Exercise ON A BUDGET
What is the first thing that you give up when life starts to get busy? For me it is exercise. The next thing I tend to give up is often saving because if I’m flat out I look for the fastest way to do something and generally you pay a premium for that.
So, today I’m talking about how to exercise ON A BUDGET and to pick yourself an activity that you know you will do regularly. All exercising is not created equal and I like some and loathe others.
But thankfully I am a person who likes to move about. When I heard the term “active relaxer” I thought it summed me up pretty well because I fidget a fair bit and have trouble sitting still.
I’ve been meaning to blog on fitness for some time and it relates to money because, like most parts of my life, I’ve worked out how to do it frugally whilst still getting maximum enjoyment.
Exercising and investing are similar in two ways:
1. Each is a habit that you need to do consistently to succeed at.
2. Often the simpler the better and the more cost effective.
Learning to invest from a standing start (that is you know ZIP, nadda, nothing) takes a lot of effort because you have to pretty much learn a whole new language and skill set. With all the emails I receive from this awesome PF community I have noticed that one of the biggest barriers to beginning to save and invest is PROCRASTINATION.
Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?
People can’t decide between this bank account or that one, this retirement fund or that one. And I pretty much just tell people not to overthink it - just bloody well do SOMETHING! NOW! Because for every week you don’t invest that’s dollars that you are missing out on in returns. And as people age they begin to get more concerned and more panicked about investing because they think “I should have started this far earlier”!
Well, same with exercising, people put off getting their heart rate up when they are young and able and then one day they get to a point where they say “well I’m too old to start now and I can’t afford a gym membership so I might as well do nothing”.
So I wanted to briefly tell you today how to exercise quickly and cheaply, something I do every single day. And I want to encourage you to start TODAY because what is the point of being financially secure in life if you don’t have the good health to enjoy it?
Let’s start with the cheapest form of exercise on the market...
As you know I have a dog and that gives me huge motivation to get out there and walk him every day. Otherwise he just sits and stares at me like he is doing as I type this.
Walking is FREE and I always listen to podcasts along the way, also FREE! You don’t need fancy shoes, just put something on your feet and get out the door. I always feel better after a walk, as does Blue.
I had a wonderful neighbour in Christchurch called Daphne, she is about 40 years older than me, now in her 80’s, and far “bendier” than I. She always used to tell me that she not only did yoga but she also TOOK the classes and she always followed this up by reaching down and touching her toes using ZERO effort. I will always remember when we had one of the biggest earthquakes in Christchurch and she could not get out of her house because all of her doors were jammed shut so she had to climb out of a window which she did with ease! I want to be nimble enough to climb out a window when I am her age! She gave a lot of good advice over the years and it felt rude not to take it, so I thought I had better try yoga out. Jonny and I used to drive across town, spend $20 each per class to bend, stretch and sweat in a hot room full of people we didn’t know and then drive all the way home, it easily took up 2 hours. And it was brilliant. But then we moved to a small town where yoga was in a freezing church hall which sounded just AWFUL to me so I googled “yoga at home” and discovered online Yoga With Adriene.
I’ve been hooked ever since! She has hundreds of FREE videos and about three times a week I pick one that I feel like doing, I roll out my mat, turn up the heater and fill up with the zen stretchy vibes that yoga gives you. It’s brilliant and she is an excellent instructor and talks you through every step. If anyone every complains to me about an ache or pain or low mood I always prescribe Yoga With Adriene. Plus her dog Benji wanders around her yoga room throughout the class which I love.
I have been a runner since I was a teenager, when I used to run all over Dunedin with my big beautiful german shepherd called Elsa (I tell you that dogs are the biggest motivator to get out the door). And because I like running the pressure has always been there to sign up to events. So, I did a couple of half marathons, paid my $80, spent time the day before collecting my race pack, spent the day of the race getting there, running, getting the stitch because I was stressed, getting back home through the crowds. I also bought the latest expensive watch to track every step and ounce of effort I was putting in so I could download it afterwards and analyse it. Plus I needed to make sure my outfit matched because who knew who was looking? I loved running but it was stressing me out and these events gobbled up too much time.
That was until my beautiful friend Kim told me to just leave my watch at home, put on my shoes and “just go running Ruth”. So, that’s what I’ve done ever since.
My biggest expense is my shoes. My last pair cost $179 on sale BUT then I have a frugal hack that I use. I keep an eye out for these same shoes on end of line sales and then I pick up a further two pairs for about $80 each and put them aside for when I need a new pair. I pick up some second hand gym gear (don’t be grossed out because how many people do you know who decide to get fit, buy all the latest Lululemon gear and NEVER HIT THE GYM? Then they get rid of their unused gear which I buy for $2!).
And then I just go running for the joy of it! Living in Alexandra I’m spoiled for choice as to where to run as I can run straight out my door and be into it or I can jump in my car and in 5 minutes be up in the thyme covered hills.
Now there is no pressure how long I run for, where I run or when I run and if the hill is steep, I walk. If there is a bird in the tree singing its heart out, I sit under it and listen. If the view is great I just stop, look, breath and pat my dog. So, I might be gone for 20 minutes or I might be gone for two hours. Apart from the shoes running is FREE and to me being able to run is FREEDOM and it is great for mental and physical health.
Well, umm, yes. Or no.
I went to the gym a couple of times when I was younger and did some group classes where we all had to coordinate our movements - and everyone seemed to know them except me! I was so uncoordinated that the instructor got the giggles and it pretty much put me off for life and it ignited a fear of group exercise that still burns to this day. My colleague is also a gym instructor so she MADE Jonny and I go and do a Body Balance class earlier in the year. It seemed easy at the time, lifting 2kg of weights above our heads (bah, what a joke) BUT then neither of us could move our arms for the next two days so we never went back! To me exercise should be fun, not painful for days afterwards! Then of course there is the cost of membership, the hassle of getting there and deciding what to wear! Our local gym is $20 a week, or $850 per year each or $1,700 if we were to both join. I’ve lost track of the amount of friends who have signed up to gyms and NEVER gone after the first week. But then I do have one sister who goes ALL THE TIME (hence the accurate figures I just used), so some certainly do get their money’s worth.
But more recently I was enticed to try group workouts again by a friend Ruth (great name huh!) who is a qualified PT. She launched The Home Body Mum on Facebook as a side hustle where she does short, sharp 15-20 minute training for busy women (and men) to do from home and you can join her live, or do it later when it fits your schedule. For $15 a month you get access to 80 workouts (and growing) and she uploads three new ones a week. It’s fun watching her hustle grow and now she offers a 30 Day Bodyweight Challenge and a dietician designed meal plan. So for $180 a year busy people who like gym workouts can keep fit. At home.
What I like about this is that although it’s online she uses Facebook live videos that you can join in real time or come back to later. Ruth has a young baby and she decided to open up the workouts she was already doing to get herself back into exercise and keep herself accountable. You get to join her each workout and hear about her day so it feels PERSONAL and you feel a connection via FB with your instructor. And you can message her during the workout - if you can still breath that is. She kindly gave me a link to a 7 day free trial so you can check it out: 7 Day Free Trial
Now I have to be honest here, I started the workouts but I fell out of the habit and retreated to doing what I love which is walking, running and yoga. But I know that a lot of people love this aerobic kind of workout but finding a way to make it fit into your day AND to do it cheaply is hard. Well, I found you a solution that works and all you have to do is bring your own motivation to the party.
So there you have it. Who knew that you could work exercise into a personal finance blog?
I heard someone recently say “the power of simplicity can not be overstated” which struck a chord with me because I like my exercise to be uncomplicated so that the only equipment I need is a pair of shoes, a yoga mat and my own body. I like to keep it simple. I’m not a competitive person and if I do 10 press ups today I don’t try to do 12 tomorrow and 14 the day after. I just want to get out there, get my heartrate up and have a puff because I know that it’s good for my physical and mental health. I enjoy it when I am doing it and when I’m done I just get on with my day - feeling better for it.
A number of people I spoke to for my podcast used to buy expensive gym memberships that they barely used and once they discovered PF and FI they stopped them. Then they stopped eating out all the time because they were now on a budget and they started to lose weight because they were cooking healthy meals at home. They made their exercise simple and doable and the end results were wins all round - they saved money and they became healthier.
I’m planning on being on this earth for a good long while and to enjoy my time here I not only need to be financially sorted - I think that more importantly I need to be healthy, because there is no point to creating wealth unless you have the healthy body and mind to use and enjoy it.