Consider a modest investment

If you're able to spend a little, you can find inexpensive products to add variety to your fitness routine:

  • Dumbbells. Use these small, hand-held weights to strengthen your upper body. They're available in many sizes.
  • Exercise DVDs and apps. Create the feel of a health club aerobics class in your own living room — or choose a program that'll help you improve your strength and flexibility.
  • Fitness ball. A fitness ball looks like a large beach ball. You can do many core exercises, including abdominal crunches, with a fitness ball. You can also use a fitness ball to improve your flexibility and balance.
  • Jump-ropes. Skipping rope can be a great cardiovascular workout.
  • Resistance tubing. These stretchy tubes offer weight-like resistance when you pull on them. Use the tubes to build strength in your arms and other muscles. Choose from varying degrees of resistance, depending on your fitness level.

Be a savvy shopper

If you're interested in a specific exercise class or piece of equipment, shop around to find the best deal.

  • Check out your local recreation department. Many recreation departments offer discounted fitness classes to local residents. If you live near a high school or college with a fitness center, ask if the facility is available to community members.
  • Buy used equipment. Some sporting goods stores specialize in used equipment — or you can check out listings for exercise equipment in the local newspaper. You may also find great deals on used exercise equipment online. Just make sure the cost of shipping won't put the item out of your budget.
  • Share costs with a friend. Trade exercise videos or DVDs with a friend so that neither of you gets bored doing the same workout over and over again. Find a personal trainer who'll let you share the cost of a session with a friend or two.

Remember, getting in shape doesn't need to be expensive. Don't get caught up in memberships or purchases you can't afford. Instead, concentrate on your fitness goals — and how to achieve them without breaking your budget.

Aug. 18, 2012 See more In-depth