5 Ways to Crush Your Fitness Resolutions (Without Crushing Your Budget)

A mother and daughter do yoga at home.
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Every year, we’re bombarded by the idea of ambitious New Year’s resolutions — especially around fitness.

These pledges to do and be “better” often come with a hefty price tag, like joining a gym, buying a treadmill or remodeling your entire diet.

But not all fitness-based New Year’s resolutions have to burn a hole in your wallet. When a commitment is affordable and easy to execute, you’re more likely to stick to it and create lasting change.

Say “yes” to new fitness habits that will keep your budget healthy, too.

1. Break a Sweat — From Home

We know: Creating a home gym sounds expensive. But building a home gym can be cost-effective when done with thought and thrift.

Items like resistance bands, light- to mid-weight dumbbells, a cushioned mat and a pull-up bar will generally cost buyers less than $20 each, but altogether they pack a big punch when it comes to effective workouts.

In fact, purchasing most of the items listed above will set you back only $100 or less, which, when you consider many gym memberships cost nearly $100 a month, is quite the bargain.

And, if you’re feeling both crafty and extra frugal, making DIY weights is easier than you think. Homemade weights can be made from simple items like empty cartons, reusable grocery bags, sand and backyard rocks. A little creativity can lead to some big gains.

Even if it doesn’t have the same swag as your neighborhood fitness center, building a home gym cuts out the motivation-crushing middleman — a commute — and makes it easier to stay committed to your athletic goals this coming year.

2. Join an Online Community

When it comes to keeping a New Year’s fitness resolution, a little bit of community goes a long way. (And it’s probably even more important as many of us have spent most of the last year self-isolating to various degrees.)

That’s why you should consider joining an online workout community. Not only are these communities generally cheaper than joining a gym, but you can use your newly minted at-home gym and DIY weights while in the virtual company of lots of other devoted resolutioners.

Peloton is one of the virtual locales folks have flocked to in the past year to get their sweat on. And although a Peloton will set you back $2K, the Peloton app is just $13, and still allows you to take part in its classes, minus the leaderboard feature.

Lots of popular fitness communities have moved online, too. For example, Jabs, the kickboxing-esque workout that took NYC Equinox facilities by storm before branching off, is now running a robust virtual schedule. Thirty-minute classes run you $5 and 50-minute classes are $9. You don’t need much equipment to join in.

You can also join Obé Fitness, which features hundreds of daily class options and an enthusiastic online community, whose prop needs can totally be fulfilled with DIY workout equipment, for just $27 per month.

3. Head to the Great Outdoors

Of course, sometimes you just need to get a little Vitamin D. Even in cold weather, getting an outdoor workout can help regulate the circadian rhythm, toughen up your resolve and give you a reason to put away your screens.

While running is a tried-and-true favorite outdoor workout, it’s not the only way to get fit while getting fresh air.

One option to add some fresh air to your fitness resolution is to build your home gym on a patio, in a garage or in the backyard. You can also head to a local park for a physically-distanced workout with friends.

4. Take a Walk

One of the most effective fitness resolutions is also one of the simplest: Take a walk.

Although it may seem like a small step, researchers found that getting around 4,400 steps a day was linked to a 41% lower mortality rate in some groups.

Many watches now have step trackers, and there are even pedometer apps you can download to your smartphone.

Whatever your preferred way to get some Vitamin D, make sure you have durable clothes and shoes to get you where you want to go, which brings us to…

5. Get Workout Clothes and Shoes for Less

Part of achieving a goal is having the right equipment to reach it, and that goes for fitness related goals.

Having some athletic-tech fabric in your wardrobe is key to staying comfortable, well ventilated, and slightly less sweaty during those intense training sessions. Workout clothes are often made of Spandex or Lycra, which are much better at wicking sweat away from the skin than those old cotton T-shirts you probably have laying around. (And don’t even start us on sports bras…)

Brand new, flashy running shoes may be all over social media (hello, targeted ads), but they will often cost consumers a chunk of their paycheck. Instead, you can find a pair of affordable running shoes by checking out online retailers or even your local running shop during their clearance sales.

Fortunately, the months of January through April tend to be the best time to find affordable running shoes, as shops are clearing out old inventory in preparation for the upcoming spring and summer inventory.

The same goes for affordable workout clothes.  Your Instagram may be filled with ads for $90 yoga pants, but you can find high-quality workout outfits for a fraction of that cost in lots of places, including big-box retailers like Target and Old Navy and online secondhand platforms like Poshmark and eBay.

For those on the hunt for super-low prices, outlet malls and verified second-hand sites like ThredUp are the perfect place to find the outfit that gets you motivated to sweat.

Kristin Jenny is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.