The future of the fitness industry has to be affordable.
To add to the already overwhelming financial crisis, the head of energy regulator Ofgem has just announced that that annual bills will likely rise by at least another £800 before the end of the year. At a time when many people are already struggling to afford the rising cost of food and rent, these extra price hikes mean we will have to further scrimp on other aspects of our life.
According to Lloyds Bank, over 1.2 million subscription payments have been cancelled since last summer due to the cost of living crisis. It’s not just little luxuries that we’re giving up, but we’re also having to stop spending on things we would have previously dubbed essential for our mental and physical health, such as gym memberships or health subscriptions.
The wellbeing industry is stereotypically expensive, and people have long felt priced out of health. But now, more than ever, we’re having to find ways to support our mind and body with movement that costs less – or nothing at all.
To find ways to make fitness more affordable, we asked people on social media for their tips — and found some very useful advice.
Head back to home workouts
“I’m planning on cancelling my gym membership so I can embrace home workouts. I think it’ll help me train better and I’d be more disciplined since I’ll have no one but myself to motivate me,” says Brenda Patrick.
For those who invested in their kit during lockdown, now is the time to blow off the cobwebs. “I spent a lot of money building my own gym during lockdown while I wasn’t going out spending. It’s going to become a real money saver long term,” says Dr David Honeywell. You don’t need to carve your entire garage into an iron room, but know you can do a lot with a pair of dumbbells and some resistance bands.
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“I now only spend money on self-care”
“I’ve quit my gym membership in favour of home workouts. I’m just as motivated to do HIIT and strength stuff at home as I am in the gym – maybe even more so as I can go as hard as I like without feeling judged. I’ve swapped that for investing in a MoreYoga membership that I couldn’t have afforded alongside the gym, but right now I’d rather spend money on the self-care and relaxing hobbies that I’m historically bad at prioritising but feel more benefit from,” says Annie Johnstone.
Sign up for challenges
Rather than spending £50 a month on a membership, Bronte Culleton suggests signing up to challenges every few months. A half-marathon entry fee is usually under £60 – about the same price as many people pay monthly for a gym – but “I’m actually much more motivated to train for an event than I am when I’m just booking expensive classes online”.
“I think my gym fee is probably my only non-negotiable, but I also have an online PT/class subscription that I may have to cancel just to save something,” says Natalie Corner.
Simone Maria agrees, saying: “I gave up a weekly ballet class I was attending as an active recovery day to do free YouTube yoga at home instead, because as much fun as it was, £85 a month is basically a week and a half’s worth of groceries.”
Join free clubs
“Our run club is free, so I don’t think we could save more ([but] we could ditch the pub afterwards),” says Deb Todd.
Joanne Dewberry adds that she “started running in January with my partner. We go to Park Run every Saturday which is a timed free 5k and we go to a local running club two times a week, [which is] also free. I think there are a lot of free exercise communities out there.”
Ditch the supplements
“I used to buy expensive protein powders, pre-workouts and other supplements that promised to help my fitness, but now the thought of spending hefty sums on things that I’m not even sure work isn’t an option,” says Juliette Wall.
For a simple swap, you can make like Megan Capstick: “I’ve swapped pre-workout (that I took because I liked the taste) for a regular instant coffee. It’s not as nice, but I still get a good caffeinated buzz before the gym without spending extra.”
“I share a membership”
Alice Fuller* tells me she shares a gym membership with her housemate. As they both attend at different times, no one has ever noticed the same name being used multiple times a day (or if they have, they’ve just assumed that she’s a fanatic). This is obviously against company policy but shows that taking matters into our own hands is more necessary than ever.
Don’t buy into trends
Kat Brown says she is “being very restrained on whether I actually need a summer pair of leggings rather than just sucking it up and wearing the winter pair I only bought a few months ago. I also have saved searches on eBay for specific sizes and types of secondhand workout clothes: being very tall, I need to get it right otherwise a secondhand bargain just ends up being another money fail.”
Pay in advance
“For the things I cannot budge on, like a physio and a personal trainer I visit once a week before my hip operation, I pay for 20 sessions in advance which cuts the price in half, and have a pot set up in my Monzo banking app so I’m saving towards the next 20,” says Brown.
Don’t beat yourself up
A final point from the Strong Woman team – you should never feel guilty for spending on your health, especially when it improves the quality of your life, reduces pain and increases happiness. If you’d rather save money in other aspects of your life while keeping your gym membership, that’s fine. But remember that things don’t have to be fancy to be good for you.
Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).