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Another barrier a lot of people put in their way regarding getting active is cost. Gym memberships are expensive, contractual, and full of hidden fees. Personal training seems too expensive to use for any length of time.
With that in mind I’m going to put together a list of beginner-friendly activities that are either free or as low-cost as I can find them!
First up is the obvious one, walking or running, depending on your ability and how much of a cardio emphasis you are looking for.
We’re based in Scotland’s capital Edinburgh, and you really are spoilt for choice for places to go ambling.
A couple of local websites even compile some ‘best of’ lists, complete with stunning photos.
The bruntsfield post
10 walks in and around Edinburgh
Getting out in the fresh air is not only great for your mental health, but it’s also totally free! Some locations may require a drive to get to if you’re going further afield, but there should be plenty wholly within walking distance.
Next up on our list of options are some resistance-based things you can do at home, or out and about. Body weight exercises, or callisthenics if you want Google to think you’re fancy, are another totally free option for exercise. All you need is your body and some creativity.
If you want some super basic ideas around the home, we just recently put together an at-home workout for total beginners.
An easy at home workout
If you want to you can combine these with option one, and whilst out on your walk or jog mix in some bodyweight exercises to break up the cardio, or just where opportunity presents itself. Doing a set of incline pushups leaning on a granite boulder, or up the top of Corstorphine Hill with a picturesque view of the city just feels so much cooler than doing them on your sofa.
Our third option is I suppose a branch of callisthenics, though I’m sure there’s some technical difference I’m missing out on that’ll get me skewered in the comments, yoga is another great option for cost-effective exercise for beginners.
Yes, I know that yoga classes and studio memberships cost money, however, there is a huge wealth of free video instruction out there on Youtube, don’t worry I’ll do the leg work for you!
10-minute morning yoga session.
A 30-minute, longer session with an apathetic-looking dog.
Another 10-minute one with a dog in the background
You can tell what youtube thumbnails work on me the most…
Lastly, my personal favourite, and so far the only option on the list that actually costs money.
That is making a sandbag for some at-home resistance training.
You’ll need a duffle sack: £15 +delivery.
You line the duffle with either some rubble sacks £5/ 80p per sack
Or my preference is some empty dog food bags, which are free.
You then fill the sack up with pea gravel from your favourite home goods store.
Which comes in at £4 per 25kg, obviously buy as much as you want your bag to weigh.
Or just go to your nearest beach and borrow some sand, which is free, but potentially morally dubious. (You can put it back later don’t worry).
Then cable tie and duct tape the bag you are lining the duffle with shut, and repeat the cable tie and tape to shut the duffle bag. There you have it, a changeable loaded implement to workout with at home for less than a month’s gym membership at all bar the most budget gyms.
Easy to store, and very easy to dismantle and get rid of if you ever need to. Amazingly versatile, you can do pretty much any movement you can think of with a sandbag, and the best part is it’s almost always more challenging than the fixed bar variations, since the sand moves and slides around inside the bag, forcing you to stabilise it a lot more.
I think I might actually do a whole post just on how to utilise the full potential of homemade sandbags. I really do believe they’re one of the most underrated bits of kit out there. As well as the cheapest.