My favourite thrifty fitness activities

A person wearing red athletic shoes and a yellow and black striped tracksuit.

As a teacher, I happily put my hands up and admit that summer is my off season. I can put my feet up and relaaaax. Quite often this involves ice cream and cake and a table but sometimes, I relax by…well, working out.

I find it gives me more energy (to do less), my mood is lifted and I generally tend to have more patience with other human beings.
A sedentary Draig is a pretty miserable Draig indeed. Plus, there are a whole load of preventable diseases that run in my family for which exercise seems to be the number 1 solution.

But I resist the siren call of leisure centres and gyms trying to lure me with summer deals and an impressive puns on the word ‘sizzling’. Nope, unless it’s for a swimming pool, I’m not going in.

Rather, I’m trying to make the most of the sunshine, warmth and free Vitamin D I have access to before winter comes a-knocking to stay for what seems like forever…



Ah, you thought I was going to say first of all running, right? Nah, skipping (or jump roping) to me is such a typical summer activity and one that unfortunately seems to die out when people hit adolescence. Unless you’re a champion boxer, of course.

Rocky trying to turn the ground into dust beneath his feet as he jumps rope.

You can buy skipping ropes new from Amazon or eBay and I’ve seen some secondhand – but basically new – ones on eBay from £4-£6 including postage.

You could probably make your own out of heavy fabric or rope (especially if you want a big one) but if you are buying a single person rope, make sure it is the right length for your height – buying a standard length one when you’re tall may result in you constantly thwaping yourself in the back of the head or having to crouch skip and that’s just not comfy.

Soundtrack: Gold Dust by DJ Fresh. Also, anything from the Jump In soundtrack.


I don’t think of running as a particuarly cheap activity like it’s always marketed. Never mind the weapons-grade sports bra needed to make it comfortable (that is a necessity for all sporting activities for me), it’s the trainers that always seemed to get me. So much choice! And how do you know which ones to buy or which will fall apart at the merest taste of tarmac?

You don’t, my dear. You’ve just got to try one, see how they fit and give it a go.
If, like myself, running solo bores you or the sight of the birds and bees and oncoming rainclouds aren’t enough to keep your attention, there’s the free Couch to 5k podcast series from the NHS (which I used – I did one a week, even in Week 5 when there’s three to do) or my friend’s gateway run series of Zombies, Run! app which is also free and helps to gamify your running.

This comes with a caveat – listening to music or a podcast might reduce how much attention you’re paying to your actual surroundings, which includes dangerous things like cars, other people and pigeons.

I always ran the same route along busy, well-lit streets. This was so I could be easily seen by other people, which helped reassure me regarding my own personal safety. It was also so my partner could come and join me once the shame of being in bed while I pounded the streets motivated him to tie his own laces.

For more of a community feel, there are also the Park Run 5k runs too. I’ve been to a few and the volunteers are really lovely and encouraging.

Soundtrack: Runnin‘ (obviously) by Naughty Boy feat Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin.
If I’m wearing a hoodie, Lose Yourself by Eminem or Jesus Walks by Kanye West set up a nice pace with the right dose of ferocity.

Outdoor Gyms

I’ve seen these pop up in parks near me and I always like to pop my head in and have a go (as long as there aren’t too many people around). When the Hatchling is older, it’ll be great because they tend to be quite close to playgrounds too so kiddo can go have a play and I can sit on one of the machines and pretend that I am in the gym minus the smell, over stimulation and the mirrors. Wahoo!

Soundtrack: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
Juice by Lizzo, especially on anything that requires squeezing.

Honourable mentions go out to basketball, football and tennis that I might be able to do in free local courts… but you need at least a friend and some motor skills to play these, so I leave them well alone now.



Adrieeennnnnne! I like Yoga with Adriene because of the sheer variety of videos and that there’s a range of videos designed to help loosen tension. She also gives slightly differing postures so I can adjust if I find something’s not working for me. It’s gentle but helps me to extend myself at the same time. I’m no Elasta-girl (yet. Watch this space) but I definitely feel looser afterwards.

Basically, Yoga with Adriene is a mood and I’m here for it, when it’s raining a downpour and the Hatchling is trying to chew my ankle(s) off.


I’ve been doing Blogilates for years – I usually click on when I want to push myself and get stronger. Because Cassie is mad but in a good way. It’s been fascinating watching her thoughts and feelings on body image and fitness develop over the years.

My husband was highly sceptical of this because he thought her manner of talking was really irritating. Then I challenged him to do a 10 minute video and he said, “Ah, it’s to distract you from the pain. Damn, that was difficult!”

I subscribe to her newsletter so I also get a monthly calendar of different videos of hers that I could do every day if I were so inclined.
I am…not inclined.


My absolute favourite activity on this list and I’m doing it right now, to the music in my head.

Boogie woogie baby! Jimmy Fallon using his elbows and knees to great effect.

Normally, I just turn on the radio and challenge myself to really go for it for as many songs as I like. When I was younger, it used to be me and whatever music channels I could access for hours on end.

If you like more solid instructions, then the world’s your oyster: There’s’s got bellydance and ballet, hip hop and afrobeat, zumba and samba.

I prefer to freestyle, personally, which definitely means you’re likely to catch me body rolling into the Carlton before pretending I’m Shakira with a dose of early Ciara.

What are your favourite songs to groove boogie or jive to? I’m always up for some new (or old!) ones!

Credit: White Gold photography on

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