October 20, 2017

Confessions of a Running Mom: 5 Frugal Fitness Tips


Can I tell you a secret?

I hated running as a child. Okay, that’s not much of a secret…in fact anyone who knew me then, could tell you that. But growing up I hated any form of exercising, and running most of all, so much that I actually lied to get out of it!

Yes. I lied. Isn’t that awful? I’m so embarrassed to say that. But God treated me with such gentle and hilarious grace.

Let me explain:

In a college aerobics class, we were required to run a mile at the beginning and end of the semester to check our aerobic improvement. I signed up to take aerobics because it didn’t involve running, then the instructor pulls that on me? Ugh-I was so frustrated and really did not want to run around the school coliseum.

My fast and, more importantly, sympathetic roommate was also in the class. She actually agreed to run my lap for me, and turn in my name card when she finished. It wasn’t that simple though. I had to start the lap, and my roommate would meet me around the corner, out of our instructor’s view, to take over my run. Well, she took over, and I was left standing there without a way home…I couldn’t go back-my instructor was waiting by the door. Hmmm, we hadn’t thought this plan through. I had to find another way out of the coliseum. Well, the route I found back to my on-campus apartment ended up being a 3 mile hike! My roommate actually beat me home! I came home sweaty, tired and even more frustrated.

It wasn’t until I married my husband a few years later that I gave running a fair shot.

My husband found a really do-able beginning running plan, and on my birthday the year we were married, I tried it. After sticking with the plan for a few weeks, I was hooked. I’ve come to love all of exercise’s benefits -the energy, weight loss and maintenance and a healthy attitude (it’s great for warding off mild depression)! I’ve also learned how to keep it a priority in my life, without spending unnecessarily.

Whatever your sport, here are some ways to keep fitness a priority without knocking the budget out of balance:

1. Take a walk!

One mom I know begins every day with taking her boys around the neighborhood. Isn’t that a great way to start the day-and a great thing to do with you kids?

2. Don’t have a gym membership?

Me neither. Scour Craigslist, Kijiji, Freecycle, thrift stores and garage sales for used equipment and workout DVDs. A few years ago, we bought a commercial-grade treadmill off Craigslist for $200. It was only 2 years old, and the owners were moving and didn’t want to take it with them. Don’t forget to sell your unused equipment, too!


3. Oh, you do have a gym membership?

Lucky you! Want to pay less? Talk to the gym manager about changing your plan. Gyms must be flexible to keep their members.

4. Find local clubs.

Many communities have cycling, swimming, and running clubs, just to name a few. We love our local running club! It’s similar to a Road Runners Club. Often, clubs like these offer free training group runs (at every level-even walkers!).

5. Take advantage of where your taxes go.

Your local library and recreation centers. The library has a wealth of workout DVD’s and books on new sports. Rec centers are also great places to try a new activity for a lower fee than gyms and health clubs. And don’t forget public schools-many have outdoor tracks perfect for a summer evening stroll!

6. Your turn. How do you keep active on a budget? Do share!

Kristen, from Pajama Mama,


  1. Bama Girl in AZ says:

    I just wanted to say thanks for posting this! I have certainly been "off the wagon" lately. I ran a 1/2 marathon in January, but boy I have not done much since. I am remotivated. Thanks! I am fortunate to work for a company that pays our gym membership!


  2. Amanda @ Serenity Now says:

    Great guest post!! Thank you for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚ If anyone was going to lie about running, it would be ME. I hate running with a passion. This is unfortunate, as my sister has a hair-brained idea that we can run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in March. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I loved your ideas. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Kimberly Eddy says:

    This was a great post, and I thank you for sharing!!!

    My big frugal fitness tip as I break free from obesity (getting close to having the O word taken off my med records. woo hoo) is to do things the hard way whenever time allows me to. I always say that if you are too out of shape to go up your stairs without being winded you don't need a gym membership; you need to climb your own stairs more often.

    I hang my laundry out whenever possible (in an energetic manner…sort of like the wax on wax off concept from Karate Kid), I park in the back of all parking lots (did you know you can walk 1.5 miles just doing that each time you shop??), and I sometimes make multiple trips up and down my stairs. From there, I got into enough shape to do a Pilates video ;). I am recovering from extensive shoulder surgery, so I'm back to rebuilding my fitness level…but that's what's worked for me.

    Also, blogging/tweeting about my fitness (or lack thereof) is a great motivator!


  4. This was a great posts with lots of ideas. I especially liked the link to the running plan. The hubby and I have started talking about running. I am not a runner and that sounds like a great plan!


  5. Candy-Faith..... from Simply Pretty says:

    Hi ๐Ÿ™‚
    I was blog hopping and came across your blog and thought Id say HI ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. Marie Castro says:

    Fantastic post! Thanks a bunch for these frugal tips. With fitness comes proper diet. Eat the right kind of stuff and you'll surely see the results.


  7. Jennifer says:

    Even though I have pretty much always been a runner – track and cross country throughout middle/high school and every year since (except the winters – I take those off), I am now finding getting out there harder than I used to. At 36, I feel pretty good, but now "hitting the pavement" feels just like it. If I weren't such an impatient person, I think I could love walking, but I love getting an intense workout in just 30 minutes. Great, motivating post!



  8. Good ideas here. Walking is my best bet. It's free and has become my time to regroup and enjoy nature. Every time I walk a certain area I do a long series of lunges. They're the best lower body workout I've found plus give me a good cardio workout.

    This is my first comment here, although I've been enjoying your place here for some time. Nice to meet you…Angie


  9. I love this post! I totally agree, I used to hate running-that's changed and now I confidently call myself a "runner". Other than the shoes, it's the cheapest form of therapy I know! Our local parks district also has weight rooms and equipement that you can use per hour. It's a great alternative in the winter- only 3 dollars an hour!

    Thanks for sharing these other great tips!


  10. Tutta la Storia says:

    Great guest post! I have had runner's knee for 10+ years and had knee surgery a few years ago, so I don't run too much, but I do try to add short bursts of interval running when I walk. We have a great 20+ mile trail in my area called the Airline Rail Trail and I get the kids out in the jogging stroller a couple of times a week, and use the treadmill on other days (also a hand me down!)


  11. An Accomplished Woman says:

    That was a great post…. maybe the Lord is knocking on my door too. Thanks for the guest posting and Jen, thanks for introducing her to the rest of us.



  12. The Mangerchine's says:

    Fortunately as part of my husband's benefits and insurance from his employer they pay our gym membership directly each month and it never costs us a penny! We workout 5 days a week with some cardio and weight lifting. Then on Saturdays I meet my Pastor's wife and another friend for a jog/ walk around our 1.8 mile park. It's so much fun to be able to exercise and catch up with my girls all at the same time!


  13. Little Debi P says:

    Enjoyed this post! 2 years ago when I could barely stand myself any longer and didn't have money in our budget for a gym membership or 2nd hand fitness equipment, God opened the door at our church. (He spoils me like that!) We began a women's fitness program that only cost $20 for 12 weeks of classes. I FOUND the $20 and now 2 years later, I lead classes in the same program! My tip: check out local churches–many in our area offer similar programs and some are even FREE!


  14. I have been running weekly for about 6 months. I would rather spend my money on a good pair of running shoes than a gym membership any day!


  15. Jennifer says:

    Well I either run or walk almost every day. Running can be done anywhere with only a pair of tennis shoes. Can't get more convenient than that.


  16. CoachTief says:

    The ultimate in frugality is to get paid to run. I coach high school Cross Country. This is one of the rare sports where you actually get to workout with your athletes. I always run the distance runs with the kids. I know coaching isn't a job that most people can do, but I'm a teacher. I'm helping the school district, the kids that join CC, and myself.


  17. The Scooper says:

    I agree that running is some of the cheapest therapy around. I often hate to start something new for fear I'll fall off the wagon and feel even worse about myself. But I've found that feeling good is the best motivation for consistency. Right now I run 3 times a week…and how I feel when I'm done is what keeps me going. I'm on a crazy tight budget but a good pair of running shoes is worth every penny. My husband just bought me some for Mother's Day. If you're new to running, a real running store will get you fixed up with the perfect pair of shoes for your specific needs. It's totally worth the few extra dollars you'll spend.


  18. Maree Eichmann says:

    My friend and I have started a bit of a mums group once a week. We use workouts we’ve found on pinterest and try them out at the park. We use one for a few weeks and then try another one to change it up a bit. All I need is the petrol which isn’t much and we have a fun little workout and get to catch up at the same time with the kids playing together.


    Jen Reply:

    No way! I LOVE that idea, MAree! That is such a GREAT idea!


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