So many of us are feeling the pinch right now. Facing up to the soaring cost of living and the reality of what we can afford with our monthly budget can feel pretty brutal.

Owing to energy, petrol and food reaching unprecedented levels the vast majority are having to look at ways to cut back on non-essentials. This may mean cancelling your beloved gym membership. Considering the endless physical and mental health benefits on offer, it can feel pretty brutal having to let this go.

So what can we do to keep costs under control whilst staying fit and active? Here are some nifty hacks to keep you feeling tip top that won’t break the bank.

Keep Fit for Free

With the latest UK inflation figure from the Office for National Statistics hitting 9.1% the strain on monthly budgets and the pressures from rising food prices is getting even tighter. People like me used to say that investing in fitness activities is a key driver to long term health and well-being. But for many the best option right now is to cut back on non-essential spending. At the present time it’s vital to make ends meet and find solutions to ride the wave of the cost of living crisis.

There’s never been a more important time to explore the free fitness options available to you. The good news is there’s heaps of stuff on offer. From free fitness apps, to streaming and outdoor fitness, all it takes is a little research.

Outdoor Gym

Outdoor gyms offer a great way to get fit for free. Check out your local council’s website for details of outdoor gyms near you. Then, head down to your local park and kick start your health and fitness routine.

These free open access facilities offer a range of fitness equipment designed especially for outdoor exercise. They’re easy to use and cater to all levels of fitness.

Static cardio equipment is great for a gentle workout or beginner. At the other extreme apparatus like pull up bars, parallel bars and plyometric boxes offer a challenging workout for the more experienced.

So pop on your favourite playlist and head to a park near you. Before you know it you’ll be enjoying a full body workout in the open air that can improve your physical and mental health.

Dance Like No One is Watching

It’s no surprise that the more vigorous you dance the more calories you’ll burn. According to Healthline dancing can burn in the region of 118 to 207 calories in just 30 minutes, based on someone who weighs 150 pounds.

What’s more it’s free, easy to do at home and requires no special fitness gear or equipment.

Eager to give it a go? Make a playlist of your favourite songs, crank up the volume and dance like no one is watching!  Perhaps this will spur you on to study our L2 Exercise to Music course.

Best Free Workout Apps

Get searching and you’ll find loads of accessible free fitness apps. There’s literally something for everyone. Here’s a few of our solid favourites here at the Academy of Fitness Professionals.

Fitnet is great for a personal trainer coaching experience with access to over 200 free exercise videos.

Mapmyrun is a free running app that analyses your run data and progress.

Mapmywalk offers similar benefits for walkers, helping to keep track of data such routes, speed and distance covered.

For newbies, the NHS couch to 5K targets those seeking a structured running challenge, supported by nine weeks of running plans. There’s also loads of extra help available from motivational podcasts and playlists.

Seeking something a little more tranquil? SimplyYoga offers instructed poses for beginners all the way through to pro.

Undoubtedly worry about finances and rising costs can also play havoc with our mental health. Smiling Mind offers a range of free meditations generally lasting 5 to 15 minutes that are easy to dive into and find a little me time, even on the most hectic of days.

Start Your Own Exercise Group

There’s nothing better than a bunch of like-minded people to help keep your fitness regime on track. By enlisting the support of those around you it’s far easier to adhere to an exercise routine.

Think about what you’re looking to achieve from an exercise group. For example, it may be the social interaction and stress busting benefits of a walking group. Or, if you’re after something a bit more fast paced a running group or boot camp may fit the bill.

It’s easy to start a group and connect with like-minded people in your area via platforms like Meetup and Nextdoor. Of course it’s important as group organiser to think about safety considerations to keep everyone safe.

Does someone carry a first aid kit? Is there a group leader at the front? Are reflective vests needed? What would happen in an emergency? Are there minimum numbers for the group to safely take place?

Home Fitness Equipment

Take a sneaky peak around many homes and you’re likely to find untouched fitness equipment gathering dust in the spare room or some forgotten corner. Many of us are guilty of buying equipment with the intention to get fit and follow a healthier lifestyle, but how many of us actually stick with it?

According to the Mirror Britain’s have a staggering £1.5 billion accumulated in unused gym apparatus. What’s more they state ‘a study of 2,000 adults found more than one in ten (14%) have gym apparatus sitting around never being used – worth an average of more than £200 each.’

So, whether it’s a folding treadmill that’s become a drying rack, a kettle bell doorstop, a deflated Swiss ball or something else, now’s the time to make use of your investment and reconnect with the home fitness equipment you already have.

Don’t have any home fitness equipment? Look again. Chairs are great for a whole host of exercises such as tricep dips, glute bridges and mountain climbers. Stairs offer an awesome cardio, leg and bottom workout. They’re also great for warming up. There’s a vast array of bodyweight exercises that can be performed in a small space for a full body workout. Plus, if you’re after a little extra load water bottles and tin cans will rev things up a notch.

Cheap Fitness Options

Without doubt this is a tricky time for budgeting. With costs going through the roof now’s the time to be cautious about the contracts you’re committing to.

There’s also lots of great ways to exercise and improve body tone without a membership sign up. This is also the ideal way to try different sports and fitness activities and meet like-minded people along the way.

Pay as You Go

A gym day pass offers a great compromise between getting your gym fix and managing your monthly spending. Commit to maximising the value by enjoying your favourite class, a gym workout and a post workout yoga session or swim.

Many gyms also offer extra facilities including saunas, tennis and lounge areas. A little planning ahead means you can use many of the facilities and treat your visit like a mini wellbeing retreat day.

It’s well worth checking out gym, pool and spa network sites such as Hussle. You can easily compare passes in your area and prices. What’s more this can work out cheaper than going to the gym direct. What’s not to love!

Check Out Gym Offers

If you’re pretty flexible on which gym you visit, then keep on top of local gym offers near you. With deals such as 10 days for £10, reduced off peak and discretionary senior fitness memberships, it’s well worth comparing the various offers near you.

You can also get a regular fitness fix and save money by switching to a local authority subsidised or a no frills budget gym. While this may seem like a downgrade, be realistic about how many of the add-on facilities you really use. You may well be paying for a plush pool, tennis courts or a wide range of classes that in reality you seldom use.

Exercise on Prescription

If you suffer from a health condition and think exercise may help, ask your GP about exercise on prescription services. Many GP’s work in partnership with local councils and leisure centres offering exercise on referral to benefit inactive patients who are at an increased risk of developing a chronic disease. Typically, this includes obesity, diabetes, depression, asthma, high cholesterol and mild arthritis.

Exercise on prescription is generally offered at fully funded or subsidised rates for participation in a programme of activity for a set number of weeks. You’ll also get to tap into the coaching and expertise of a fully trained fitness instructor. When the programme ends there’s often further benefits to encourage you to stay active such as reduced cost classes or membership options.

Maximise Streaming Subscriptions

We’re all creatures of habit and easily fall into a routine with how we use streaming subscriptions. But are you actually getting the most out of your package?

Whilst we all love to flop on the sofa after a busy day and watch a movie, have you checked out all the fitness workouts on offer? Fitness streaming offers a huge range of options to try. Plus, it gives you the chance to mix things up and have a go at something new. All from the comfort and privacy of your own front room.

Top platforms like Amazon Prime have a wide range of workouts to explore. Don’t have a subscription? Platforms such as Fitness Blender offer both free classes and low cost stream on demand workouts.

Group Fitness

Spread the cost of a group fitness instructor’s expertise by buddying up with a group of mates. A £30 per hour fee becomes as little as £3 per head spread across a group of 10. And you get to tap into all their professional expertise to keep your fitness goals right on track.

Haggle like a Pro

If all else fails and you simply can’t face giving up your monthly gym subscription, now’s the time to renegotiate.

Of course gyms know that cancelled memberships are part of their day to day business. But it still hurts to lose valuable members. What’s more a lost member takes time and valuable marketing spend to replace.

Gyms are not immune to the soaring cost of utility bills. And many like Gym Group are facing the reality of raising prices. Never the less it’s still worth a conversation with your local fitness manager before terminating your membership to see if a deal can be done.

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