No Gym Membership Required: How I Keep Fit For $0.09 Per Day.

I live in a city now, but where I grew up I didn’t have access to a gym that wasn’t more than 20 minutes away…so it may come to no surprise to anyone that I don’t remember working out indoors on very many occasions. I did, however, spend most of my childhood outdoors playing on the playground.

When I moved to a “city” to start undergrad, there was a required gym membership that all students had to pay that equated to just over $50/month. Even when I had already paid for it, I didn’t care to use it all too often because working out indoors never really did it for me…I went through spurts where I used the gym religiously (because I was otherwise just throwing $50 into a fire each month), and like most people–I stopped going once life got too busy. Like my childhood where I spent most of my time outside, I discovered that I liked to exercise outdoors more. Plus, not having a gym membership is fairly FI (financial independence) so as long as you can be creative in your outdoor activities.

I fell in love with jogging in 2011, though I hesitate to call it “running” because I averaged about twelve minutes a mile. I loved it though because it allowed me to be outdoors and explore my new-to-me city at the same time. My favorite run involved going across a bridge with a view of a beautiful river–especially at sunset. By the end of 2014, I had just finished my second half marathon and my body was DONE with the stress of longer distance running (or any running really). I’m naturally a heel striker when I walk, and that was even harder on my body when I was running. My left foot and IT band were always hurting and I was sad when I realized I had to give up something I loved or risk further injury.

Here’s Where I Get to the Point

Around the time I stopped running, a good friend introduced me to something I hadn’t done since I was a little kid… hula hooping. I borrowed her hoop to give it a spin (lol pun) and didn’t realize how much I would fall in love with it. This wasn’t just your average hula hoop, this was a weighted hoop designed for building thigh muscles and engaging your core. Because it’s weighted, it means that I didn’t have to spin it as quickly to keep it from falling, which is good since I wasn’t very coordinated when I got started. It was also a really low-impact exercise and didn’t put a strain on my left foot or knee, and turned out to be a much needed substitute for my running.

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The Empower Hula Hoop was where I got started, and quite honestly, my hoops are the the only workout gear I need to own. Although a good pair of shoes is important for any exercise, I prefer to be barefoot to connect with nature whenever possible. It takes me back to those days in my childhood where I spent hours and hours outside, being mindful of the present moment. All I do is put my headphones on, face the sun, close my eyes, and move. I’ve officially hit the point where I’ve hooped longer than I was a runner. I identify with hooping now and it’s hands-down my favorite self-care activity.

Hula hooping burns around 600 calories an hour (or five calories for each MINUTE). Although when you’re starting, you should probably begin with only five minutes a few days per week. The weight of the hoop can cause some tenderness and slight bruising at first, but once your body gets used to it, that goes away–and then you can up your time or weight of the hoop. I moved from the 1-pound hoop to the 3-pound hoop after about a year, and it’s significantly more challenging.

Hooping has allowed me to reconnect with my inner-child because I have fun seeing how fast I can make the hoop go, how far I can walk while keeping it spinning, and how long I can keep it going. I do 30 minutes most weekdays and 45 minutes on the weekend, and on the days where I can’t go outside–I hoop in my living room while catching up on my shows.

I even reached the point where I can keep two weighted hoops going at once. That’s 4-pounds of PCP pipe.

All in all, I’d say this is a fairly FI-friendly purchase. I’ve been hooping for five years now and have only needed to replace a hoop once (and that’s only because I’m an outdoor hooper and it got pretty gross). The closest gyms to me range from about $40-$70 per month, and the cheaper gyms are too inconvenient to drive to (considering my regular commute is less than 10 minutes from home). Had I maintained a gym membership over the last five years, I’d have minimally spent $2400. I’m all for people having a gym membership if they’re using it, but for me, it was not something I wanted to keep in my budget. Instead, with the love of my hoop I only spent $~35. And that’s how I’m able to keep fit for $0.09 per day…after the first year, that number moves down to $0 a day.

What’s your favorite frugal exercise? Have you found any gym membership hacks? Let me know in the comments–I’d love to hear about some other exercises and activities you’ve done that help you stay healthy.

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