January is the classic month to start a new fitness regime, when we’re all fired up with New Year’s resolutions and carrying some extra mince-pie pounds. But before you take out an expensive gym or studio membership, consider these ways you could tone up on the cheap.
1. Look out for fitness sessions in your local park
There are lots of organisations offering low cost or free exercise classes, and often these take place in parks. Gov.uk’s park finder tool can help direct you to more information about your local green spaces.
If you live in London, you can also check out Our Parks, which offers a variety of free exercises all year round across the city. Their menu of sessions offers something for everyone, from classic workouts involving dance, HIIT training or yoga to more unusual ways to break a sweat, like boxing yoga or buggy exercise for parents.
Meanwhile, Happy Bootcamps offers free classes (sometimes followed by a free breakfast) all over the world. The activities involved in each one-hour session will vary, but they're designed to suit all fitness levels. With a mission to get 1 billion people connected, active and happier across the globe, the focus is on having fun, learning healthier habits and making friends. Check out Happy Bootcamp’s website or app to find out its latest UK locations.
2. Get into running
Running is the simplest way to get your blood pumping. You can work out whenever it suits you and go at your own pace. You don’t need to train for a marathon - even regular, short jogs can make a difference.
Here’s some ideas to help you stay motivated:
Start running with a friend who will drag you out of bed if necessary
Download an app to track your progress, like MapMyRun or Nike+ Run Club
Join a running club. London City Runners offer some runs for free and others for a small fee. They're known for ending their Sunday runs with a roast!
Why not combine your work out with doing good for your local community? Sign up to GoodGym and commit to visiting an isolated elderly person once a week. You’ll earn your tea and biscuits though, as you have to run to their home and back
Get inspired by Haruki Murakami’s beautiful memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. The Japanese author explains the high he gets from running and the role it plays in his writing
3. See what sports brands are up to
In case you haven’t heard, millennials prefer experiences to possessions. So many sportswear companies are trying to engage potential customers with branded workouts. While these tend to only take place in big cities and can get over-subscribed very quickly, they're usually totally free can can involve Instagram-famous instructors. You might even get some free merch, if you’re lucky. Here’s some good ones to look out for:
Their leggings might be pricey, but Lululemon will help you stretch them out for free with its in-store yoga classes and weekly run club. Find your what’s on at your nearest branch via the brand’s Sweat With Us hub.
Sweaty Betty has been organising free in-store fitness classes across the UK for more than 10 years. Now, the sportswear brand’s new flagship store in London includes The Studio @ No.1 Carnaby, which offers classes through the day, six days a week. There are even showers, with towels and hair straighteners. Create an account online and sign up for what will no doubt be a sweaty session.
From its Oxford Street store in London, Asics organises a social run and bootcamp workout twice a week. Check out their store and community space schedule for details.
If you don't live in London or another big city, lots of sports brands including Adidas and Sweaty Betty, have fitness videos available online for free!
4. Dip in and out of different studios
When it comes to working out, it pays to be disloyal. Even the fanciest of studios and gyms offer heavily discounted or free trial memberships. There are also companies that let you try lots of different studios that are even cheaper than ClassPass.
For £1 a week, Move GB lets you try as many different fitness providers as you like, once
Instead of paying a hefty monthly membership, Pay As U Gym lets you use thousands of gyms across the UK and only pay for what you use
5. Do some research
It sounds obvious, but don’t forget to ask around and do some research into the best options in your area. You’re bound to find some local gym class gems if you do a bit of digging.
Take London Fields Fitness Studio, for example, a friendly, no-frills studio hidden away beneath some railway arches. As well as offering a family-like atmosphere, the classes are more affordable than many studios at £6 a pop, and monthly membership is £35.
Or if you live in a university town, you can sometimes use the gym even if you aren't a student. Cambridge University's gym is open to the public and has the option to pay as you train, without committing to a membership. Or a day pass at Warwick's gym costs £7.50 and includes access to the swimming pool.
To look after your mind as well as your body, find out how to look after your mental health for free.
And for more tips on how to save and budget better, head to Monzo Money Tips!