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25 Ways to Get Fit for Less Than $25

Work Out Without Going Broke
  -- By Nicole Nichols, Fitness Instructor
Everyone's holding their wallets and purse strings a little tighter these days. But that doesn't mean that you have to give up on getting fit just because times are tight. Exercise can be easy to fit into your day, just as it can be inexpensive, even free! Check out these 25 ways you can get fit for less than $25. Whether you're just getting started or want to refresh your routine without going broke, there's something for everyone!

1. Resistance band (or tube) $15 This is by far the most versatile piece of equipment you can buy. I've long touted the benefits of bands, which you can use to strength training every single muscle in your body, whether you're a beginner or advanced exerciser, at home or on the road. Watch this video to learn more.

2. SparkPeople's free workout videos $0 We're constantly adding to our library of online workout videos, which give you precise instructions and options to make every workout easier or harder to fit your level. You'll find strength, aerobics (cardio), Pilates, flexibility and more so you can constantly change up your routine without spending a dime on new workouts.

3. Walking and running $0 Provided that you already have a good pair of shoes, walking and running are great ways to fit in cardio—you don't have to fight the crowds at the gym (let alone pay for a membership), and you can adapt your routine in distance, time and speed as you get more fit. Need ideas? Get walking workouts and running programs from SparkPeople.

4. Pedometer $15-$20 Studies show that when people wear a pedometer, they tend to take more steps throughout the day. A pedometer can be a really motivational tool, allowing you to set goals (aim for 10,000 steps per day) and try to increase your steps over time. If walking alone doesn't sound fun to you, this little gadget just may provide the motivation you need.

5. Gliding discs $20 You may have seen these discs at the gym or on TV. They are a fun way to add new exercises to your strength training repertoire, and most discs come with a pamphlet with instructions and exercise ideas. Of course, you'll need more than gliding discs alone to get in shape, but if you're looking for something new that doesn't break the bank, they can be a fun option. You can also you paper plates as a free substitute for commercial discs.

6. Library $0 Believe it or not, your local library provides lots of fitness options, from DVDs to VHS tapes and fitness books. Use your library to try new fitness DVDs all the time! You can switch as often as you'd like, which is a great way to avoid a plateau.

7. Stability ball $15-$20 Like resistance bands, stability balls (also called physio, Swiss or exercise balls) are extremely versatile. They can be incorporated into cardio routines, yoga, Pilates, stretching, and of course, full body strength training (whether used alone or in combination with bands or dumbbells). Here's an introduction to using the ball, which also links to workouts and fitness ideas.

8. SparkPeople's Workout Generator $0 Our Coaches have designed over 100 strength training workouts for every fitness level and goal. Whether you have no equipment at all, or use of small items like dumbbells, you'll find plenty of ways to reach your goals (and easily track your workouts) using our Workout Generator.

9. DVD $5-$20 If you prefer to exercise at home, fitness DVDs are always a great option. Some are better than others, so always read reviews from other consumers (check out Amazon.com) before you buy. You can get them cheaper by buying used whenever possible. When you get tired of your own DVDs, sell them to someone else who wants them and put that money towards a new title. BUY IT! SparkPeople's new Cardio and Strength DVDs feature 10-minute workouts you can do at home!

10. Pilates or yoga session $10-$25 Even without being a member, most gyms will let you pay to take classes. If you're looking for new workout ideas or just to try something new, you could spend your $25 on a single group or semi-private yoga, Pilates or Pilates Reformer session with an experienced instructor. A splurge like this could also be a fun way to reward yourself monthly or semi-annually for all your hard work! <pagebreak>

11. Personal trainer in training $0-$20 When I was in college and training to become a personal trainer at my campus recreation center, members could "train" with me either for free or for a discounted rate. It's a win-win situation for the trainer and the trainer-to be (and the facility itself). Find out if your local gym or university offers such a program, which helps personal trainers get valuable experience. You can use the time to ask questions, get exercise ideas, or just simply get a great workout for less money.

12. Jump rope $5-$10 Get your cardio on by jumping rope! It's inexpensive, fun and a super calorie burner. Check out this workout video for jumping rope ideas you can follow along with or use on your own.

13. Aerobics step (used) $25 You can make up your own cardio step routine, buy (or borrow) an inexpensive step DVD, or incorporate the step into your strength training exercises (such as lying on it as a bench, adding inclines to lunges, adding declines to pushups and more). These are expensive items when new (near $100), but I've seen many used ones for sale for around $20—a great buy!

14. Community recreation center $10-$25 Your local community recreation center might not be bright and shiny like a big box gym, but they often have some exercise options, like cardio and strength training machines and access to dumbbells, swimming pools, basketball courts and more. Check it out and find out what yours has to offer. Membership is usually a low, annual rate that you may find more worthwhile than the high cost of a gym.

15. Garage sales $1-$25 Garage sales are notorious for selling gently-used exercise equipment, videos, and even bigger ticket items (like bikes and treadmills) for a fraction of the cost. Check your local classifieds for key "fitness" words and show up early to snag a deal!

16. Craigslist $0-$25 Visit www.craigslist.org to find local people selling their stuff and giving it away for free. Pay with cash and pick it up yourself. You'll save on everything from home gyms to yoga mats.

17. YouTube $0 SparkPeople's workout videos are on YouTube, but so are many others. Have a favorite video instructor? Want to try that Tae-Bo workout everyone has been talking about? Search for keywords on YouTube and you just may find the whole workout you're looking for—for free!

18. Mini ball $10-$13 You may have seen infomercials for the "Bender Ball," but these mini fitness balls have been used among instructors and trainers for years. If you're an intermediate to advanced exerciser, you can probably discover countless ways to incorporate this ball into your strength training routines. If not, you can buy the Bender Ball and accompanying abs DVD for under $13.

19. Podcasts $0 If you use iTunes already, then finding Podcasts will be easy for you. Most are free, and you can get audio or video podcasts that you can download to your computer or iPod—everything from yoga routines to cardio workouts. Other websites offer workout podcasts, too. Just do an Internet search for what you're looking for, such as "Free Pilates podcast" and see what turns up!

20. Playground $0 They're not just for kids—they're full of fitness opportunities for adults, too! Try pull-ups on the bars, dips on the benches, climbing across the monkey bars or whatever you can think of. Who ever thought exercise could be this fun?

21. Park $0 I love walking and hiking in my local park. It's a great way to enjoy the nice weather, meet new people, and get fit all at once—especially if your park is hilly.

22. Sports equipment $10-$25 Remember how fun it was to play sports like basketball, volleyball, soccer and more? Grab your family and friends; pick up a ball, and play!

23. Join a sports league $25 Most adult sports leagues cost a small fee to join. You'll get access to fields and gyms where you can practice with your team and play a sport competitively, which can be a great workout, depending on your sport.

24. Balance trainer $15-$25 There are a lot of balance trainers out there, from balance boards to bubble-shaped discs, which can improve core strength and add intensity to your standard strength training moves. Some smaller, inexpensive models are available, and these can add variety, challenge and fun to your routine.

25. Stairs $0 Do you ever find it strange that people will drive to a gym to endlessly climb a Stairmaster machine? Take your cardio workout to the stairs in your house, office or another building that you have access to. Whether you walk, hop or run up them, at least you're paying nothing and going somewhere!

BONUS: SparkPeople's NEW Fitness Starter Kit, available at www.SparkPeopleStore.com is just $24.95!