Starting a new exercise or sport? 5 lessons I learned about being frugal

When I started tennis, I bought a cheap racquet from a big-box sporting store.

When I started running, I bought appropriate running shoes but ones that were two models older, in order to get a bargain price.

When I started mountain biking, I bought an entry-level bike that checked the boxes of what I needed but was not going to break the bank.

When I started Yoga, I bought a mat and some bricks on sale at Amazon.

When I started Pilates, I found a coupon to get a good price on clothing that was stretchy and wouldn’t keep riding up.

The first three I stuck with, the last two not so much.

Whenever you decide on a new sport, hobby, or exercise class, it can be tempting to buy the very best equipment out there, but here are 5 lessons I have learned about being frugal when starting a new workout or hobby.

1. The novelty will wear off new gear

When you start a new activity it’s fresh, it’s exciting and you get to justify buying new outfits or equipment. While it can help with your motivation to start working out, eventually the love of the exercise will far outweigh the love of the “stuff.” If you have to buy new clothing or equipment, start with the bare minimum you actually need.

2. You may decide you don’t like the exercise after all

While I do still incorporate some of my favorite stretches from both Yoga and Pilates, I found the culture didn’t match my interests. Thankfully I tried some free classes at the YMCA and bought only the accessories that were a) cheap, and, b) I could use for other things.

3. It takes a while to learn your abilities, joys, and limitations

I went through 4 different running shoes before I finally figured out the ones that matched my running style, preferred distances, and minimized injuries. My first pair of running shoes were $50. When I finally realized what I needed, I invested in a pair that cost $140 and have not changed since.

4. You will get better and will then need the very best

When I started out playing tennis, I didn’t need much in the way of tennis equipment. I bought a cheap racquet from Dick’s Sporting Goods and a can of balls. My tennis shoes were found at a close-out sale…at a golf store! It wasn’t until I had been playing a couple of years did I decide to invest in a racquet that was close to $200! Since then, I have switched tennis racquets a few more times before finally finding the one that best fits my style of play. In other words, don’t buy the very best and expect it to make you the very best. Be frugal and look for a sale or last year’s clearance to get the job done until the time comes when you really do need the very best investment.

5. Reward yourself for achieving a goal

Set yourself a goal and then decide on a reward that also takes your hobby or exercise to the next level. This doesn’t have to be something you have to wait for years to achieve. I signed up for my first half marathon just weeks after I had started–and fell in love with–running. I would earn a shirt, a mug, and a beautiful finisher’s medal. However, I had to train for 3 months in order to achieve that goal. The commitment to a future race, the amount spent on the entry fee, and that shiny medal were the perfect combination to ensure I continued running for my health!

Bonus tip: Let eBay be your friend

Lastly, be sure to keep all original boxes and any instruction manuals when you make any purchase. You may find you outgrow your shoes and equipment, or may just get bored with the sport. Either way, clean it up and take photos including the original packaging and you’ll be able to sell the stuff you no longer need on eBay. I have actually sold some items for more than I paid for them because I bought them on sale, kept them clean, and retained the original boxes and manuals. 😉

Whatever new exercise you start, don’t risk frustration or injury by not buying the appropriate clothing or equipment. Certainly buy at least one thing that makes you feel pumped to get after it. Just don’t go all in and buy the very best, and most expensive, until you are confident in your commitment, enjoyment, and growth!


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