A recent study showed that Brits waste £4 billion a year on unused gym memberships – with half of those who have one not attending regularly. And, I have to admit that I’d be one of them if I had a membership. For the last few years, I’ve really focussed on getting regular exercise and keeping my body healthy but I know that attending a gym wouldn’t work for me.
Not only are they expensive but I’d resent the time taken to travel to one – I get very little free time and could be using that half an hour to actually exercise. I also like to work out first thing and, with two children and a love of sleep, there’s no way I’d ever actually make it to a gym!
If you’re trying to make cutbacks, or are restricted by childcare, then I’d recommend ditching the expensive gym memberships and finding something else that suits you. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to keep in shape at home; saving time and money…
Embrace the outdoors
For the last few years I’ve been running a couple of times a week and my fitness has improved vastly. I love the feeling of putting my body through its paces and the great thing about running is that it doesn’t require any equipment; you can do it anywhere and no time is wasted as you can get going from your front door – you’ll just need some running shoes to get started. Being outside is good for our mental health and well-being too – running is a great way to clear your head.
If you want something more easily done with the kids in tow, cycling is also a great way to get some exercise and fresh air. Small children can go on the back of your bike; making this a good way for parents to exercise without needing childcare. And, older children can take part on their own bikes and improve their fitness too. My kids adore cycling and it’s a fun way to get out and about exploring the local area. Plus, once you have your bikes, you can use them whenever you like without spending another penny.
Enjoy online classes
During lockdown we started to use our daily exercise time with the children and our dog, so we were taking long walks every day, but I felt like I really needed a cardio work too. I turned to You Tube and came across the Pop Sugar Fitness channel; I danced my whole childhood and teen years so I particularly love their cardio dance workouts.
I discovered a whole world of online fitness classes that I’d never really thought about before. After just running for so long, a shake up has done wonders for my enthusiasm and motivation too. Twice a week I get up, do one of their workout routines in my PJs and then hop into the shower. My body feels strong and toned, and mentally I feel great after a workout. With online classes, you get the feel of an exercise class without having to leave the house nor spend out; it offers the ultimate flexibility and control for busy parents.
The internet is so vast that there’s something to suit everyone – dance, HIIT, circuits, yoga; all just a click away.
Get some equipment
If you’re a fan of the equipment at the gym, it may be worth investing in a few pieces for your home. Once you have what you need, after an initial spend, you’ll be able to exercise without the monthly spend that comes with a gym membership. Plus, setting up at home need not cost the earth and, if you usually pay a monthly membership, you’ll definitely see good long term savings.
Fortunately, exercise equipment is the sort of thing that people often buy and never use, so it’s an easy thing to pick up cheaply second-hand. Have a look on social media selling pages, or websites such as eBay or Preloved to see what’s available locally. And, smaller items like weights and exercise balls can be found cheaply on Amazon. As a parent, free time can be hard to come by, so having what you need at home could mean you’re more likely to stay in shape.
Clean the house
The good news is that doing the housework is also great exercise; cleaning up can actually burn some serious calories! Chores such as hoovering, dusting and tidying up can burn up to 190 calories per hour! And, our houses will benefit as much as our bodies do. So, if you’ve got a million chores to do, skip the workout that day and clean instead for a win, win.
You could also fit some extra exercise into your usual cleaning routine, for instance: squatting while dusting, lunging while hoovering, or simply picking up the pace when you go up and down the stairs. As parents we’re so busy and free time can be hard to find, so consider jazzing up the chores to get a good workout whilst going about your usual day.