Get fit the credit crunch way

Get fit the credit crunch way

07 Feb 2011

New year, new you! Ever made the new year’s resolution to get fit, joined a gym under a 12-month contract and failed to follow through with your intentions? According to research by online accountants,, Brits waste £37 million a year on gym memberships, exercise and slimming classes they have never attended.

But getting fit needn’t cost a penny, there are plenty of ways to burn calories, without burning a hole in your pocket – whether it’s walking to work instead of getting the bus, taking the stairs instead of the lift or going for a run. A great level of fitness can be achieved with just two and a quarter hours of moderate activity a week. Here’s some tips on how to get fit for cheap and keep at it:


Thrifty fit

• Gym-free exercise – There are plenty of workouts that require no equipment and are achievable in the smallest of spaces. Jog on the spot, skip, do star jumps, press ups, sit ups and squats, and use cans of beans or bottles of water as weights to get toned, get your heart pumping and start fat-burning! Or why not make use of the outdoors? Running is a great cardiovascular activity and changing routes will keep things interesting.

• Fitness DVDs – The great thing about fitness DVDs is that there is an array of workouts to choose from, including yoga, pilates, aerobics, and dance. Clear some space and work out in the comfort of your home, in your own time and say goodbye to the gym commutes and costly memberships.

• Get equipped – you don’t have to just make do with those cans of beans for dumbbells. Websites like Freecycle
( and Gumtree ( often list unwanted goods that are up for grabs. Keep an eye out and you may find yourself with a treadmill, rowing machine, dumbbells or all three! 

• Video games – Got a games console? Why not utilise it? There are many fitness games available that will get you fit while keeping things fresh, fun and convenient. 

• “On yer bike!” – The government’s Cycle to Work scheme can reduce the cost of a bike and safety equipment by up to 50 per cent. Find out whether your work place is participating in the scheme, and start cycling to work.

Staying motivated

• Have a goal – Not ‘I want to lose a stone’ overnight, as unfortunately it just won’t happen. Getting fit takes time, persistence and motivation. So set realistic goals that you can commit to. It’s important to also find something you really want to do, and will enjoy, as that will help you keep at it. 

Catherine Shearer, sport psychologist at Sport Wales suggests, “If you’re heading out for a jog, see how far you can actually run. Record how many miles you achieve each week so that you can see your distances increase. Before you know it, you will be running for miles, getting much fitter and not spending a penny!”

• Buddy up – Personal trainers get paid to motivate others to get fit. But having a friend to get fit with can be just as effective. Find a friend who is keen to get fit. Not only will you both be able to catch up when you meet, you’ll also be able to support and motivate one another with personal goals, and compete. 

• Be patient – Don’t overdo it in a bid to achieve results faster. Dr Mark Ridgewell, sports physician at Sport Wales advises to “take it one day at a time”. He says, “The more gradually you take on an exercise plan, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. Your body will adjust better if you start slowly and you’ll get stronger without injuring yourself.”


Charlotte Thompson, 37, from Leicestershire, is a personal trainer. In 2004, she was overweight and unhappy about her appearance. However, having discovered running later that year, her life changed forever. Charlotte dropped four dress sizes, raised £36,000 for charity, and completed the 5 marathons in 5 days challenge. She now runs her own personal training business and last year trained celebrity hairdresser, Tara Smith, and singer, Natalie Imbruglia, for the London marathon. 

Here are her three tips to keep fit by incorporating increased activity in everything you do:

1. Be conscious that you want to add more activity into your daily routine, take the stairs rather than the escalator, incorporate walking into your day-to-day errands, dance with the hoover – increasing your heart rate in any way is good.

2. Walking one mile burns off as many calories as running one mile. It’s a great exercise that most people can do more of almost immediately. Briskly walking for 30 minutes a day alone can help you to reach a good level of fitness. If you don’t have 30 minutes, try breaking it up into 3 x 10 minutes walks a day. Keeping track of your total daily steps with a pedometer is a good motivator and encourages you to walk more. 

 3. Once you can walk comfortably for 30 minutes begin to incorporate a gentle jog. 30 seconds jogging followed by 30 seconds walking repeated for eight minutes is a great way of introducing yourself to running. I went from hardly being able to run at all to completing my first marathon in less than 18 months.   


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