Exercise and your wallet


Phil Mills

We all know we should work out more. Being fit isn't exactly a new goal, but it has become more and more popular over recent years as people are becoming increasingly interested in living longer and healthier lives. Not everyone has the funds to hire a buff personal trainer to keep them fit, so how can you pursue a journey to fitness without putting a dent in your wallet? Sometimes, beginning financial commitments that put a strain on your cashflow can result in looking at options such as taking out fast loans to cover the short-fall. However, if you budget effectively you may be able to avoid them. We've compiled a list of easy ways that you can enjoy all of the benefits of exercise without placing undue stress on your cash flow cycle. See which of these tips will help you on your journey to keeping fit sustainably.


The words exercise and gym tend to be synonymous, but you don't necessarily need one to achieve the other. The gym has its perks such as access to a wide range of equipment, great mirrors to check yourself out in, swimming pools, saunas, activities and a fitness community. However, it can sometimes be a little on the expensive side and may impact your finances. There are a few things you could do on the other hand to get a gym membership for less if you're one of those people who prefers the ambiance of a gym.

Free gym trials

Gyms usually offer a period where you can use the gym for a discounted amount or for free. This is a great way to get a head-start on seeing if you enjoy the gym. If you do, you'll have some time to make room in your financial budget for your new gym routine as well.

Free weights in gym

Student discount

One of the benefits of student life has got to be the number of discounts you're offered. Do a little research and find out which local gyms have deals for students and you could get anywhere from 20% off.

Free guest passes

Some gyms offer free guest passes, so see if any of your friends have such deals at their personal gyms. Work out if you can pay them a for a set number of guest passes every month or if they're okay with you coming as a guest with them. What are friends for? You can also find a number of free 1-3 day passes on various gym websites.

Corporate membership

Some employers actually offer subsidised gym memberships, so check with your HR department if this is something your employer offers. Take time and think about whether a gym membership is truly the best option for your fitness goals. To avoid wasting money on something you'll never use, try not to commit to paying unless you're absolutely sure you will use it. Most memberships are contract-based which means there are often repercussions for backing out of the contract early such as having to pay the remaining months in full. Alternatively, if you don't go often to the gym then try a pay-as-you-go gym which sometimes ranges from about £5, or a no-frills gym with less facilities which offers memberships from as cheap as £10 monthly.

Join a group sport

There are often many opportunities to participate in group fitness activities within your local area. You can try looking for a group of people at work who engage in self-organised sports or also consider creating your own group. Some councils and universities have free facilities up for grabs such as tennis courts or fields you could use if you do decide to pioneer one. If you don't find luck with any of the aforementioned, some local councils have group activities in leisure centres as well as pay and play sports activities which include:

  • Football
  • Tennis
  • Badminton
  • Dance
  • Swimming
  • Rugby
  • Hockey
  • Netball

Other organisations offer free tennis coaching sessions which also provide equipment for free as well as bootcamps and outdoor classes. Some of these classes include activities like group fitness dancing, yoga, pilates, and family rounders which are suitable for individuals and families. If you have a medical condition that could be improved by exercise, you can ask your GP or practice nurse to refer you to the exercise on referral scheme. This 12 week programme could include aqua, gym sessions, led walks, and circuit classes. An added benefit is you are provided the opportunity to join the leisure centre and use their facilities at a discounted rate.

Exercising at home

Exercising at home is one of the most convenient options and will also save you a truckload of cash. Aside from being able to do it any time you want, you also have the space and freedom to get creative with it, and you're more likely to develop a fitness lifestyle as well.

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Home equipment

The thought of having an in-house gym can sound like both a luxury and a reason to look into a fast loan. What if we told you that buying indoor exercise equipment could cost you less than a gym membership for a year? You can actually get equipment such as skipping ropes from £2, a rowing exerciser from £7, dumbbells from about £3 and an exercise bike from £40 and upwards. It is always best to search for these items in sales and clearances to get the best bargains. You can also throw fit balls, exercise bands and push up bars into the mix as they're relatively inexpensive too. No matter how you look at it, buying your own equipment is a great long-term investment as you can use them to exercise for years to come.

Space and props

If you're not up for buying home equipment you can use the actual space in your house to exercise. If you have stairs, you can run up and down them, as well as use empty space to stretch or jog on the spot. If you have a yard or a garden then everyday items such as steps and benches can be used for loads of different types of exercises such as tricep dips, squats and lunges.


Instead of hopping in your car, or on that bus or train to work, why not cycle? You could buy your own bicycle which can cost from as little as £100, but don't forget to look out for some places online that do up to 50% off sales or second hand.

Cycle hire bikes

In the case that you don't fancy buying a brand-new bike, you can always see if your city has a cycle hire scheme. If you've seen some people riding bikes around town branded with logos of popular banks, this is a great cycling option you could use from as little as £2 for 24 hours. All you'd have to do is hire the bike, and then return it to any docking station when you're done. If you find that you enjoy cycling to work every day, see if you can find a cycle membership that will work out cheaper annually.

Nature adventures

Up for a combination of nature, adventure and exercise? If your answer is yes, there are so many beautiful places you can go explore while exercising in the UK.


Hiking is a great way to burn calories and see beautiful nature spots at the same time. Some of the places around the UK that are recommend for hiking include:

  • Stanage Edge (England)
  • Edale skyline (Peak District)
  • Ben Lui (Scottish Highlands)
  • Lizard Coastal Walk (Scotland)
  • Tryfan North Ridge (Wales)
  • The Coniston Round (England)
  • Blencathra (England)
  • Pembroshire Coast (Wales)
  • Cleveland Way (England)
  • Weymouth to Swanage (England)

Some other great places if you would prefer a long walk filled with scenery instead include the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland (10.9 miles), Tramway Trail in Cornwall (11 miles), Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Yorkshire (16.5 miles) as well as many others that you can do a little research to find. Many of these destinations can be explored within a day, so instead of making it an overnight trip, if possible you can try making it a day trip to cut accommodation costs.


Enjoy water related exercise? Canoeing will help keep your arms very active, is great if you enjoy group fitness and will also bring you satisfaction if you're a lover of nature and scenery. There are several canoeing groups including British Canoeing which costs as little as £4 per month for membership that you can consider joining. Your membership would give you access to 5,000km of waterways, civil liability insurance, and discounts on their products and services. To hire a canoe for the day it could cost from £20 per person, and a little more if you want an instructor, so it's best to arrange to go with a group of friends.


To some, this isn't the most appealing form of exercise as doing it alone takes a lot of motivation, but it's definitely one of the cheapest and most effective ways to exercise. Just 30 minutes running at the right level of exertion can be comparable to hours spent engaging in other forms of activity. Here are a few ways you could engage your inner marathon runner.

Jogging around your block or local playing field every morning or night is a good way to exercise and clear your head. It is also great for exploring your local area.

If you're finding it hard to motivate yourself to run alone, find a partner to help as two is always better than one. You can either look out for a neighbour who seems to be consistent in their fitness pursuits and ask if you could join in on their run, or drag a friend who needs a little motivation along instead.

For charitable people, and those looking to shed a couple of extra pounds or maintain their present weight, a running challenge is a great way to stay motivated. Check your favourite charities and see if they have event spots. The only requirement for some will most likely be raising money from friends and family towards that particular cause. Similarly, you can also participate in community events in your local park which are often free.

Social media fitness challenges

Frequent social media users are likely to have seen fitness hashtags floating round their timeline at one point or another. If that happens to be you, you may want to click on that hashtag and explore different fitness trainers as well as challenges. These are often a great way to find an online community of people looking to keep fit. Some fitness instructors often have 30 day challenges which include particular diets and daily exercise goals. This is a great alternative if you struggle with motivation and taking pictures will help you monitor your progress. Most exciting part about this method might be that it's absolutely free.

Apps and fitness videos

If you're more of the visual or techy type, fitness videos or apps may be a perfect fit for you and most are free to access. They are useful no matter your fitness level and help you work out at your own pace. There are several apps you can use to stay fit for free! These apps usually help with calorie counting, exercise routines based on your current fitness level, music for working out, motivation to help you work out, and many other things. There are also cool apps that enable you to earn money for charities every time you run, walk or bicycle.

Fitness videos can be found online or on social media and are great because you can pause, rewind, and explore different routines. They are also a cool way to get friends and family to participate in your exercise routine as well.


Exercise is a necessity if you want to lead a healthier and happier life. When you venture on a fitness journey, or even if you are already on one, it's always a good idea to explore different options and what works best for you. Within this exploration you should try and consider the price implications of each exercise plan you whip up and find the cheapest way around it to avoid over spending. Let us in on what your current methods of exercising are, and how you avoid bad credit loans if your credit rating isn't that great.

How do you keep fit and what cost-saving measures do you take? Let us know on our social media pages. Also let us know if we missed out on any cheap options for exercise and share this post with friends! If you need more information why not head over to the NHS website.