Get a million-dollar workout without the cost.

8. Update Your Routine
Stick with a workout routine for four weeks, and you will see a difference, says Chad Krisher, a personal trainer at Cooper Fitness Center. Then it's time to mix things up. It can be as simple as lifting slightly heavier weights during your strength training routine or adding a yoga or Pilates class. Continue to challenge yourself every four weeks so you won't hit a plateau. Plus you'll avoid the boredom that can come with doing the same routine every time you work out. Chad suggests this budget-friendly idea: Meet with a trainer to help you set up a routine; then meet only once a month so the trainer can help you add something new or adjust your workout.
| Credit: Van Chaplin

We can find countless excuses not to exercise, but don't let not having the right equipment be one of them. Reach your health goals by using household items or by purchasing inexpensive basic fitness tools.

Jump-start Your Workout
Here are some easy ways to exercise on the cheap.

  • You can find instant hand weights in your kitchen. Use two grapefruit, a couple of cans of baked beans (which don't swish around as much as other canned products do), or a pair of 20-ounce bottles filled with sand.
  • Check out exercise videos from your local library.
  • Simply use the steps you have in your home.
  • Place a rolled-up towel behind your back for support while you're doing sit-ups.
  • Hold a basketball with both hands, and swing your upper body from side to side while keeping your legs and hips stable. This simple move helps to make your stomach muscles stronger.

Just the Basics
If your budget has room for you to buy some new pieces, consider these ideas. You really need only a few things (and a comfortable pair of athletic shoes).

Watch for sales at discount or sporting-goods stores, or check the ads in local newspapers. Ultimately, remember that making an investment in a fitness regime means making an investment in your health.

  • Mat--If you don't have a professional mat, which can be costly, pick up a quality one at your local discount store. You can use it for everything from doing toning exercises with a resistance ball to helping balance yourself while working out to a video. Find a mat that has some padding to absorb shock.
  • Jump rope--Instead of an expensive professional one, we started off with a lightweight version. Jumping rope provides a great cardiovascular workout. Make sure the handles allow for a comfortable grip. Ropes made of nylon or leather resist wear and tear.
  • Weights--Hand weights help tone and strengthen arms. The price usually depends on their material and their heaviness.
  • Resistance ball--This inflatable fitness tool is great for a variety of exercises that strengthen the stomach and lower back muscles. Look for one that comes with a pump for extra value.
  • Exercise videos--Choose videos or DVDs with different workouts, or swap with friends for variety without added cost.