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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


Frugality and Fitness: Boost Your Health and Grow Your Wealth

March 23, 2019

Around the globe, populations are struggling with growing health problems.  Many of which stem from poor eating habits and lack of exercise.

But some of us get it.  We realise how important our health is.  Because without it, well, we’re screwed!

So we start making conscious choices to eat better, healthier foods.  And many join gyms and pay for training sessions as an ‘investment’ into their health.

That’s all good stuff.  But somewhere along the way, we started assuming that a health-focused lifestyle costs a lot of money.  And that’s complete rubbish!

We’ve already squashed the myth that ‘healthy food is expensive.’  Now it’s time to tackle exercise and lifestyle.  Let’s go!


How can you say healthier isn’t more expensive?

Be patient, I’ll get to that.  But first, let’s step back and take a big picture look at our assumptions.

Just like with the other areas we spend money on, most of us either consciously or unconsciously believe that more expensive = better.  So spending more = better results, more value in return and higher happiness.

Sometimes that’s true.  But not always.

The important lesson I’m trying to convey in 938 different ways on this blog, is that you can almost always find a lower cost way to get roughly the same health, lifestyle and happiness benefits you do right now, simply by changing your outlook and making more optimal choices.

Since health has become an increasing focus for wealthy Western consumers, marketers are sniffing around trying to figure out how to extract as many dollars as possible from those of us looking to ‘invest’ in our health.

Never underestimate the power of marketing.  It influences all of us, into believing if we buy X, we’ll get Y.  If we choose the higher priced option, it comes with mystical lifestyle benefits and elevates our status among our peer group.

Let’s look at how health and fitness can be approached by a classic free spender.  And then let’s see how frugality and fitness can come together with the aim of maximising health and wealth at the same time!


The Fire Hose Approach

As with most things, there’s no limit to how much you can spend in this area.  Spraying money around is always an option!

First, there’s the gym membership, which is around $33 per week (for a 3 month contract), or $22 per week (for an 18 month contract) at the facility-rich, Fitness First.  (list of gym comparisons here)

Then of course, we’ll be paying for at least one session with a personal trainer per week – to make sure we’re on track with our program and giving us that extra boost – at a conservative cost of $50 per session.

It doesn’t stop there though.  Because we need specially designed clothes to look good at the gym and stay on trend, at a cost of several hundred dollars per year.

Don’t forget, we also need high end supplements to make sure we’re getting the desired results for the hard work we’re putting in.  And lastly, move over boring old food, because now we’re chomping on the latest ‘super-foods’ to enrich our bodies with all their, um, supery-goodness!

So with these two diet tweaks, we can comfortably add $30 per week to our overall food bill ($15 per person).  Let’s see what our ‘investment’ bill comes to for the year…

Gym – $1,144.  PT sessions – $2,600.  Workout gear – $400.  Super-foods/supplements – $780.

Total = $4,924 each year, per person.

Sure, it might seem unreasonable, but this is our health we’re talking about.  And you can’t put a price on your health, right?

Now, if you’re somehow a multi-millionaire who is financially independent and this spending has zero effect on your freedom, then sure, go right ahead.  But for the rest of us with limited means trying to build our wealth, we need to put our efficiency hats on so health doesn’t become another cash-draining expense.


The Slight Optimiser

With a little bit of thinking, it’s not too hard to come up with far lower cost solutions to the above.

First, the gym.  Rather than the more upmarket facilities at Fitness First, a lower cost gym like Jetts is likely to do the trick.  It has all the equipment you need without the frills.  Also 24/7 opening hours make it more flexible and less crowded.  Costs are $15 per week with no lock-in contracts.

Maybe you’ll want one $50 session per month with a trainer, to make sure you’re lifting correctly and give you a few tips here and there.

As for clothes, improving on the above, you might buy a couple of pieces of workout gear each year, for a yearly cost of $200.

Now, onto nutrition.  Maybe you’re not as brainwashed as the first example, but you still add a couple of super-food items to your weekly shop and purchase some branded supplements.

Let’s add it up.

Gym – $780.  PT sessions – $600.  Clothes – $200.  Nutrition – $300.

Total = $1,880 each year, per person.

That’s a huge improvement on the free spender, with very little effort or change involved.  But of course, I think we can do even better than this!


Frugal Fitness

You might be surprised to hear that it’s actually possible to be a strong and healthy individual without any of this stuff.

Since we’ve already covered Frugality & Food, you’ve got solid nutrition nailed down at a reasonable cost.  The other important factor, of course, is physical activity.  So, what ultra low cost options do we have for exercise?

Doing rounds of body-weight push-ups and squats.  But they’re too easy you say?

Simply do more.  Do them in slow motion.  Pause at the bottom.  Do it with weight.  There’s lots of ways to make it extra challenging.

What else?

Bike riding.  Somewhere in nature is best for the ultimate dose of fresh air, exercise and a happiness boost.

Go for a daily walk or run.  Go swimming (mind the sharks).

Get out in the garden and grow some plants (food preferably).  Kick the footy at your local oval, or shoot some hoops at the local basketball court.

There’s more things listed here than we could possibly have time for!  And crucially, most involve getting outside, which is even better than a stuffy and overcrowded gym!

Cost?  Essentially zero.


“OK, but we live in the real world”

Maybe you’re just warming up to this frugality thing and you’re not quite ready to dump your gym membership just yet.

Maybe you struggle with motivation and the gym environment gives you the boost you need.  Or you live in an apartment and can’t fit your desired exercise equipment at your place.

I can understand that.  So while I still think a low/no cost health plan should be your ultimate goal, I’m willing to meet you in the middle.

Let’s go half way between The Optimiser and Frugal Fitness.


Strong Money’s Maximum Allowable Spend

You can have a low cost gym membership at around $15 per week.

As for a personal trainer, no, you won’t be paying for one of those.  You can simply watch YouTube videos or read a book on how to lift weights correctly.

Clothes?  We’ve all got some older clothes in our wardrobe which are fine that we don’t wear too often.  That’s the correct workout gear to use.  This isn’t about fashion and selfies, it’s about health!

For nutrition, you won’t be buying any super-foods or high-end supplements.  But you can have a small allocation for vitamins/protein powder in your grocery budget, as we do.

Gym – $780.  Nutrition – $200.  Total cost = $980 each year, per person.  Still almost half the cost of the above example!

This is the highest acceptable amount to spend in my view.


Our Scenario

Many years ago, we used to frequent the gym about 10 minutes from our house.  It was fine at first, just a bit expensive.  But it soon became a total nightmare.


Because the time we wanted to go, was the time EVERYONE wanted to go.  And the gym kept signing up new members all the time, so it just got busier and busier.

Pretty soon, we’d spend half our time just standing around waiting to use equipment, and dealing with traffic to and from the gym, until eventually, we said f*#k this!

So we decided to bite the bullet and buy some equipment.  We just got the essentials.  A decent squat rack.  A bench.  And an olympic bar with a bunch of weights.

This is all you need.  It allows you to do squats, bench press, overhead press, deadlifts, barbell rows, and countless other exercises.

The total cost was around $800 from memory, including delivery and setup.

Since then we’ve bought a couple of dumbbells off Gumtree, a mat and a roller.  All up we’ve still spent less than $1,000.

The gym cost us about $30 per week combined, or $1,500 per year.  So we made our money back very quickly.  Now, 8 years later, we’ve saved countless wasted hours and over $10,000 in gym fees.  Safe to say, it’s been a fantastic decision!

In addition to this, we go for regular walks and bike rides, do a bit of gardening and occasionally shoot hoops.

While we’re not quite as hardcore as the Frugal Fitness example, our situation is very low cost.  The ongoing replacement cost of the gym equipment works out at a very small dollar amount per year.  And one of our perfectly-fine bikes was found on a verge for hard-rubbish collection!


Benefits of Low Cost Options

As is often the case, the benefits of optimising your spending here are many.

—  By choosing the Frugal Fitness options listed, you’ll save the regular car trips to the gym, reducing your petrol and maintenance costs (which adds up over time, but I’ve ignored).  That’s an environmental boost too!

—  Save lots of time.  No waiting for equipment, no driving, no traffic.

—  You’ll become more self-reliant for your physical health.  You no longer require gyms, trainers, and external factors – making you a stronger, more independent human.

—  Pure convenience.  Choose any time and any day of the year that suits you.  Not when the gym is open, or trying to avoid busy periods/traffic.  All without having to compete with other people for sweaty equipment.

—  More outdoor activities means more fresh air, sunshine and nature.

—  And of course, you’ll save a ton of money!


What’s a frugal health plan really worth?

Well, our initial Fire Hose spender scenario would cost a couple close to $10,000 per year.  The Optimiser couple would spend closer to $4,000 per year.  And the Strong Money Maximum Allowable Spend is around $2,000 for a couple.

Since Strong Money readers are a thoughtful and intelligent bunch, we can safely ignore the first example.  Instead, we’ll assume you can improve from the Optimiser to the Strong Money Maximum Allowable Spend.

A couple would be better off by $2,000 per year in this example.  Easy money, minimal effort.  But it gets better.

After 10 years of investing this extra cash (earning 8% per annum), they’d have almost $30,000.  And more importantly, because their spending is now permanently lower, they’d need $50,000 less in investments to reach Financial Independence.

Keep in mind, the ultimate Frugal Fitness plan costs close to $0, with our own approach costing maybe a few hundred dollars per year at most.  So you could almost double the benefits above for a near zero-cost strategy, and effectively be around $100,000 better off.


Final Thoughts

The tentacles of consumerism have latched on to our growing focus on health.  And it’s managed to turn something so basic, like eating good food and being active, into another consumption trap.

But as you can see, these costs (like many) are completely optional.  We have the opportunity to take control of our health and make it one of our top priorities in life – all without spending a fortune on it.

In fact, because these frugal exercise ideas are such a great and enjoyable use of our free time, it means we’re simply too busy for other money-sucking activities, like shopping and restaurant-hopping.

Just like cooking your own food, creating your own low-cost health and fitness plan becomes a self-reinforcing habit.  And this forms a fundamental part of your long term lifestyle, which lowers your ongoing expenses and brings Financial Independence closer.

See, we really can improve our health and grow our wealth at the same time!

Have you got any frugal fitness tips for staying healthy and maximising your savings rate at the same time?  Let me know in the comments…


55 Replies to “Frugality and Fitness: Boost Your Health and Grow Your Wealth”

  1. When we moved into our new house I bought a combination squat rack and chin up bar from Aldi for $200. We got a bench press and some weights from Rebel for about $300, and a medicine ball for about $20. That’s pretty much all the equipment we have, although admittedly I do need to get more weights for the bench.

    My exercise routine is a mix of weights, body weight stuff like push ups and chin ups, some planking and other ab work, plenty of walking and then running a couple of times a week. The most expensive ongoing cost is replacing running shoes and the occasional entry fee for runs, but it’s well under a thousand dollars a year. Also my employer gives me up to $500 to spend on health and fitness so I should be able to get my spending down even further!

    1. Sounds like a good setup mate, nice work!

      Your exercise routine seems more serious than mine – I could certainly put more effort into this area. Pretty awesome to get a health/fitness allowance from your employer too 🙂

  2. This is something that I am incredibly passionate about! There truly is no need to spend thousands of dollars at a gym etc. A great little hack is to use community parks. You are able to do quite a lot of circuit work for zero cost at your local footy oval park. Why not mix in some sprints with some Fartlek training on the oval? Why not make up your own high intensity interval training (HIIT) session with the park equipment? You could do a circuit of 30-50 dynamic push ups, then 20 chin ups on the swings, 50 sit ups and then 25 Commando crawls. Easy! You can essentially mould your own routine based around the surroundings in your community. Gymnasiums essentially started in open air spaces in Greece a few thousand years ago so you’d be going back to the roots of where physical fitness was intertwined with the outdoors and education!

    I purchased a road bike last year and have clocked up around 10,000 km since I first bought it. Absolute minimal cost once you buy the bike! I absolutely love it. I’ve been able to see some amazing places in the state and have cycled up some amazing peaks in Victoria. The only ongoing cost would be the coffee stop and a few maintenance items on the bike e.g. tubes, new chain etc. You could go nuts on new kit and aerodynamic features on the bike, however, that is open to the individual and how much free cash they allow themselves to splurge on the sport. Warning: It is an incredibly addictive sport.

    With my cycling and open air training at the local park undertaking HIIT training circuits, I am probably the fittest I’ve ever been in my life. Fitter than I was than when I played footy! I also don’t have any real ongoing costs to maintain the fitness!

    1. Thanks very much for sharing your approach mate – great to hear it’s working so well! Some excellent tips in there! There really is a huge amount of free exercise that’s possible with a bit of thought and using our own local environment.

      I second owning a bike, even if for no other reason than another form of transport to the local shops etc. We bike pretty casually (but it’s so nice to get out in the fresh air and sunshine and soak up some nature while using your body.

  3. I allocate $1,000 a year to 45-minutes HIIT circuit classes. It’s a 10-minute walk down the road so no travel costs or hassle. Four 10-packs a year. This works because I need to go somewhere where I have to do everything at a high level and get the workout. If I did this at home, it wouldn’t happen the same way. I’ve had the same gym clothes for 4 years so not much cost there either — bought it all in an outlet store in the US so it was cheap (Nike gear too). I figure $1,000 annually towards preventive health is worth it. If I don’t do it, other problems creep in such as back and neck pain from desk work. And for that, I need physiotherapy at $107 a pop. With circuit classes, it all goes away and I feel like a million bucks.

    1. Thanks for sharing your approach Scott. Spending $1,000 a year is definitely okay and comfortably meets the Strong Money Maximum Allowable Spend for exercise/fitness 🙂

      Exercise beats physio 100 times over, it prevents/fixes the problem versus a band-aid solution, and you get all the other benefits from exercise like elevated mood, energy, health and focus – it simply can’t be substituted! Great to hear you’ve found something that works for you!

  4. Hi Dave, found you through one of Aussie Firebugs posts. I’m also a Perth resident 🙂

    My wife has been getting free daily training for the past 3 years, there is a program called ‘live life get active’ which I’ve just realised is located in all states so your other readers can also take advantage ???? We live in East Perth so she is attending the o-zone reserve location which is a 1 minute walk from our apartment. She trains with a group & trainer Mon, Tue, Wed & Thu with a yoga session on Fridays. These sessions run 6.30am to 7.15am so may not be possible for everyone with work commitments. The link is here

    For myself I was previously paying $60/month for Snap Fitness but was either having to wake up very early to train on a morning when it was quiet or after work when it was very busy and sometimes difficult to use equipment so I cancelled the membership a few years ago. When we moved to East Perth I wanted to get back into the gym so we searched for an apartment with a gym & found an amazing one with all the machines/free weights I will ever need. I train on a morning before work as it’s just a case of hopping in the lift rather than driving to a gym, so no excuses.

    Our rent is $10 more per week than our previous apartment so I’m effectively getting a gym membership for $520/year instead of $720/ year plus we have an outdoor swimming pool/spa so well worth it.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Cheers Paul, awesome comment! And good to see another Perth reader 🙂

      Thanks for sharing Live Life Get Active – another reader has also suggested it so hopefully plenty of others will check it out too. Looks like a fantastic initiative and amazing that it’s free in so many locations!

      Excellent situation living in a complex with a gym included. I’d definitely aim for that if we lived in the city area. For the convenience of having it all in your building plus the extra facilities, is easily worth $10 per week and I bet it’s pretty quiet most of the time too?

      1. Yep fairly quiet, I’d say on average 3 people including myself on a morning. On a weekend I sometimes have the whole gym to myself. The other residents generally use the rowing, running or bike machines which is great as I’m only using the free weights/benches, squat rack and weight machines so it works out well.

  5. Awesome post!
    I have 6 kettlebells. 16kg, 24kg, 2 26kg, 32kg and 40kg
    I have paid roughly 500 bucks for them over a 10 year period.

    I only choose to train with them solely about 3 yrs ago. But it terms of frugal fitness no shoes needed, I wear board shorts and a shirt is optional.
    I found that compared to training at the gym it is a lot more effective.

    1. Second this – kettlebells are a great cheap replacement for the gym. Although having a squat rack is certainly nice.

      Another cheap idea is a set of gymnast rings that you set up on a tree at the local park . Cost approx $40 and you can spend many years getting stronger and stronger, though they don’t really train legs unfortunately.

    2. Nice work Houston! I’ve never used kettlebells actually but they seem like a great simple solution versus equipment. Haha shirt and shoes are optional, love it, the benefits just keep coming!

      Thanks for sharing another extremely low cost way to stay fit 🙂

  6. I was like that too once upon a time! Expensive gym membership that we rarely used, personal trainer that we really didn’t need. We ended up dropping the gym membership.

    Right now my frugal fitness doesn’t cost me anything. I’m lucky to work in an office where we have access to all floors. So I take the stairs, every time. I work on the 11th floor, so I walk up and down 11 flights every weekday, sometimes multiple times a day. My colleagues help me out by booking meetings on the lower levels so that I’m forced to take the stairs. Does wonders for my heart rate (but brutal on the hamstrings!)

    I also have a dog that gives me major puppy eyes when he’s not walked, so that’s my motivation to go out running. Technically not a free option (boy is he expensive to maintain) but I get paid in love and cuddles 🙂

    1. Hey Ms FireMum, thanks for sharing!

      That’s an unusual but very clever approach, and especially cool that your colleagues help you (force you) to squeeze more stairs in!

      Haha the puppy eyes get me every time too – they sure know how to make you feel bad, and they’re costly, but as you say, what you get in return is priceless 🙂

  7. I also suggest people look into Live Life Get Active sessions through their website. Absolutely Free guided training in your local Australian park, two days of the week are boxing sessions, two days cross-training and one yoga session.

    Also look into Parkrun, also Free. It is held in many more locations around Australia than the above. It is a 5km timed Run / walk held on a Saturday morning, in Queensland at 7am.

    A great community vibe is present at both events. Also note for both you have to register on line before attending, to do with insurance I believe!

    1. I second Parkrun. A free timed 5km run each week, and there’s people of all abilities (including walkers) so there’s always someone to chase and help you push yourself more. It’s an 8am start here in Victoria rather than 7am, not sure what it is in the other states.

      1. It’s 8am start over here in Perth. Actually, they hold it at the park near our place! But Saturday is kind of our cheat day, so I’m usually kicking back on the porch with my honey toast and coffee, watching them go past LOL!

    2. Thanks for the suggestions Marianne – seems a few people are using Live Life Get Active. It sounds like a great social program. Parkrun is a good suggestion too, they hold a run every Saturday near our place, so I believe they’re likely to be Australia wide too!

      Some great ideas, thanks again 🙂

  8. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the post. Been reading your blog for the past couple of months, and this is my first post on your blog so let me say thank you for your reviews of various LICs in the past and your posts tying into Peter Thornhill, Steve Green, other approaches to investing/FIRE etc. If only there was a big thumbs up button on this website!
    Also very keen on being frugal in food, cooking, using unit pricing to evaluate and buy groceries and have long taken the view that fitness can be frugal too. Certainly doesn’t hurt that work pays for gym membership, so go twice a week, ride my bike to and from work twice a week and have ballroom dancing class one evening a week. I suppose another slant on the value equation is learning new skills in addition to fitness plus the social aspects of meeting new people. Might I suggest you and your wife try some dance classes? Perth has a really good yet small community of dancers in different styles including salsa, swing, ballroom, tango and others.

    1. Hey Ben, thanks heaps for reading – I’m glad you’ve found the blog helpful!

      Sounds like you’ve got the frugality stuff down 🙂

      Great to hear work pays for the gym. Maybe this is becoming more common over time, as another reader said the same thing?

      I’ve actually watched a dancing community event when we lived in Scarborough (held down at the beach), and they’re all quite impressive. It’s not really my thing though, but I appreciate the suggestion, it’s certainly a great form of exercise!

  9. Poignant words, Dave. An excellent example of how we can live well and get wealthy at the same time.

    I remember when I first got into the health scene, my fridge was full of high quality (read, high cost) meats from the local markets. I bought high quality protein powders, creatine, multi vitamins/minerals, BCAAS (because obviously my meat heavy diet didn’t have enough aminos???). Daily protein bars (quest nutrition, etc). I started in a low cost gym, but signed up to one which also happened to be 5x more expensive and have personal training sessions (note: I kept both memberships). I don’t even remember my reasoning. This method worked, but it wasn’t perfect and certainly didn’t reflect the cost. Other aspects of my life were suffering.

    One day I summed up all of these costs, including the meat and I was so shocked, I realised quickly that this was not sustainable. My mind was blown, and I was furious with myself for letting it get out of hand, so I quickly did the following
    – Cancelled my expensive gym, went back to my low cost gym until I finally started working out at home in my yard with AthleanX programs which is way cheaper than the gym over the long haul, and kind of like personal training. Working out at home doesn’t work in Sydney, it’s often cheaper to get a low cost gym membership than pay for space in a home to work out! So be careful there. If you’re in Perth, then you’re set!
    – Switched most of my meat heavy meals and “protein snacks” to plant-based protein, based on my friends suggestions. I had no idea legumes, grains etc were so packed full of protein. I mean my oats + plant milk brekky has 30g protein.
    – Got rid of most of my powders, pills, etc. I now just have 1 high quality protein powder which I use infrequently… I’ve learnt that these powders are a risk – you never know exactly what you’re injesting.

    Needless to say, after this I was suddenly FLUSH with cash (and fitness).


    1. Fantastic story Mateo! And thanks for being so open honest – you’ve made some excellent changes!

      Keeping the low cost gym membership is perfectly fine in my view, if the home setup or free stuff doesn’t suit suit someone.

      Of course I’m biased, but awesome to hear you’re also eating a plant based diet – it’s funny, we can still get enough protein and often the plant based food has more vitamins and minerals on top.

      Some powders by well known brands are full of absolute shit – we generally will only buy natural ones that have nothing else added. But at the end of the day, it’s only a substitute, real food is always better!

      The savings from your food choices and gym situation would be enormous, I can only imagine. Great story, thanks again for sharing 🙂

  10. Do people really pay $33 p/w (or even $22 p/w) for the privilege of going to a gym?

    For a few years I was attending a small suburban gym near my home, and paid between $40 and $45 per MONTH. This gym closed its doors a couple of years ago, so I was forced to get out of my comfort zone and look for another place to train. Unlike others, I really need a gym to keep motivated; buying weights and training at home wouldn’t work for me, and I don’t like running (bad for my joints).
    I have since found another nearby gym, although not quite as conveniently located as my previous gym. It’s called Crunch Fitness (part of a small chain that operates only in Melbourne and Sydney), and it advertises a base-membership rate of $9.95 per week. However, I offered to pay 12 months upfront rather than by direct debit, so I pay $400 per year, which is about $7.70 per week. The gym is well-equipped and very big, and it provides everything I need in a fitness centre.

    1. Damn that’s a very good deal Robert! Thanks for sharing that, other readers from Syd/Melb can check it out.

      Yep it seems people do pay that much (surely not $33 pw for long though)- the big branded chain gyms usually have quite fancy facilities, sometimes with classes included and saunas etc.

  11. I canned the gym membership many years ago, and while I’m probably not as fit as I should be, I get enough of a workout working around our house. Today I spend around an hour battling with some overgrown trees and vines, and I’m absolutely exhausted! But it’s incredibly rewarding seeing the fruits of my efforts, and knowing I didn’t have to go to a gym or pay someone else to do the work! Incidental exercise is what I’m all about these days! (hopefully it’s enough as I continue to get older….)

    Cheers, Frankie

    1. Good stuff mate! Incidental exercise is excellent because it doesn’t feel like exercise plus you’re getting stuff done at the same time! Triple win when it saves having to outsource the job to a contractor 🙂

  12. Interesting post Snowball:)

    Not sure if it is the cause of FI or the effect of FI that some of us pay more attention on our health, in addition to our finance.

    Our health is our most imperante asset that often we neglect to chase after money and other things.

    I use a set of barbells ($100 from Rebel) and 2 dumbell sets from Aldi $40 for my weight trainings alternating with HIIT, yoga, body combat, core, balance sessions using youtube (try the 30 minute Les Mils cardio) either at home or at a local park, then stair and flat runs twice a week.

    Once it becomes a habit, it is part of the daily routines.

    Maybe it is the FI mindset, it is not about the money for me, it is about utility and convenience even though we have a gym close by.

    1. Thanks for sharing Anne! Couldn’t agree more with your sentiments, and it sounds like you’ve built a fantastic program there!

      It could be that those focused on Financial Independence are a thoughtful bunch who are able to think about their life over the long term, rather than the ‘live for today’ mentality that dominates most people. So inevitably we’re more conscious of our health and finances among other things 🙂

  13. HI Dave,
    Great post.
    Loving the live life get active suggestions by everyone, I’ve never heard of that before, sounds like great fun, I think i might check it out.
    I’ve been using an app called You are your own gym by an ex special forces guy called Mark Lauren for years, I use it to work out in the park on the way to work, it’s a great way to start the day. The 10 week programs are the most balanced workout I’ve ever done, you end up really functionally fit. Life feels simple when you don’t need equipment just to keep fit, pistol squats and one handed pushups can be heaps harder than lifting weights.
    Check it out:

    1. Thanks for the app idea Andrew – will have to take a look at that. I’ve always wondered about a bodyweight program but hadn’t really seen one before. Great to hear it’s working for you!

      We’re getting some wonderful suggestions here, it’s awesome! Thanks again 🙂

  14. Another great post, thanks for that.
    People overcomplicate things these days. I never found the need for a gym membership and prefer solo training in general.

    From an equipment perspective, i have two dumbell sets, an easy bar and Gym rings in my garage and that’s all i’ve used for many years. All bought from Kmart too at less than 100$ . I Also have a boxing bag too for the odd anger management session 😉

    My biggest expense is usually runners as i am big on running and do cover a bit of mileage every week so that sends me back around 150-200$ a pair, around 2-3 times a year.

    From a food perspective, i consider food to be sustenance no more no less. Love good food for sure but simply don’t need it and don’t crave it. So 90% of what i eat is whole foods like vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk, chicken, meat … Only supplement is whey protein as it’s just more convenient than eating other high protein foods. 5kgs for around 100$ that last me around 3 months.

    Fitness really doesn’t need to cost you a thing unless you are trying to break records. I think mindset, habits and discipline are the most important things when it comes to maintaining health and being fit.

    1. Cheers Paul!

      Sounds like you’ve got a great low cost program sussed out for yourself. Haha love the anger management strategy! You’re spot on, there’s no reason this stuff has to be complicated – I think it gets mystified by marketing and people think there’s some secret to being healthy etc.

      Discipline/habits/values are super important in most areas of our life and that probably deserves it’s own post – well pointed out!

      1. Would be great to hear your thoughts on Discipline/habits/values.

        I’m not a big fan of online newsletters/subscriptions but i get really excited when i see a new blog post notification from StrongMoneyAustralia. Well thought and well reasoned posts which is a breath of fresh air in a sea of noise that is the Web these days …

        Keep up the great work as I’m sure it keeps lots of us true and on track to reaching our shared goal of Financial independence and a better way of life.

  15. Nice article Dave – first time commenter here.

    Some very common sense thinking. I am working on my fitness by just doing pushups and other body weight exercises daily. It costs nothing, can be done anywhere and is very good for you. I even have a park over the road with monkey bars so once I can do more pull ups I can just go over the road. Another plus is that I can exercise while at the park with my kids, and it doesn’t cost a cent.

    Added bonus of kids – when they see you doing push ups they will always jump on your back – making the push ups even harder.

    p.s. keep up the blog – although I don’t read every article (I am just focused on reducing debt for now than investing) everything I have read have been interesting with a new Aussie spin added (which is rare).

    1. Thanks for the comment and the feedback Christov 🙂

      Great to see so many readers choosing to create their own workout routines for free! And that’s a great pointer about having the kids on your back lol – the weight increases as they get bigger, so that should help build strength too!

      1. Haha yes, I did not think of that but there is no excuses for using push ups until it becomes ‘uncool’ to get on my back!

  16. Another interesting post Dave. I’m a long time follower, but a first time commenter.

    I’m very frugal in most aspects of my life but fitness is one area I spend quite a lot and I’m perfectly happy with that. I spend about $2000 per year on a rock climbing gym membership and online coaching plus an extra few hundred on equipment such as climbing shoes and ropes. I also spend another $1000 or so per year to go outdoor climbing every weekend (this is mostly petrol/car costs).

    This sounds like quite a lot, but this is much more than just fitness to me. Climbing is my source of physical health, mental health and most of my social interaction. I’m at the gym 4 days a week and climb outdoors 1-2 days each weekend so I feel like I get good value for money. Climbing is also a large part of my reason for working towards FIRE – to have the freedom to spend more time travelling and climbing outdoors! I know spending this money is a personal choice and none of these are fixed costs, but for me, it is worth every cent 🙂

    p.s. I love the blog and your posts always leave me with food for thought. Your story has been a great source of inspiration and motivation as I have started my FIRE journey over the last year.

    1. Thanks for the great feedback Kate, and sharing your own approach!

      Sounds like your incredibly passionate about rock climbing, and since you’re getting so much out of it, it’s clearly worth it. Another great thing about frugality is that if we’re frugal in most areas, it allows extra cushion if we want to spend more on something really important without hurting our savings – just as you’re doing. And it’s even better that rock climbing provides you with a source of motivation for reaching FI as well!

      Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up with a semi-retired part time gig as a rock climbing instructor and it’ll never feel like work 🙂

  17. Hi Dave,

    Another great post, one of the benefits of being on this path is that we can share ideas, be creative and flexible to achieve our goals.

    I think before people start all the ‘doing’ related to health it’s important to have clear the Why we are doing, this is no different to having a Why for financial independence. It’s very different to say “I want to lose 10 kilos or have a 6-pack by the end of the year” than to say “I want to live to X years of age and get there with phenomenal health and well-being” ; “I want to be medication independent” even “nursing home independent”. Once we have clear this big picture it’s easier to start to make changes and come up with creative ideas to save money while we get healthy.

    The word ‘Wealth’ originally meant weal or well-being, the meaning changed with time and it currently has a pure monetary connotation. So, I agree with you in that we can develop our health and wealth at the same time, to have genuine wealth.

    Also, health can be seen from different angles, some people limit it to going to the gym and to exercise, which is important but so in Nutrition ! I’ve seen a couple of videos of frugal living and people eating really unwise to save money which, in my opinion, could create expensive health problems.

    I’d like to recommend to you all the book Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin, she talks about the power of spending time with friends and family, that has been proven to influence our health and that doesn’t have to cost any money in some cases. Other factors she mentions are managing stress, doing things that you love, having healthy relationships, etc.

    Well I hope some of these ideas can be useful for this great community.


    1. Great comment Plutarch!

      Thanks for the suggestions. You make some very solid points there, which I’m sure is helpful for tons of people.

      Eating the cheapest food you can find, even unhealthy food, is a terrible way to save money. To me, that’s not frugality, that’s being cheap and going for a short term win, while sacrificing long term health. In this country, there’s absolutely no need to skimp on health and happiness to get a high savings rate to retire early.

  18. Give the freeletics bodyweight fitness app (free version) a try

    As well as the free version, Freeletics offers “The Coach”, which is a digital ‘personal trainer’ where you give feedback after each workout, which can be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Even some of the sorter workouts can be tough. Available on iPhone or Android phone

    Workouts can be done at home or down at the local park in most instances

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Barry! Sounds like another good option – boy, gyms will be going out of business with all these great ideas floating around!

  19. I similarly have my own power rack at home to do all the required compound exercises (squats, deadlifts, pullups, bench press etc).

    I used to go to a gym but I hate the lines waiting for equipment. I do miss seeing pretty people at the gym though! hahahaha

    1. Haha, good stuff mate! The waiting in line thing is where you gotta draw the line I think – crazy!

  20. In winter I play soccer and then I hope to referee a little or Assistant referee around that. Hopefully by the end of the season the soccer refereeing has paid for the costs of the season

  21. I switched my daily commute to a bike ride. The biggest impact was not on my finances but on my mood. 100% fewer bad mood mornings at work now. 15mins on a crowded bus can never compare to 45mins on the bike path to start the day. It also reduced my appetite and increased my energy so less snacking and fewer coffees. Bike maintanace does cost a bit but it’s worth it.

    1. That’s fantastic, awesome work!

      The appetite is very interesting, I wonder if it’s because you now sleep better from the exercise? Hence more well rested and less likely to crave junk/caffeine to boost energy levels? Either way, sounds like a huge win in many ways.

  22. I go for a walk every morning. That’s my entire fitness routine at the moment!

    My current walking shoes cost about $170 – I need quality walking shoes as I have bad ankles/knees. Don’t know how long they’ll last yet as I’m still on my first pair! I’m hoping a couple of years maybe?

    I did buy a few pairs of leggings from Target for walking too ($25 for full length ones (winter), and $10 for knee length ones (summer)). They’ll last for years unless I lose a lot of weight and have to buy a smaller size (but that’s a nice problem to have!) Other than that, I just wear old t-shirts plus an old jacket in winter. Nothing special.

    I’m going to look into “Live Life Get Active” – I’d never heard of it, but it is possibly exactly what I need. Thanks to all your readers who recommended it!

    1. A good pair of shoes should definitely last a couple of years! If they don’t then I’d seriously consider whether they are worth the cost! You may do just fine with a lower cost pair of shoes which are reasonably supportive and then adding some quality orthotics inside (which helps your weight fall where it should when walking). I put these in my shoes and they last many many years (as I have flat feet). I use these ones –

      1. Thanks! The shoe shop tried to sell me orthotics along with a much more expensive pair of shoes! I did stupidly fall for it at first, but then I was walking around the shops carrying my $320 shoes plus $50 orthotics and I just felt physically sick at how much I’d spent! I returned them just a couple of hours later (BNIP) and exchanged them for my $170 pair instead – still supportive, comfy and going strong.
        I might try orthotics if they start to get uncomfortable but still have plenty of tread left. Good advice!

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