Exercise on the Cheap – Frugal Workouts for You and Your Spouse


The economy isn’t so great and people are starting to trim the fat where ever they can, but they still want to be able to trim the literal fat as well. One of the easiest expenses to cut is your gym membership, I mean who are you kidding anyway, you never go. Well do you? There are a ton of people who just go to the gym to walk/run on a treadmill or elliptical and i have never figured it out. Cut the gym membership and start cutting the fat and toning your muscles for free with the following tips

Aerobic Workouts (Average Calories Burned*)

The following is just a small sample of your options for aerobic exercise. I have left some of my favorites off like biking and rollerblading because you actually have to own that equipment if you are going to do it. I would love to hear some other suggestions as well, if you have a favorite and cheap exercise leave me a comment and tell me about it.

Walking (207-302)

Walking is a great way to get some exercise and get your blood pumping. My wife and I try to walk in the evenings with our two, soon to be three, year old. We usually let him ride his scooter while we walk. This way we are all getting exercise and it isn’t costing us a thing. We measured it out one day so we knew how far we were going and we try to walk at least 1 mile every time we go for a walk.

Running (472-690)

If you are looking for something a little more intense why not take a step up and do some running. A while back I was around 215 lbs at the peek of my weight. In High School I ran track so I decided to start running again. I made it up to where my long run day was around 10 miles, that is a lot of running. I managed to drop my weight back down to a much more healthy 165. Running didn’t cost me much, just a new pair of shoes and it was great exercise.

Hiking (354-518)

I am fortunate to live in an area where nature trails and mountains are a stones throw away. If you are looking for a way to get outdoors and get some good family fun in addition to exercise than hiking is the way to go. You burn some serious calories going up hills and balancing on rough terrain, and who knows if you come across a bear you can get some running and climbing in too.

Swimming (472-690)

Now you are thinking about that nice pool at the gym, or a public pool where you pay to play. I am thinking find the nicest body of water near you and jump in. You are going to have to work harder in an open body of water because of currents and waves/wakes so you are going to burn more calories. When picking a spot to swim make sure you aren’t trying to do laps in the main channel, you want to find a spot out of the way of normal boat traffic. There are several parks in my area which have free swim areas sectioned off in the lakes.

*Calories burned are estimates obtained from nutristrategy.com the range is based on weight and where possible I used the moderate option for the activity.

Strength Exercises

Staying fit isn’t limited to aerobic exercise. A lot of people go to the gym to tone and shape their bodies, who doesn’t want to replace that keg with a six pack. While gym exercises are necessary to become the next Mr. Olympia the best exercises to tone your body are known as core exercises. Core exercises strengthen your core muscle groups to help with stability, balance, and form. The best thing about core exercises is most of them can be done without a gym. Here are few suggestions to get you started.


Pushups are the tried and true exercise for strengthening your arms and chest. If you don’t believe me just ask the United States Military then drop and give me twenty or better yet how about 100. Can you do 100 pushups? I can’t but I am going to get started on the right track to being able to with hundredpushups.com. This program is supposed to get you to where you can do 100 consecutive pushups after just 6 weeks of training, and the best part is its free. They also have a tracker so you can track your process.


Crunches, which have replaced situps, are a great way to tone your abs and build abdominal strength. If you do enough crunches you are going to feel it the next day, it may even hurt to laugh. The same folks who brought us the 100 pushup training program have also developed the Two Hundred Situps Training Program. They really mean crunches but it doesn’t sound as good. Just like in the pushup program you have six weeks of training to achieve 200 consecutive situps, complete with a tracking program.


Pullups are another great arm exercise you can do on the cheap. We have several parks in our town with running/workout trails that have pullup bars. If you don’t have anything like that in your area you may actually have to bite the bullet and pay for a decent bar. You can get a removable over the door bar at Amazon for around $30.


The plank is my favorite core exercise because it works all of the major portions of your core. Basically you execute a plank by being in the pushup position but instead of being extended your elbows are resting approximately below your shoulders and you are utilizing your abs and core to stabilize your body and hold your mid section flat from your heels to your head. See the below image.



This one you will probably need some help with. I don’t know much about yoga other than what my Wii Fit tells me to do. I enjoy it and find the combination of balance and breathing to be relaxing. If you have a chance to go to some yoga classes with a friend or sign up for some on your own check it out. Once you get some of the moves down you can do it on your own time at home, for free.

Have some of your own exercises you do on the cheap? Leave a comment so we can all try it out.

Photo: (mikebaird)


1 Paul @ FiscalGeek June 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Well said, I too don’t get running on a treadmill when you could just as easily pound the pavement on a beautiful day.

In order to stay motivated I make my exercise a destination activity. I will often find a geocache near where I want to run and then run to that location, find the geocache and run back.

2 oneadvice June 19, 2009 at 5:48 am

Love this article (found it via Tip’d)
The gym can be soooo expensive and like FiscalGeek says, running is just the same as being on the tread mill, but with the extra benefit of enjoying the fresh air 🙂
Skipping is a really good exercise too and it’s so cheap for a rope.

3 ObliviousInvestor June 20, 2009 at 7:33 am

My wife and I are quite fond of Yoga. The exercise being done in the picture of the person on the beach appears to be the “Salutation to the Sun.” It’s a great one for both flexibility and aerobics. 🙂

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