I decide to seize moving to London as an
opportunity to get my fitness in slightly better shape. I have danced for as long as I can remember and took up skiing about a year ago but my actual fitness was far from great and I decided now was time to change that. 2017 has been my first real year of ‘fitness goals’ there’s the typical weight loss (15lb in total following a far from perfect diet) but this year having taken up running – more on that later – my goal is also to run my first official 10K.
If you’d have told me 6 months ago I was going to catch ‘the bug’ I’d have laughed at you. I have never been the runner or the fitness fanatic, I’ve always admired those people who get up at the crack of dawn and run through wind and rain but extra sleep/warmth has always been my preference. I’m still not sure if it’s London that’s done this to me or the fact that I used to live between two huge hills, maybe both, but my evenings are now filled with lycra, Nike free runs and the Thames path. As a Northern girl it perhaps helps that running is free! So here are some of my top tips for keeping fit in The Capital without expensive gym membership fees.
New to running? – Try free apps such as Couch to 5k / 10k (available in the App
I love these apps! I’m currently using couch to 10K, it aims to get you 10K ready in 14 weeks based on 3 work outs a week using proven interval techniques to increase your fitness. The app tells you when to alternate between walking and running for optimal results. I also like to pair this with GPS tracking apps so I can see the map of my route; my favourite is Under Armour’s Map my Run.
Get the right gear – A money saving blog telling you to spend money seems somewhat counterintuitive, but there is nothing more motivating than new clothes or feeling comfortable in your work out gear. The best thing is you don’t even need to spend a lot of money. Sports Direct have some amazing sales on their Karrimor range at the minute, I’ve just picked up a neon pink long sleeve running T-shirt for £5.25 and the high street is going crazy for fitness gear with the likes of Primark, M&S and even Boohoo.com releasing fitness ranges there is something for everyone. I am lusting after the Oasis x Pineapple Dance Studio collection.
My new £5 bargain top featuring my £25 trainers
Shoe size smaller than a 6? – Try out the junior ranges
If you’re a keen runner already and training for marathons, this one probably isn’t for you but if you’re new to the sport and not ready to commit to expensive, custom fit shoes always try the junior sections for your running trainers. In the looks department they are virtually like for like, spec they are perhaps slightly lower but I’ve been buying my trainers in the junior section for years and I have found them to always be perfect and there are huge savings to be had! I got my first pair of Nike trainers for £25, the adult equivalent were £90!!!!
Struggle to motivate yourself? – See what’s going on in your neighbourhood
My local community are really active and have a dedicated Facebook group for fitness activities including HIIT classes, yoga, SUP yoga etc. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people and find running buddies. See if your local area offers something similar or start your own! Goodgym.org are also great to give you a little more motivation on your run, they are organised runs throughout different London Boroughs that combine exercise with giving back and helping the local community – get fit and do good! London is great for water sports and the docklands sailing centre near Canary Wharf regularly offer discounted taster sessions for sailing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Check them out on Facebook for more info.
Giving yoga a try at a local yoga class
Or if running isn’t for you…
- Shop around for classes – Seriously. It’s no secret that this City is crazy expensive and if like me you get a kick out of dance classes; shop around. When I first moved here I was being quoted £90 for an hour dance class, £22 for a weekly group class but with various research I was able to find somewhere offering Ballroom dance classes at £7 per week – the exact same price I was paying back up North.
- Home workouts – My boss swears by a home kettle bell work out and zumba and YouTube is full of them and others. Simply stream then straight into your living room (or preferred work out location) and away you go.
- Groupon – THEY HAVE EVERYTHING – From monthly gym passes, to spin classes, aerial hoop aerobics sessions, yoga, Pilates, martial arts and rock climbing. You name it, Groupon probably have it (and if they don’t it obviously isn’t worth having)the offers are incredible (5 spin classes for £15 being a personal fave) andit’s an amazing opportunity to try out new and exciting things without a hugefinancial commitment. You never know, you might find out that all that energywasted on a treadmill was a lot better suited for an aerial hoop!
- Team sports – Look out for local tennis clubs, netball teams, touch rugby teams. Whatever you’re into you’d be surprised at just what you can find on offer. The LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) have a great website that shows you all of their accredited centres and some even have a book a court feature. The ‘This Girl Can’ campaign by Sport England also has loads of information about what’s going on and is available to you.
- Check you’re not missing out on exclusive Gym offers – Residents of Southwark can get access to gyms for free within that Borough or failing that, see if your work can offer discounted schemes to access gyms in the way of salary sacrifices/corporate discounts etc. If your work are signed up to ‘Gym Flex’ there are savings of up to 40% per month to be made and you don’t pay NI on your monthly salary sacrifice scheme. Look if your local gym offers a free ‘trial’ month, just be certain to read the T’s and C’s. Most may offer your first month free but only after they have tied you into a contract, totally the opposite of productive if Virgin have already tied you into a £250 a month membership (not exaggerated.)
- Love Cycling? – Santander Cycles – I love Boris bikes. I think the concept is genius, they are cheap, easy to use and they are everywhere. Download the app, register your card and get access to a code instantly. I also love the way you can see where around you has bikes available/docking stations free. A lot of London’s parks do allow cyclists such as Hyde Park and Victoria Park so you can avoid the hellish roads. One of our favourite routes is to pick up a bike at Limehouse, take the canal path up to Victoria Park then up to the Olympic Park and on a Sunday – with good timings – it will only cost you £2.
- Take up golf – London has so many great driving ranges which makes golf a much more social event. From top golf out in Chigwell where you turn your driving range experience into various different target hitting games to the range at the o2 in North Greenwich they’re a great place to hit with friends for some light sport and alcohol!
What are your favourite ways to work out? NG x