We are all on a budget. Some of us have tighter budgets than others. But we all have to think before we spend, whether it be on fitness, food, or anything else.
After spending 2 years (yes, I started P90X way back in March of 2010) eating right and exercising, I’ve learned a few things about getting the most bang for my buck with exercise, fitness, and nutrition. I’ll share some of those dollar-stretching tips with you today! Some I’ve used. Some have been shared with me by others. And in the comments I hope you’ll share other money saving ideas you use that we might all benefit from.
Granted, I’m at the point now where I’m seeing the “big picture” of what my health and fitness is really worth to me, and it’s priceless. The way I feel now, my energy level and vigor for life … I can’t put a price tag on that. So I’m happy to splurge on things like the Ultimate P90X2 kit, Power Stands, and Bowflex 1090 weights so that my family can come workout with me. But it wasn’t always that way. At first it was like the P90X disks were going to be a total waste as they sat in the workshop for months. So I’ve kind of had to “earn” my right to indulge in my fitness to the point I now do by proving (to myself and my family) that I would stick with it.
First, let’s talk exercise =
These home workout programs offered by Beachbody are a no-brainer. They are so much cheaper than a gym or class membership. They never expire. You can keep doing them forever if you’d like. Definitely a HUGE return on investment to shell out $59 – $200 for something like P90X, P90X2, Insanity, Les Mills Pump, Power 90, or Chalean Extreme.
What about equipment? If you choose a workout that requires additional equipment (like P90X, X2, Power 90, or Chalean Extreme), you’ll need to budget that. Pullup bars are great, and don’t cost a whole lot. Dumbbells can be pretty pricey. One alternative to dumbbells is to use resistance bands. They will be cheaper. You can usually find good band sets at a local sporting goods store. I don’t personally like them as well as weights. Adjustable dumbbells are my personal favorite, but they are also the most expensive. Bowflex offers sales every 3 or 4 months, so I’ve always ordered mine when they go on sale. They are usually about $260 with free shipping for a set of 2 of the 552s when they are on sale. Life Smart also makes adjustable dumbbells for about $200, which are available at some local sporting goods stores. If that’s outside your budget, a great place to watch is Craigs List. Quite often you will find someone looking to unload a set of dumbbells that they don’t use anymore, and you can get a collection that way.
One piece of equipment that everyone recommends to buy and is a total slam dunk in the “bang for buck” category is a set of body fat calipers. We all get so worried about our weight on the scale, but what we are really interested in is how our body composition is changing (how much lean muscle we have vs. how much flabby body fat we have). A set of calipers is super cheap ($10-$15 on Amazon) and it will give you an accurate way to monitor your progress and get you off that dumb scale! I plan to splurged on the $15 pair that has a spring in it so that you know it’s squeezing the exact right amount. Money well spent.
You can also get creative and make your own “equipment” for some things. You can put heavy stuff in a backpack for a poor man’s weighted vest. You can loop a resistance band over your pullup bar to assist yourself if you can’t afford the chin up max. I used an old plumbing pipe I had and some 2X4s to make a pullup bar in my workshop. (see Build a Home Gym http://gooburner.com/motivation/build-a-home-gym/ )
Then, of course, if you simply can’t afford any additional equipment, consider going with a workout program like Insanity that uses no weights or pullups. While I prefer resistance based workouts, Insanity will definitely still help you shed body fat, learn to eat right, and get your body on the road to getting ripped.
Second, let’s talk nutrition (food) =
If you need to shed a lot of body fat, you’ll need to be on a fat shredder diet, and foods high in protein can cost a lot. There is no way around that. The most affordable options will be large bags of frozen chicken, bulk protein powders, eggs (which you can use the whites from), and canned meats like tuna.
These more expensive protein sources can definitely be mediated with some wise shopping, bulk purchasing, and with saving money on complex carbs which can be very cheap. You eat a lot of oatmeal, brown rice, and black beans. Those are all super cheap. You can also eat the cheaper forms of fruits and veggies (mostly apples and carrots) for snacks. Since I use Shakeology, I don’t have to worry about buying a wide variety of berries, rare veggies, etc. to get the necessary nutrition in my diet. That enables me to keep my diet fairly cheap and simple.
And then of course I use Shakeology. While this is a big expense, it makes up for itself by the fact that I can save in all other areas of my food budget since I know that I start each day by giving my body everything it needs. It takes all the guess work out.
Oh, and guess what I’ve found. This will blow you away! Nearly all of you reading this have access to water that is TOTALLY FREE! Shocking, huh? I can literally drink as much water as I can stand without spending a dime! The easiest way to cut several bucks from your daily nutrition bill is to stop right now with pop, tea, coffee, milk, juice, etc. Why spend money on stuff to drink? It’s a waste! Drink water! I can’t tell you how much this has saved me to go from several diet cokes per day (my old habit) to water.
And if you aren’t convinced that you can “afford to eat healthy”, my question to you is “How can you afford NOT TO?” Read this!
Last, let’s talk supplements =
Everyone gets nervous about supplements because when they start working out, it looks like a huge added expense to incorporate supplements into their diet. I’ve used many, and I’ve also gone for long stretches with no supplements (unless you count Shakeology and Whey protein as a supplement — I put them in the nutrition category though since they are FOOD).
Realistically, you can get by without any supplements. If you are hitting all your daily nutritional needs with your diet, some whey protein, and Shakeology, you won’t need anything else to get awesome results and be incredibly healthy. I have done this myself.
You can use Shakeology as a recovery drink (which I’ve done), or you can make one yourself out of some whey protein and a banana. I really like using the P90X Results / Recovery formula, but it’s not essential if it doesn’t fit your budget.
Multivitamins aren’t necessary if you use Shakeology. That puts some money back in your pocket.
Fish oils are good, but if you eat some fish (tilapia, tuna, salmon) in your weekly diet you will get the needed omegas without supplementing.
Creatine, while cheap, isn’t mandatory. It definitely has some benefits for muscle building, but again it’s not a MUST to get great results.
Pre-workouts are fun for that added boost of energy, but I’ve gone months without using one and do just fine.
If your budget is tight, don’t do any supplements. Spend instead on great nutrition, including lean protein sources, affordable complex carbs, simple fruits and veggies, whey protein, and Shakeology. That’s all you need.
If you have a bigger budget, get some of the others. I use R/R formula, a pre-workout and creatine myself.
What ideas do you all have for saving some Money on fitness, equipment, food, or supplements?