How to Stay Fit Without Breaking the Bank

The local parks and trails can be your playground. Photo: Angeline Duran Piotrowski
The local parks and trails can be your playground. Photo: Angeline Duran Piotrowski

If you live in sunny California like I do, the fitness options are endless. Being this close to Hollywood, boutique and national chain gyms keep popping up everyday or so. Celebrity trainers and fad diets are a dime a dozen. The question is: Is it affordable? Well, not always.

I often get asked, “How do you manage to work out many days a week? Doesn’t it cost a lot of money?” Actually, no. First of all, I work from home so I enjoy some flexibility with my schedule. Second, I no longer belong to any gym so I don’t pay any monthly membership fees.

Here are a few more ways you can also make staying fit a priority “the money savvy mommy” way:

  • Join a free or low-cost group. 

I was on assignment when I discovered this all-women hiking group that does weekday daytime hikes. The group hikes twice a week and the monthly membership is only $10. I’m so fortunate there’s one in my area. I show up. I don’t get lost because our leader does her trail homework. Plus I’ve made many new friends.

There are other fitness groups that are free or low-cost and you can find them on If you’re training for an event like a marathon or a triathlon, look for local running and tri stores that have organized work-outs. They are also often free or have a minimal joining fee.

  • Head outdoors.

If you’d rather go solo or just want to work out with friends, there’s the big outdoors i.e. our national, state, county and city parks. Parking is often free in the smaller parks or you can get an annual pass. Last summer, my daughter and I embarked on our annual summer road trip and hit three national parks. I purchased the $80 annual pass. By the time we hit national park #4 before the end of summer, I had gotten a return on my investment. The average entrance fee to our national parks is $25-35.

  • Work out at home or at work.

So you’re a homebody. No problem. There are many home work-out systems. I’m a fan of the Beachbody series. Sure it costs about $50-75 to purchase a series, but you’ll use it daily for months or years. You can alternate between two systems or swap with a friend when you’re done looking at Shaun T’s or Tony Horton’s hot bods. Or you can also buy used DVDs on

If you’re also one of the fortunate few to have a state-of-the-art (or even basic) gym at work, what are you waiting for? Use it.

  • Hunt down free or used work-out paraphernalia.

I hit the fitness lotto a few years ago when my friend, who’s also a Beach Body fan, moved to the East Coast. Along with her terrarium and her hula hoop, I inherited an entire set of free weights, pull-up bar (not that I’ve ever used it), yoga and medicine balls. I was on cloud 9. To this day, I use the free weights daily. It has one of those adjustable plates. Double win!

I’m not saying you should pray or pounce on family or friends who are contemplating a move. But just keep your eyes peeled for used equipment. Neighborhood garage sales are good too, and so is Fitness groups and clubs on Facebook also have some postings from members who are trying to unload used gear like fitness trackers and trekking poles. Check out local stores too. I know my neighborhood running store sells gently-used running shoes.

Especially if you’re just starting out, you don’t need the latest gear with all the bells ad whistles. Start slow and be money savvy about it.

Do you know of any other money savvy ways to stay fit? Sound off on my Facebook page.

This article originally appeared at

Mira Reverente

Mira Reverente is a journalist, editor and blogger based in Southern California. She is always on the look-out for uplifting and local stories to tell from personal finance to fitness to family events. She currently writes and edits for a few regional publications. More

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