Looking for a way to get in shape, but don’t want to spend money on a pricey gym? Try running, jogging, or even walking (fast). It is probably the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to add fitness to your life. And believe it or not, it can also be fun! Yes, a 5K is the way to go if you are looking for Frugal Fitness & Fun!

Why 5K?

Five kilometers, or 3.1 miles, is a distance that almost anyone can complete without too much training. As running races go, it’s a nice distance, and you don’t have to do it alone. The 5K has become one of the most popular running events nationwide with tons of organized events to participate in with others. 

Running (or walking) a 5K with others provides good accountability. It makes me actually show up and work out. Here’s how things work in my mind. If I sign up for the event (and especially if there was an entrance fee), I’m going to be there. If I’m going to be there with other people, I want to do my best and not fall to the back of the pack. So, participating in organized 5K’s provides me with a little accountability too.

What’s so fun about it?

We’ve completed 5K races for Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, and event a pet-friendly 5K raising funds for a local shelter. In fact, it could be considered another frugal & fun date idea.

A collage of 5K races.

There are so many 5K events now that have added twists to make them even more enjoyable. Our most recent was a Foam Glow 5K™ — a fun filled experience exposing runners to Glowing Foam and a ton of Blacklight’s all over the course. They had a concert afterwards and dedicate the races to Childhood Cancer Awareness.

We also participated in a Tough Mudder, a messy, muddy, tough obstacle course that was also a blast! If you watch this video it looks really hard, but the great thing was the supportive atmosphere there. No one looked twice if you had to skip an obstacle. 

Free Training

If you’re worried you’re not in good enough shape to participate, then I recommend this free app: Couch to 5k. It is designed to take you from walking to running a full 5K in about 7-8 weeks. If you can get one other person to train with you, it helps keep you both motivated. My wife and I trained together and it really helped get us over the first challenge of running longer than 10 minutes.

We try to run outside as much as possible, but if the weather doesn’t allow look for free or low cost gyms. Many areas have community centers where the equipment may not be the best, but it will get the job done and the price is right! If you live in an apartment or condominium, you may have a fitness center that is included in your rent or homeowner’s fees. Finally, many companies are offering free (or reduced cost) gym memberships to help improve your health and reduce their healthcare insurance costs. So ask around, and see what is available to you. 

So what’s holding you back?

Go ahead and get out there and go for it!

Celebration at race finish line.


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