8 absolutely free ways to exercise

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  • Ready? Steady? Break a sweat (and save ££)

    We understand: money is tight right now. The cost of living crisis is affecting everyone and, according to new statistics, healthy extras like gym memberships are one of the first expenses to make the cut, with searches for how to exercise for free.

    New findings from MyVitamins showed that four in ten women have now canceled subscriptions to things like fitness apps because they feel they just can’t justify the cost. This extends to app subscriptions, but also gym memberships and supplements, such as protein powder as well.

    It’s no surprise really – we’re all feeling the pressure, with energy prices at an all-time high. Heating your home, cooking dinner and filling your car with petrol have all risen in price hugely in the past year, with money-saving expert Martin Lewis calling it “previously unthinkable” and “catastrophic”.

    That said, it’s troubling to see people having to give up things they normally use, not just to protect but to boost their mental health at a time when money worries and general anxiety are at an all-time high. While exercise isn’t a cure-all, it can release those handy endorphins that are guaranteed to make you feel better when you’re worried about rising bill prices.

    Enter stage right, all my best ways to work out for free — because my name is Ally Head and I’m a health editor and Boston Qualifying Time marathon runner with six years of experience under my belt. I know that exercise shouldn’t have to cost the world. Far from it – it doesn’t have to cost anything and should be accessible to everyone.

    Work out for free: 8 easy ways to work out without spending ££

    1. Try your hand at home training

    We got pretty good at it over lockdown, didn’t we? So we can do it again. If the Coronavirus taught us anything, it’s that working out at home can be just as effective as in the gym – and we’ve no doubt now got all the necessary equipment piled up in the corner of the study to help us through.

    That said, you don’t need anything to do an effective home workout. My favorites include Joe Wick’s YouTube workouts (short, sweet, and cardio), Lotte Murphy Pilates (slow, wild, and muscles-you-didn’t-even-know-you-had) and Yoga with Adriene (calming and calm), and all three experts have tons of free content on their YT channels.

    It’s as easy as pulling out your laptop and streaming your selection. They have variations and options for all abilities, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. Browse our edit of the free home workouts here.

    2. Make the most of subscription offers or trial days

    You know how it goes – most gyms or fitness clubs allow you to visit for a day (or even sometimes a month) to try out their facilities before committing to a membership with them.

    While it’s not the best long-term solution, it’s a great way to get a feel for a gym or class if you’re experiencing gym anxiety.

    Some topline offers:

    • Anytime Fitness: free one, two or three day passes at 170 branches across the UK
    • Fusion Lifestyle: free one-day passes at 71 locations across England
    • Xercise4Less: free five-day sessions at 51 clubs across the UK
    • DW Fitness First: free four-day sessions at 110 gyms across the UK
    • Freedom Leisure: free one-day passes at 77 venues in England and Wales
    • Nuffield Health: free one-day passes at 112 clubs across the UK.

    3. Get out and run

    Running may sound obvious, but if you’ve tried it before and didn’t enjoy it, you may have already dismissed it.

    That’s where I introduce you Sofa to 5 km app -a completely free NHS app that guides you from ‘sofa’ level of fitness (aka, you’re quite inactive or don’t have time to exercise regularly) to being able to comfortably run 5km/ It’s brilliant and will motivate you to you’ll be lacing in no time – completely free.

    If you’re already a keen runner, why not set yourself a new goal and get a group of running buddies together to try and run a PB? Races can be costly, but loops at your local park… not so much.

    Need more persuasion? There are tons of running benefits – from better heart health to improved focus, it’s a really good all-rounder.

    4. Sign up for free run clubs

    Not so keen on running solo? Try a running club instead. While the thought of showing up to a club with a bunch of people you don’t know may sound intimidating, know this: runners are super friendly and it’s one of the most fun ways I’ve discovered to work out for free.

    My personal recommendation for beginners would be Park run – There are hundreds across the UK happening every Saturday morning at 9am and they are always free. They are also graded, meaning volunteers will help cheer you on around a 5km.

    There are loads of other great running clubs up and down the UK, most of which can be found on Instagram. My favorites in London are Your friendly runners, Drive Them Crew and adidas running team, everyone grabbing a coffee and croissant after the run (which serves as great motivation when you’re struggling mid-mileage).

    5. Go for a walk

    Simple – and arguably obvious – but if you’ve read our article on the benefits of walking, you’ll know that it’s one of the best ways to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.

    Walking is uplifting, not to mention completely free – our edit of the best UK walks includes some of the most scenic.

    Mixed race woman doing sports in the city, carrying mat and water bottle.

    6. Get off the bus or subway one stop early

    If you’ve canceled your gym membership and just don’t feel like working out at home, getting off the bus or subway early on your way to work is one of the easiest ways to get your blood pumping and heart rate up.

    Even better – walk all the way to work, if that’s possible for you. It may take a little longer, but you’ll have reached your step count before you even get to your desk.

    7. Schedule your own fitness class with a friend

    This one is good. Instead of spending £25 on a HIIT class to meet a friend, why not go to each other’s houses and stream the same YouTube workout?

    You can also head to your local park, if it’s warm enough, or even do it over FaceTime, if you live far away. Either way, there are literally thousands of workouts available to you on YouTube – take your pick.

    8. Get dancing

    Last but certainly not least – dance is a really good form of exercise like any other, plus it’s (yep, you guessed it) completely free.

    It not only improves your balance, but tones muscles, increases strength and improves fitness as well.

    I secretly love The Fitness Marshall’s videos on YouTube – they’re super cocky and feel just as good.

    Remember – it’s more important to take care of both your physical and mental health during times like these, and it doesn’t have to be in the trust of a gym – far from it. The world is your oyster – go out and see it while moving your body and expanding your mind.

    Knowing how to work out for free has never looked so easy. Ready? Steady? Sweat.

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