How to Get Fit and Save Money

A few nights ago, I flipped on the tv and was greeted with the serious yet calming visage of President Obama.

Not too surprisingly, he was delivering another national address about the recession. Throughout the speech, there was a lot of “we’re in this together” and a whole bunch of “this too shall pass” kind of stuff.

And it made me stop and think….We all know that eventually, the recession will end and companies will re-hire, housing prices will climb and people will get back to some semblance of normalcy.

But, for now, we are all in this mess together.

And, because of that, I decided to get in touch with some of my favorite health & fitness bloggers to see if they would be willing to pitch in and help their brothers (and sisters) during this time of recession. And pitch in they did.

So, cancel your gym memberships and say goodbye to Jenny Craig, because you don’t need them anymore. Read on, and learn how to:

Get Fit and Save Money


Here’s what Dr. Yoni Freedhoff had to say:

There was a wonderful study that demonstrated people who looked for short bouts of exercise improved their cardiovascular fitness more than folks trying to hit gyms.  Given that walking’s free and that we’ve all got 10 minutes here and there I’m going to go with the tried and true (and yes, somewhat boring) brisk walk.


Families can use walks as times to talk (ie. Mom or Dad goes for a 10 minute walk with a different kid every night).  You can download free audio books from the library and only listen to them while walking.  You can also consider picking up a pet from the Humane Society as a means to force you out the door.



Dr. Steve Parker had a few money saving suggestions:

1)  Skip the monthly gym fees. Invest in a good pair of walking shoes, then walk 45 mins/day. To burn even more calories (and gain strength?), strap on a backpack loaded with some weight (start low, go slow). I’ve done this myself just using 10-15 pounds of rock. Saves money on a weight vest.

2) Get into rope-skipping for a good cardio workout and to burn excess calories (body fat).

3)  Utilize the free sources on the Internet.

4)  For weight loss, there’s always my free do-it-yourself Mediterranean diet.

Good luck everyone!



Vic Magary of Gym Junkies came up with these creative solutions:

  1. Bodyweight Exercise: Bodyweight movements require no gym, no equipment, and no travel.  A pull up bar would be nice, but is not necessary (a tree branch or playground jungle gym will work just as well).  You could get fit with no other movements other than the push up, pull up, and squat if you really wanted to.
  2. Buy used: If you want to train with equipment, a little garage sale shopping or searching your area Craig’s List is likely to turn up some quality equipment at deep discount prices.  By quality I mean free weights: barbells and plates, dumbbells, and kettlebells.  I’m no fan of exercise machines as it is, but nearly every exercise machine made for home use is complete crap.
  3. Barter: When I was a kid, my karate instructor used to waive your monthly tuition if you washed his van.  I know personal training services can seem expensive to some, but maybe a trade of your expertise can be made with a trainer.  Web design, carpet cleaning, gourmet cooking, or dog grooming are just a few services that I personally would consider trading my personal training services for.



Jessica Young came up with these low-cost tips to help you find your strength:

1. Take advantage of nearby parks and schools. You can create a complete strength-training circuit using equipment commonly found on playgrounds; monkey bars are excellent to swing from and to do pullups on.

2. Buy a jump rope. I cannot emphasize enough the amazing fat-burning and cardio benefits you can get from even just a 10-minute skipping session. Jump ropes are inexpensive and will pay for itself through the benefits you will receive. Imagine what you can accomplish by combining a playground workout with a jump roping session…

3. I enjoy having juice with my meals, but good, healthy juice can be expensive. Make your drinks last a bit longer by diluting them with a little water. You’ll still get the flavor you like while making the juice last longer and consuming a little less sugar and calories with each drink!

4. Go old-school with bodyweight exercises. Remember the body-weight calisthenics that you had to do as a child in gym class? Jumping jacks, bodyweight squats, pushups, mountain climbers, and burpees will get your heart rate up while burning calories and building strength.

I hope these help!



Jimmy Moore came up with…


1.  Stock up on eggs–This has got to be the most affordable source of healthy fat and protein on the planet and you can get several dozen from Sam’s Club or Costco for about $3-4.  Throw in some full-fat cheese and non-starchy veggies for an omelet that will let you eat like you’re rich!

2.  Take a walk in the sun–Besides giving you a positive sense of well-being about yourself and providing the perfect opportunity to get some quality one-on-one time with your spouse, the sun rays will provide your body with some essential Vitamin D for absorbing calcium and improving your overall health.  Walking is absolutely FREE and you’ll feel better afterward.

3.  Buy meats in bulk and freeze ’em–People make the mistake of getting small packages of meat for their low-carb lifestyle and paying through the nose.  Don’t do that!  You can get steaks and fine cuts of meat for pennies on the pound if you get the biggest box you can find.  I find companies that sell to me at near wholesale prices for purchasing large amounts so I get what I need nutritionally while saving some serious bucks!

4.  Avoid the temptation to buy junk snacks–Yes, boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes cost less than a buck, but they’re just not worth it to your weight and health even if they didn’t cost a dime.  Add up all the money you would have spent on snack cakes, potato chips, sugary sodas, Ramen noodles, and all the other garbage foods we typically buy when times are tough and then use that money to buy quality low-carb staples like butter, cream, meats, eggs, cheeses, and non-starchy vegetables (frozen is sometimes cheaper and still just as good).  When the recession is over, you’ll be glad you stuck to your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

5.  Enjoy the blessings life gives you–Sometimes we get so worried about the circumstances that happen in our lives that we overlook the many blessings we are given every single day.  From the miracle of living another day to the simple things that make us smile, reflect on those things.  When you dwell on the positive and look at the abundance we have living in the United States of America, it makes you appreciate what we have all the more and realize things are never as bad as we think they are.  That’s a timely reminder for those of us who are dedicated to healthy living.

Hope this helps!


Andrew Rubalcava of the Go Healthy Go Fit blog advises you to:

Make Exercise Your Hobby

With the economy in the state that it is, one option for cutting your spending can be a simple switch in your free time. Most people don’t consider exercising as a hobby, they look at it like a necessity, something they have to do for their health. But if you consider working out as a hobby in which you enjoy, you can enjoy your free time spending little or no money.

Some great, cheap exercises that are also fun include playing basketball, beach volleyball, football, baseball, etc.

But it’s not just sports, try beach sprints, hiking, running, rowing, etc. The point is that by changing your focus, you can save lots of money while getting in great shape. Just find an activity that you love and enjoy!”



Monica had these SmarterFitter suggestions:


My #1 piece of advice is to can the gym and challenge yourself to stay active the old fashion way:  commute on foot or on bike (okay, this might be a little expensive if you don’t have a bike, but the bike will pay for itself I guarantee it).  It may seem daunting, but even if you only replace one of two car trips a week with self-powered commuting, those miles will add up, both in the bank and your waist.  Not only will you be saving HEAPS of money on the gym, but you’ll also save on gas, too!  As an extra bonus: learn how to maintain your bike properly (hint: check out “Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance” from your local library) and avoid costly tune-ups at the bike shop.


Keep it simple. Avoid prepackaged foods such as frozen meals, soups, pizzas, even bread. Instead, harness the power of Google and learn to make your own.  Basic ingredients such as flour, dry beans, grains, onions, garlic, etc. are fairly cheap compared to the packaged stuff.  Plus, you’ll be avoiding all the extra sugar, salt, fat and preservatives that usually make their way into canned goods.  Again, start simple.  For example, swear off canned soup and make a big ol’ batch of something easy like minestrone or split pea or DR’s luscious-looking butternut squash and black-eye pea soup.  Store the leftovers in the freezer.  Bonus tip:  you can save and rewash freezer baggies for extra savings, both for you and the planet!



Marty Gallagher was kind enough (well, coerced really) to give us a sneak peek at the Frugal Fitness chapter from his new book – Seasonal Fitness

Frugal Fitness

The Way of the Purposeful Primitive

Why being denied a personal trainer, a fancy facility and exotic nutritional supplements might be the best thing that ever happened to your body renovation efforts

click here for pdf



Asithi‘s suggestion makes use of one of our most important and underused public resources:

I like to check out workout DVDs from the library.

Our local library lets me request a book, dvds, audio books, etc from the catalog online.  And I can specify which local branch to pick up the workout dvds since our library system is county wide.  Once it gets delivered to my local library, I get an email letting me know that my request is for pickup.  I borrow the workout DVD for 3 weeks and if I likeit, I can renew online.

They even have an inter-library borrow system where I can request something from another library system.  And they even have a title request link where I can fill out a form requesting they purchase
certain titles when they have money.

Cardio, strength training, pilates, and yoga – all available and all free from my local library.



Carla Birnberg (aka MizFit) shows off her web 2.0 skills with this video recommendation:


The fine folks at Diets in Review came up with 5 suggestions to stay fit and save money:

Jason: If you need to pinch pennies in this economic downturn, make soup! Soups are almost always easy to prepare, easy to keep healthy, and easy on the wallet.

Matt: Walking or jogging outside is a great way to incorporate cardio into your budget, as well as hitting simple body weight movements at home. A few of these are push-ups, crunches, lunges, and squats. Combine three sets of 20 repetitions of these four exercises with an hour of walking or jogging and you’ve got yourself a great workout routine for no cost at all!

Heather: Buy in bulk. From frozen chicken breast to whole oats, buying in bulk saves you tons of money; just make sure that when you buy food in bulk, you’re purchasing items that you regularly use so that you don’t end up with a 10-quart jar of Greek olives.

Brooke: Walk – don’t drive. It’s better for your body, budget and the environment.

Brandi: Make a weekly meal plan, and be sure to incorporate breakfast and lunch. The benefits are plentiful, on both your wallet and your health. You’ll purchase only what you need at the store and avoid impulsive buys that add up at the register. You won’t be spending money on lunches, nor going out to dinner several times a week, which adds up unnecessary calories and money. Finally, you’ll be able to prepare fresh, nutritious meals at home where you control the ingredients, portions and gain some extra family time.

the-twisterA Twist of Word and Mind

Note: RamboDoc isn’t strictly a health & fitness blogger. He is, ummmm….well…he’s RamboDoc.

The reason I included him in this post is because he is one of my favorite commenters. If he smells B.S. or notices a mistake in one of my posts, he is quick to call me on it. As well, he brings a unique and slightly twisted point of view to each and every discussion.

So, lets see what he has to say:

“Indians are always geared to recession, though you may not understand that from the media reports of a resurgent and shining India. Indians are generally conscious of not wasting money, especially while giving it off to people (ask me, I have to take my fees out from my patients through their body orifices!). But, in these difficult times, being careful with your money is a policy that resonates easily with everyone here. We are all finally in one recession-hit global village today!
I have some suggestions:
  1. Spend money on a good trainer. Yes, sounds contradictory to the preamble, isn’t it? Look at the alternative: you spend hours, weeks and even years on magic foods, magic machines and magic pills that will “blast away fat, melt those love handles, give you six-packs”, yada, yada, yada. Doesn’t that cost you money, to say nothing about how much money you lose in lost time and productivity? Instead, a good trainer will give you results that will be the cheapest option for you. Both in the short and the long term.
  2. Don’t take a membership in a commercial gym if you can’t afford one. Even if it is a way off, try to find a small gym with rough-and-tough ways of doing workout, usually cheaper.
  3. No gym at all? No problem? Workout at home or in your backyard, using simple weights and bodyweight circuits. But many of you already know this.
  4. Fast. I mean adopt the IF lifestyle (or any variant). Eating for four hours on your fasting days reduces the amount of money you spend on food.
  5. Choose your foods and vices: I buy expensive foods like nuts, broccoli, avocado, meat, etc. while not spending money on pizza, ice cream, cookies, pastas. Not buying processed foods saves me money alright. Drinking only on occasions, and not smoking at all saves me more money than I can tell you, and let me tell you I used to smoke a lot! A bypass surgery can be a little too much for your pocket, especially if your insurance company folds (or you have no coverage).
  6. Cook your own food: since I started my passage to fitness in life, I have found that it is better I cook my own meals. Each meal (and I do Italian, Chinese, Thai, and others) takes me a few minutes, usually, and is far healthier and cheaper than eating in restaurants. At least in my neck of the woods. I tailor my proteins, calories, and even the sodium (nah, I am not that anal!).
  7. A corollary to that would be to make the same kind of healthy meals for the family, without having to make different foods for different members. In addition, it trains kids not to make daily demands (“I want fried chicken NOW!”;) for every time they have a fancy for some snack. Tough luck, kiddo!
  8. Don’t spend money on internet-based “buy now and get watch the pounds melt away in seven days!“. Make it a policy not spend money on anything unless you have exhausted all the free resources in the internet. Believe me, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
  9. Don’t waste money on supplements: exceptions would be protein and fish oils. Eat enough real foods, and your workouts will take care of the rest. Another low-cost supplement option is chocolate milk. You could actually have cheap chocolate milk as a post-workout drink, rather than an expensive one with muscles on its jar. This is definitely evidence-based, and not some BS I am trying to pass off as my own!”
  10. Never go for routine check-ups/comprehensive health packages: they end up finding some or the other abnormality, and you end up spending more time and money trying to fix what did not need fixing. Examples include some shadow in a chest x-ray or mammogram, some lipid abnormality in the blood test, or some cells in a urine test. Note that this does not include tests specifically advised for you by your doctor, based on your risk profile, age and sex.
There you have it: ten ways to save money and stay healthy!”
And for those of you who liked RamboDocs style, check out his new fitness blog.
Sahar from Fat Fighter TV is really looking after your bank account with her suggestion:

I think a good idea for keeping fit during the recession is to buy some secondhand exercise equipment – some of it has hardly even been used and costs much less than buying it brand new. Look up secondhand stores in your city, check the Classifieds, or go online to sites like Craigslist.

Just make sure what you’re buying has not been recalled.

To check for recalls, call the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or go to

Mark Sisson is going to save you some major moolah with his…

6 Ways to Eat Healthy on a Strict Budget

The Depression Diet? We’ve discussed the “Recession Diet” and we’re always on the lookout for food budget hacks and tricks for our readers, and the economy isn’t getting any better. And so, although commentators, pundits, and politicians are loathe to utter the “D” word, we just couldn’t resist the chance to alliterate and provide some helpful money-saving tips for our readers looking to maintain their Primal ways

1. The Rule of 3

To keep things simple and inexpensive, limit meals to three basic components: a fat, a protein, and a vegetable.

2. Make Meals Pop with Simple, Inexpensive Ingredients

Assuming you’ve gone the logical route and stocked up on the basics (meat, whole chickens, frozen veggies, frozen fish, etc) to cut costs, now it’s time to invest a little in some simple, inexpensive ingredients that can really make your meals “pop.”

3. Use the Power of Google

Out of ideas? Not to worry – you’ve got a powerful recipe resource at your beck and call. Rummage through your freezer and pantry for all those forgotten food items that never seem to get made and Google them, adding a “recipe” at the end of the list.

4. Be Adventurous

As the increasingly apt saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. Necessity breeds change, so embrace it! Try new things! Approach the grocery store not necessarily with a rigid list, but with an open mind.

5. Be Prepared

Primalize your pantry and keep it well-stocked, and you’ll likely never go hungry or succumb to takeout.

6. Plan Ahead

This is similar in spirit to “Be Prepared,” and utilizing Google can be a big part of it. Buy a dry erase board, a chalkboard, or put together a spreadsheet on the computer to plan your meals. Spontaneity is good, and you can always switch things up at the last moment on a whim, but having the week’s meals in writing will let you buy everything at once and avoid those last-minute trips to the grocery store for one or two ingredients that always seem to add up on the credit card statement…..more


Before I sign off, I would like to thank everyone that participated in this little extravaganza of low-cost health & fitness tips.

I appreciate the time and effort it took to brainstorm your ideas.


  1. Argh! I’ve been blacklisted!

    For my unsolicited advice on this topic, please refer to my recommendations on eating healthy on a budget.

    I will also add that you can get a darn good workout by utilizing nearby stairs, hills, parks, and jungle gyms; by doing bodyweight exercises sometimes weighted with rocks/trees/sandbags; and by using interval sprint training.

  2. Well played DR. This is a well put together article, I’m glad I could be a part of it!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R
    Go Healthy Go Fit

  3. I’m gonna brush up on my culinary skills so I can go cook gourmet foods for Vic! Then I just need to move to America for some personal training……Damn! forgot about that 😉

    Great tips. thanks!

    Tusc 🙂

  4. All great tips, good compilation DR! For bodyweight exercises I might throw in a book tip: Navy Seal Fitness by a Patricia Deuster. Very thorough and with heaps of variations and also advice on how to build programs.

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