With summer on its way, the thoughts of many turn to looking and feeling their best.
For some, this means being able to fit into a favourite swimsuit. But more importantly, getting fit for summer can give you more energy, more confidence and boost your overall health.
It is not unusual for people to spend thousands of dollars per year to keep fit.
However, a 2018 study by comparison site mozo.com.au found while many Australians have good intentions to get into shape, they often do not realise they could be left out of pocket if their enthusiasm for fitness runs short or if they do not research the upfront costs involved beforehand.
The site crunched the numbers on ongoing and upfront costs associated with 20 of the nation’s most popular fitness activities.
It found for those who do spend money on fitness, an online fitness app was amongst the most wallet-friendly ways to get fit, with a yearly cost of $268.
“Mozo’s cost comparison found fitness apps like Sweat with Kayla by Kayla Itsines offer the best bang for your buck when it comes to getting in shape,” Mozo director Kirsty Lamont said.
“Unlike many of the other fitness activities we looked at, using an app involves very little upfront costs with a medicine ball, skipping rope and pair of weights enough to kick off your 2018 fitness goals,” she said.
“Apps can be a great tool for fitness hopefuls craving a little structure and motivation but (who) can’t afford to shell out for pricey personal training sessions or group classes.”
Rowing was the second thriftiest fitness activity in 2018, according to the study, with a club membership and rowing apparel coming in at $560 for the year – just over $10 per week.
Hiking ranked third in the value stakes, costing $600 over the coming year.
“Equipment like tents, lighting and backpacks was found to be the biggest cost when it comes to hiking. A single national parks pass can cost as little as $22 a year – and entry into some national parks around Australia is free,” Ms Lamont said.
CrossFit took the top spot as the most expensive fitness activity for 2018, with yearly costs topping $3016.
The second most expensive was the increasingly popular Barre, a workout combining yoga, Pilates and ballet, with a total yearly cost of $2600, while outdoor group training rounded out the top three with two sessions a week setting fitness fans back $2444 a year.
Ms Lamont recommended those thinking of trying something new should find alternative ways to slash upfront costs in case they find they do not like the activity or cannot commit to it.
“For instance, before sinking hundreds of dollars into a new surfboard and wetsuit, check to see if you can borrow from friends or buy secondhand on Gumtree until you find out whether surfing is something you want to pursue,” she said.
But it was important to remember getting fit need not blow the budget, and there are plenty of activities that might require a bit more self-motivation but that definitely are a lot cheaper than organised, paid activities, including using free outdoor gyms, starting a running group with family and friends. Even just walking or jogging with your dog does not cost anything at all but could be just as effective.
Meanwhile for many, summer would not be summer in Australia without a healthy dose of aquatic activity, whether it be in the backyard pool or the beach.
Recreational swimming provides a wonderful low-impact workout because of the need to move your whole body against the resistance of the water, and it is an ideal way to relax and feel good. Swimming offers many health benefits, according to Swimming Australia, which include that it:
- keeps your heart rate up but takes some of the impact stress off your body
- builds endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness
- helps maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs
- tones muscles and builds strength
Tips for inexpensive and free ways to get fit
- Train for free at a local park with an outdoor gym which have a range of equipment from cross trainers to leg presses
- Watch fitness videos on YouTube, which can be a great source of diet tips and workout plans
- Start a running club with family or friends. If you can’t find a couple of committed people, join park run who organise free, weekly 5km runs over Australia for all fitness types
- Play free sports like an impromptu soccer game at the local oval or hit up the tennis courts
- Rediscover your childhood by dragging your old bicycle out of the back shed and exploring your neighbourhood and local parks