simply from past seasons, lesser-known brands or factory second stock from popular brands.

Member-only Online Sales

If outlet stores were the winners of the retail industry expansion in the recession, then member-only sales websites were the winner of the web sphere. Whilst most of these websites flog high-end designer brands to the public, there are a few outdoor gear websites to keep an eye on. Sites such as www.leftlanesports.com or www.outdoorfusion.co.uk are good options for general outdoors gear, but a simple google search for more niche sports will also bring up results as well.

Sample Sales

Generally sample sales last 1-3 days and are filled with one-off pieces, factory seconds, or last-season items that the stores were unable to flog. To find out about these though, you need to sign up to the mailing list of brands or keep an eagle eye on the local newspaper. However, sample sales are an excellent way to find bargains if you are willing to wait and sift through weekly e-newsletters. Case in point: around two years ago I went to a Howies sample sale in Brick Lane, London, and picked up two organic merino wool baselayer tops for £25 each, the retail price for these usually being between £49-55.

Special Offers

Often times, large outdoor stores will have special offers on seasonal items to entice shoppers inside the store. Many of these items will have been bought as a special one-off order from a particular brand for a discounted price, and are usually leftovers from a previous season or a factory second that didn’t make it into that brand’s seasonal range. If you know what you’re looking for, and don’t mind wearing last season’s threads these items can be good value for money- however make sure you buy them quick, as the stores usually have limited stock available.

Forums/Local Groups

If you are just dipping your toe into hiking (or swimming, climbing, mountaineering, etc.) then purchasing secondhand gear might be a suitable option for you. Of course, make sure you see the item before purchasing, and if you are buying items like stoves or sterilisation pens, make sure with the owner that everything is working properly and safely before making any payment. When looking for used gear, take a look at forums on outdoors websites like http://www.walkingforum.co.uk/index.php?PHPSESSID=1352be5b68ae66197e286025d389e2cb&board=2.0 or secondhand items websites like www.preloved.co.uk. Local outdoors or meetup groups will frequently have members looking to upgrade their gear, so make sure you ask around or check the community message boards for information. On a side note, it is also worth talking to the staff that works in outdoors stores; often times they will have gear they want to sell, or know of someone who will.

Other discounts….

  • Discount cards/codes– many outdoor stores offer discounts for a wide variety of clubs and professions; check before purchasing to see whether you receive a discount. For instance, Cotswold Outdoors offers discounts for nurses, firemen, armed forces, OAP cards, and student discounts to name a (very small) few!
  • Price match– several outdoor stores have a price match policy (they just forget to tell you about it) where they will match or beat the price of any competitor. This can be handy, but be forewarned, many outdoor stores have a policy of not matching Ebay auctions or including postage and packaging for online stores.
  • Stores’ dedicated outlet pages– When outdoor stores have products from premium brands that they want to sell but don’t have enough to stock in their stores, or need to sell it quickly to make room for new stock, they frequently sell it at a discounted rate through their online outlets, such  as Cotswold Outdoor Rock Bottom page, Snow + Rock’s Clearance  and Kathmandu’s Outlet.

Do you have any techniques for finding gear bargains?

Photo credit: Major Steve / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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