How to get fit on a budget


Published on

Gym fees can set you back around $90 each month - money that plenty of us could use elsewhere right now.

We've pulled together seven ideas to get fit, and stay in shape, for next to nothing.

1. Join a walking club

seven ways to get fit on a budget bushwalking parkrun home gym

Nine out of 10 Australians could reduce their risk of heart disease by walking as little as 15 minutes more each day.

The Heart Foundation makes it easy to notch up extra steps with over 1,000 walking groups listed on its website.

They're free to join, and many are pram-friendly or dog-friendly.

2. Head out for a hike

If you're keen to dial up the intensity, consider bushwalking.

Australia has more than 600 national parks, many in metropolitan areas, making it easy to find a hiking trail.

For serious 'off trail' hiking, think about joining a bushwalking group.

Annual membership fees can be as little as $35 per person or $40 per household.

3. Try a team run

It costs nothing to head out for a jog either alone or with a friend.

If you like the motivation of running as part of a team, Google running groups in your area. Many hold competitions that let you pit your paces against others.

Clubs like Sydney Striders have membership fees of around $70 annually for singles.

Or check out your local parkrun. The free, timed 5k events are held each Saturday morning in more than 475 locations around Australia.

4. Take a free dip

Ocean pools go by many names - seawater pools, tidal pools, even ocean beach enclosures.

The common thread is that they all offer a brisk dip at no charge.

Add a social element by joining one of Australia's many ocean pool swimming clubs. Some are free to join, others charge an annual membership fee.

5. Embrace pedal power

Cycling offers more than exercise. A bike can also be a budget-friendly mode of transport.

Melbourne university student, Kate, has been pedalling her way around the city for 18 months. She paid $110 for a secondhand bike (the seller threw in a helmet for free), and added a security chain and lights for an extra $40.

Kate rides her bike to uni four days each week - an hour-long return journey that saves $24 in weekly bus fares, or about $1,200 annually.

With four hours of cycling under her belt each week Kate doesn't feel the need to work out. The sweetener is that "city traffic is so heavy it takes me less time to ride to uni than taking the bus."

6. Bring the gym to you

Last year my teenage son developed an interest in bodybuilding. Would I pay $70 a month for gym fees? No. Could he use birthday money to buy a bench press? Yes.

We shopped around to compare prices, then shopped around again for quality pre-loved equipment, eventually settling on a bench press and squat bar costing $150 (a saving of $170 over new).

Since then, he's added a punching bag plus various weights, all picked up from garage sales for a fraction of the as-new price.

Yes, our spare room resembles a Mr Olympia man cave but following the initial investment each workout costs zip.

7. Use housework to whittle your middle

If you're seriously strapped for cash, housework can be just as effective as a power walk when it comes to burning calories.

The Heart Foundation says household chores such as washing windows are in the same 'moderate intensity' league as brisk walking and golf.

So, put away the robotic vacuum cleaner, grab a mop and bucket, and enjoy a decent workout plus a spruced up home. Winning!

Get stories like this in our newsletters.

Related Stories

A former Chartered Accountant, Nicola Field has been a regular contributor to Money for 20 years, and writes on personal finance issues for some of Australia's largest financial institutions. She is the author of Investing in Your Child's Future and Baby or Bust, and has collaborated with Paul Clitheroe on a variety of projects including radio scripts, newspaper columns, and several books.
Justine Bourke
June 26, 2023 12.15pm

Bushwalking/Hiking is budget friendly - Thanks Nicola! So glad you mentioned us! We certainly offer low cost amazing adventures for all ages all across Australia. Just look for your local bushwalking club on our websites around the country:


VIC: https://bushwalkingvictoria.or...



TAS: https://www.bushwalkingaustral...

QLD: https://www.bushwalkingqueensl...

NT: https://www.bushwalkingaustral...

Money magazine
June 26, 2023 12.56pm

Thanks for the extra information, Justine!