Shape Up: The Get Fit Guide for the Girl on a Budget


Living in LA, it is easy to get caught up in the latest health trends that come and go by the minute. And not only is it hard to stay up with these trends, it can be difficult to shell out the funds for them as well. Gym memberships, yoga studios, juice cleanses, eating organic—none of it is free (let alone cheap!). It’s fun to try out new diet and exercise fads as they come along, but eventually it will start to add up. Today I will be sharing a few wallet-friendly tricks that will help you to save money and stay in shape. Here is my quick guide for staying fit on a budget…

1. Start training.
Sign up for a 5k race, a half marathon, or, if you’re really serious, a marathon. It will give you a reason to get outside and run—which is free! Even better—choose a race that donates it’s proceeds to charity and you will be running for a great cause. If you can’t afford the entry fee, reach out to friends and family for donations to help sponsor you. You will be getting in shape and spread good karma at the same time.

2. Watch workout DVDs.
This trick may not be new, but it sure it a great bang for your buck. The best thing about a set of workout DVDs is once you buy them, you have basically invested in a 24-hour gym in your very own home. You might need to pick up a few free weights and a yoga mat, but it’s well worth it. Try watching DVDs from Jillian Michaels or Tracy Anderson. And don’t forget about our favorite Tone It Up girls. You can check out their Youtube workout videos for free (but I recommend buying the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan to go along with it!).

3. Use your phone.
Never underestimate the power of a smart phone—they can do almost anything! While you may use yours primarily for texting and instagramming emailing, you can actually download some apps that will help you to stay healthy too. Moves is an app that tracks your steps each day and lets you know how active you are. Try to get to 10,000 if you can! Other great fitness apps are MyFitnessPal, which serves as a mobile food and exercise journal, and Yoga STRETCH, which allows you to take full yoga classes on the go. Each of these apps is less than $5, which is way more cost-efficient than an expensive pedometer, a personal nutritionist, or a pricey yoga membership.

4. Make a challenge.
Starting up challenges within your office, group of friends, or family is a great way to keep you motivated to stay fit throughout the day. Go ahead and encourage your group to try a 30-day crunch challenge: on the first day, do 20 crunches at some point during your day, and increase the number of crunches by 5 every day until you are at 150 crunches on day 30. You will have toned abs before you know it. Or, kick start a walking contest within your company (using Moves!) and compete with departments to see who can walk the most over an entire month. Adding a little friendly competition into your fitness routine is a fun way to stay motivated and be active.

5. Write it down.
Another trick that I’ve found helps me stay fit is putting my goals and achievements down on paper. When I have a big vacation or a special event coming up, I make a workout calendar and hang it up somewhere I see it every day. I mark a check for the days that I workout, which makes me want to get as many checks as possible. Some people also find it helpful to keep a food journal. Writing down everything you eat during the day can help to gain insight about the types of food you are eating and how much of it.

And don’t forget that taking advantage of the great outdoors is a great way to get moving without spending a dime. Go hiking, swimming, running or biking—or even taking a long walk with your girlfriend will help you to log in some exercise.

My favorite way to stay fit on a budget is popping in a workout DVD. What’s yours?

XO Lauren

P.S. Let me know what you would like to see me cover in my next fitness blog post!

And if you liked this blog post, be sure to check out the ones below too:
Get Fit: It’s Bikini Boot Camp Time!
Fit Tip: Make Your Crunches Count
Shape Up: My 30-Minute Workout
Slim Tip: 5 Ways to Think Yourself Thinner

Categories: Get Fit, Shape Up
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  • Sarah

    Good tips! I’m on day 16 of the 30 day shred from Jillian Michaels, and I feel awesome! I’ve been doing it via YouTube and the only thing I bought was a pair of free weights (about 15 bucks). We can do this, ladies!

  • Ashley

    These are all wonderful ideas! I’m all about getting fit for free (or cheap)! I tried to get into running by testing out different times of day, rainy vs. sunny vs. windy, straight paths vs. curvy, and running solo vs. with a friend, but I couldn’t make it stick. Determined to get fit, I got the original P90X kit and have been using it ever since (over a year!!)! It is more extreme than others but it is so worth it. You get toned and muscular and it’s hot! haha Added bonus: because they make you exercise for about an hour 6-7 days per week, it’s always a breeze to do a shorter workout (like the ones you suggested) when you go to mix it up. I’ve also been using MyFitnessPal for almost a year as I learn about portion sizes and healthy ways to consume protein, fat, carbs, fiber, etc. but I’m curious about the other two apps you mentioned! I also LOVE the idea of doing a competition among colleagues and training for a marathon for a good cause.
    My only other note is that investing in a good heart rate monitor is a great idea. When you punch the amount of calories you’re burning into something like MyFitnessPal for instance, it’s just a guess. It could be a lot higher or lower than you think by how hard you’re working yourself but a heart rate monitor will tell you exactly what you’re burning. This post is inspiring! Thanks! :)


    Great tips! I like myfitnesspal too. Another great person on youtube is Cassey (Blogilates) her workouts are killer but they work!

  • Sarah Nice

    I literally just blogged this morning about My Fitness Pal. And the grapes and grahams snack I found on your site that I made last night! I linked back to you. Sharing the love, you know. And THANK YOU for paying some attention to us broke girls today. :)


  • Sarah Nice

    Oh and P.S.

    Another trick I find helpful to get myself motivated is simply to read health and fitness magazines on the DAILY. Seriously. Pretty much every day I log into your site and read past articles written about getting fit and making healthy dinners, etc. It pushes me. I’ve lost a few pounds already because I feel terrible if I read about getting healthy but my actions don’t match up. Other magazines/sites I adore are Yoga Journal, Fitness, Health, self, and Women’s Health.

  • Sarah Nice

    I love My Fitness Pal. And I’ve always thought of trying P90X, but I don’t know if I can handle it, lol. I tried running every day on my parents’ treadmill and that worked out PERfectly… until I moved out and don’t have it anymore. So I guess I need to find a new way to exercise. But go you for sticking with P90X! :)

  • Diamenrose

    workout DVD sounds fun and the phone idea

  • Rachel Trampel

    Yay! This is the post I’ve been waiting for! Thank you for sharing some of these other apps. I have Insanity and Jillian Michaels and it really is like having a gym at your home! And you only pay the fee once instead of monthly! :)

  • Leanne

    A healthy lifestyle really is so important. Keeping fit and eating right makes you feel so much better.

    Love from South Africa

  • Erica Kim

    favourite way to stay fit while on a budget…
    sprints around my old high school track!
    it helps build endurance and muscle fast:)

  • Chelseaness

    I’ve been following this workout video on YouTube every morning and every evening to help get more fit. There are tons of workout videos on YouTube so that’s a great way if you’re on a budget.

  • Rhea

    I have found a fun way to break up boring gym days is to find different fitness studios around me that offer a free pass on your first visit or a discount on groupon. I just got done doing a free week at Orange Theory Fitness, I’ve also gone to yoga and boxing classes for a lot less than their normal membership.

  • Kelby Peachey

    Groupon or other sites like it are also an easy way to help you stay on budget. You sometimes have to be willing to try a new place, but that’s half the fun! I also love finding YouTube Videos for exercise.

    Oh, and Simple Green Smoothies – which you can read about on my blog:


  • Ashley at Sincerely Miss Ash

    A healthy lifestyle is so important. Eating healthy really does make a big difference!!

    Check out my latest post on Beauty Tips 101,

  • Andrea Nicole

    Wonderful tips! My Fitness Pal is wonderful, and free! It was a big part of the success I had in losing about 85 pounds this past year or so! In fact, I literally just made a post about this on my blog only moments ago! Thank you for posting these tips!


    Andrea Nicole

  • B_elyse

    iloooove K&K- The Tone It Up Girls!!! Best workouts, recipes, and advice. best website i have ever visited-so much support and advice :) love love love them! :)

  • Lizzie

    I love Amanda Russell’s workouts on YouTube. I got in great shape with her videos for my wedding. She just launched her new website which only costs $20 a month to have her personally train you.

  • Paige M

    A post about how to eat healthy on a budget would be helpful!

  • Linds BEST FREE WORKOUTS EVER!!! And they give you a new one every day!

  • TStrahlendberg


    After a well deserved road trip through the US (I just graduated from college) I will definitely need this! Re-union with boyfriend only a couple of days away and some of the delicious road trip food was simply toooo tasty!


  • Hayleyjm16

    DVDs definitely. I love the Booty Barre workout DVDs. They are killer.

  • Jackelin

    I think that writing it down really helps. I f we simply keep a mental list, we tend to “”forget”” certain things like the extra cookie or the 2nd serving of ice cream.

    check out my blog and let me know what you think! It’s something new I’m working on and all feedback is appreciated!

  • Jackelin

    I forgot to mention that I went from a size 14 to a size 12!! there’s hardly a difference on the scale but I feel so proud of my self!

    read about it at

  • Ariane

    Honestly? You don’t need a single bug to get your body into shape.
    The only thing needed is the nature outside your door – running is simply the best thing you can do. Combine this with exercises such as push-ups, squats and different kinds crunches. Your own body weight is totally enough (free weights can be helpful, but are not neccessary at the beginning. If you really need some, bottles filled with water can help you out)

    I have lost 26lbs without spending any money.
    Balanced nutrition and exercising – that’s it.

    Gym or yoga class can be fun and motivating.

    But if you really want to reach your aims, being on budget is no excuse.

    (Only thing I would advise: If there’s some money left, get some good running shoes. When I started, I was running with some old pair of sneakers; I bought a pair of running shoes for about 50$ and it makes a huge difference and is much better for your feet)

    Love from Germany everyone!

  • Kate Noto

    I go swimming every time I’m at my boyfriends. He and I also go to the park and use the workout equipment that they have there and that doesn’t cost us a dime.

  • Sheiladolstad

    Hi, i’m a stay at home mom with two young ones. I don’t typically have alot of time for myself. Well, besides the occasional walk or hike… or work on the weekends. What is a good way to get ride of the mommy tummy and upper thighs that doesn’t typically take alot of time or money? I’m obviously on a budget, lol so, yeah. Thanks a bunch if you can answer this for me. Certain workouts i have tried work to a point but not the results i’m particularly looking for.

  • Brittney

    I’d go with a combination of workout DVD’s and walks. One or both should fit easily into your schedule and be within your budget and time constraints. Walking with the kids is good for exercise and bonding time. :-)

  • Angie Hogge

    Not only are the tips in the article above great, I also find inspiration in all the beautiful ladies posting here. I believe that not only should we take care of ourselves, but each other as well. I hope everyone sees their goals met. That being said, I love myfitnesspal; I’ve been using it for over a year and a half and it really helps to see what you are taking in. Just about everything you could eat is in this app! And Jillian Michaels’ Thirty Day Shred is killer too. I saw impressive results with this DVD. I finally invested in a nice elliptical though. It was expensive but worth it.

  • Juliette19990

    In the Netherlands we have some workout shows on TV. One aims for a 50+ years old audience and runs for 15 minutes every day, but is kind of challenging when you have never exercised before. The other one I know runs for 20-25 minutes every day and targets an audience in the 20s and 30s, I’d say. This one is more challenging than the 50+ show, obviously, but both complement each other well in my opinion. I wonder, is there nothing like this in the US?

  • Ana Sofia

    Great tips. We don’t need to spent a lot of money to do exercise or loss some weight.


  • Katelin Absher

    I use my phone app that trains you for a 5k!! I Love it, and its free!! :)

  • a_rohr

    In regards to #3, the Nike Training Club app is great (and I think free)! The apartment complex I lived in had a small gym but had a studio room with jump ropes, medicine balls, exercise balls, and hand weights. Whether I chose to do a 30min or 45min workout, they kicked my butt! There are goals/achievements built into the program too! Once you have logged so many hours, you can unlock the workouts of Lea Michelle and Hope Solo among others.

    Great workout tips for girls on a budget!!

  • Amenah Hussein

    I love Jillian’s ripped in 30 and please help with cravings and temptations :(

  • Amanda Cannady

    To go with #2 You can borrow workout dvd’s from the library for free and if you have Netflix they have a lot of workout dvd’s too.

  • Hailey G

    Great tips! Must use these!

    Hailey from

  • Baleigh

    A lot of times, if you use Instagram, if you follow a health page (HealthFitnessBarbie, Health..etc.)they will post workouts that are pretty effective. What I do is take a picture of the workout routine and follow it, doesn’t cost me a dime! Who said social networking was useless? : )

  • Baleigh

    The toughest part of getting fit, is in the kitchen, no doubt about it. There is always those brownies, apple pies, and grandma’s doughnuts lying around somewhere. What is pretty effective, is controlling your mind. See a brownie? Want to eat it? Turn around, walk away, and strictly say ‘No’ in your mind. Period. Don’t make a big deal out of it, don’t whine, complain, or ponder. Just leave. No questions asked. You have to concur your mind before the rest of your body will follow.

  • Harmony

    We have many choices in the US r regarding fitness shows. It’s a fun way to work out

  • Deanne Castro

    Very inspiring!

    Visit my blog, to get the latest tips and tricks on fashion and beauty:

    Get inspired and follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @MyFashAvenue


  • Coach Alexandrea J.

    THANK YOU for this list because I really want to start getting healthier and fit but I’m definitely on a budget! So thank you for this!
    I think my favorite way to get healthy and fit is definitely Jillian Michaels-that girl is AWESOME! :) Right now I’m doing her “”ripped in 30″” dvd and i love it! :)

  • Taanjaa

    Great tips, I really think the writing down part does a big difference in reaching your goals!

  • Stacie

    If you have a really young baby, I’ve seen workout dvds that use your baby basically in the place of any workout equipment – like you do pushups over your baby so it’s kinda like a game, or hold the baby while your doing situps for more resistance. So you get your workout in, but don’t have to worry about keeping the baby busy that whole time because he’s part of it.

  • Emma Acomb

    This summer I signed up for a morning swim practice and I signed up ahead so I couldn’t back out. Then after the swim practice every morning there is a fitness bootcamp on the tennis courts so I signed up for that too! Knowing that I gave people my word to be there and exercise makes me feel like I have to go.

  • Catriona

    Totally agree! One of the biggest challenges I’m tackling at the moment!

  • Federica Valente

    During this week I’ve lost 2kg doing Wii exercise! it’s fun and motive you to go on…

  • Rachel Elkins

    Love these! I do some of these regularly and didn’t even realize it until I read it in this post. I’d like to see what kind of workouts are your favorite. Like, what do you like doing for strength training, cardio, etc.
    xo, Rachel

  • Michelle W

    Love these! I am on a VERY tight budget and a gym membership (along with mani and pedis) is now off the table! Thanks to this I went out and got 3 new workout dvds for less than $35! great tips!

  • Sophia Garcia


  • Sophia Garcia

    Thats so cool!

  • Tanisha

    i like running and walking outside its a cheap way to get a good workout and some fresh air. i’d like to know more about supplements which are best and what you really don’t need

  • Bunny Golightly

    I love Jilian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred! I get such sore muscles from it.

    For anyone that needs some motivation to hit the gym/ start that DVD, I researched 10 Resons Why EVERYONE SHOULD EXERCISE:

    and part 2

    Hope this will help everyone!

  • Shadow

    I think I’ll start walking (I have not the ability to run for more than 5 minutes…) and that I’ll write down why I want to get fit.
    Thank you for the tips (I’ll try the other ones in a near future ^^)

  • nrsmeg17

    In the next post, I would like to see foods and beverages to help decrease sore muscles post workout. Everyone knows about stretching and drinking plenty of water to decrease lactic acid, but is there anything else?
    Thanks team L.C.

  • Carolyn Yang

    I love to run, and hike! Super rejuvenating!

  • Mtrevino13

    Definitely work out DVDs, running, and walking! I think with social media people enjoy posting their progress online. It helps them seek guidance! At the end of the day it makes you feel better knowing that you are becoming a healthier you.

  • Rosynposy

    Hiking and getting friends together for a game of volleyball (or anything) is best because both activities take your mind off of the fact that you’re exercising, while going to the gym or exercising at home takes extra focus to keep going. When you’re playing sports, it’s fun and you want to win (it’s a game, duh 😉 ), and hiking leaves you with no choice (one you’ve started) but to finish it, unless you turn around (which involves walking anyway). Plus if you pick a good hike, you’re often rewarded with an amazing view and/or lake to go for a dip in somewhere along the way!

  • Ashley burke

    I like pulling up youtube for some yoga inspiration or even a snippet of a yoga class. It’s like having my own private yoga instructor in the comfort of my own room! xoxo

  • Kari

    I love workout DVD’s! I’ve been having the best improvement with Ballet Beautiful DVD’s. Lots of great workouts to give you lean muscle and improved posture :) Mary Helen Bowers is amazing throughout the whole workout – always counting out the sets and reminding you to breathe (I tend to hold my breath a bit). I’m also obsessed with spin classes at my gym!!

  • Kate

    I found a free app called Lose it and it helps you stay on top of your food intake much like a journal but it also calculates your calorie intake. Many fun features include a recipe box, lots of fun and interesting workouts, you can share with friends, and scan barcodes to add into your “pantry”…… But that is only the tip of the iceberg!

  • Kristy

    Simply cannot BELIEVE @laurenconrad does referrals to toneitup?? Lauren- you must connect with @amanda russell at

  • Jennifer

    Local swimming pool = cheap, swimming in the ocean = free!

  • Mandy V

    Yes to the smart phone tip! I use mine in conjunction with My Fitness Pal and it holds me accountable.



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