Frugal Ways to Exercise Without Joining a Gym

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NOTE: This article was written by Kris, the founder and previous owner of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. 

One of the biggest obstacles to losing weight for many people is the lack of finances for joining a gym. Here’s my harsh comment for the day: That’s not so much an obstacle as an excuse.


While I am blessed to have the space and the equipment – acquired slowly over the course of several years for the most part – to have a home gym, that isn’t necessary to successfully lose weight. You know I think is the very, most basic piece of equipment needed to successfully lose weight? Your body.

Yep, trainers everywhere will tell you that using your own body weight is all you really need to get in a good workout. What can you do with just your body weight?

  • Walk/run
  • Climb stairs
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Crunches/sit-ups
  • Planks
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Leg lifts
  • Donkey kicks
  • Triceps Dips

And, though just a few of the possibilities, that list provides a full-body workout, including cardio.

If you’ve got limited space and/or money, a few inexpensive pieces of equipment can provide some great frugal ways to exercise without joining a gym. My suggestions are:

Stability Ball. Adding a stability ball to your ab workout can take some of the strain off your back, while providing a greater range of motion and calling on more core muscles to stabilize yourself. You can also add it to a wall squat workout for more versatility. If you have some hand-weights, you can do your arm workout while sitting on the ball, which keeps your core muscles engaged.

Jump Rope. Jump ropes aren’t just for kids. Boxers use them to enhance their coordination and agility. They also know it’s an incredible cardiovascular workout. Jumping rope for 15-20 burns as many calories as running an 8-minute mile! You can’t find a better total body workout with a piece of equipment that requires almost no storage space and costs less than $20.

Dumbbells. Dumbbells can be expensive, but they aren’t too bad if you’re buying those 10 pounds or under. You can often find great deals on used dumbbells, as well. They offer an incredible number of possibilities. The most obvious use is for a great upper body workout, but you can also use them to enhance your lower body workout by holding them in your hands as you do squat and lunges, or holding them on your leg as you’re doing leg or knee raises.


Workout DVDs. You can often find workout DVDs free at the library. You can try them out and go buy the ones you like or you can just keep checking them out from the library to keep your routine fresh. I’ve posted before about some of my favorites.

Resistance Bands. Available in many different sizes and resistance strengths, resistance bands offer a wide variety of workout options for both the upper and lower body.

Of course, if you’ve got the room and some money to spend, my one must-have piece of home gym equipment would be, as I’ve said before, my treadmill.

What low-cost workout options have you found to be effective?

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Not very low cost but cheaper than a gym membership is the Wii Fit. I love mine. I have lost 26 lbs. so far. I have both the Biggest Loser and the Biggest Loser Challenge for the Wii also. I am not fit enough to use them yet though, but I am working on it.

  2. I do have a gym membership, but my #1 most valuable piece of at home equipment are my kettlebells! I have three of them and two DVD's. I *love* them. They offer great full body workouts and they aren't too expensive and are easy to store. Love, love, love my kettlebells!!!

  3. Stability balls are an excellent investment! I've used them for core exercises, as a birthing ball (don't worry…that one's gone now), and most effectively as an activity to keep a wiggly ten year old occupied while we are having family reading time!

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