Running is AWESOME if you are broke

I was in Pasadena this past weekend for a wedding and knew I might not have a chance to get my yoga on with factors such as time, transportation, and of course, money.  Thanks goodness for my first love, running.

When I started college, I was SUPER concerned about the Freshman 15.  I spent a lot of my college years at the gym and running around the perimeter of the campus or around the track.  I remember running anywhere from 6-8 miles around the track with my discman nightly, usually close to 11 pm or midnight.  Then after each run, I would stop, lie down, and then look up at the sky, soaking up the runners high.  After college, I wanted to do something serious with my running and secretly was training for the LA Marathon.  I did it secretly because I didn’t want to to tell people I was planning on doing this in the event I failed.  I wasn’t even planning on buying my race entry until a month before the race – which was probably my way of sabotaging myself.  I ended up getting plantar fasciitis half way through my training, though I didn’t know what it was at the time, and stopped running.

During graduate school, I met friends who are runners and had done a couple of races and I was reinspired to try running again.  I had my foot examined by various people and the first thing everyone told me was to get an orthotic.  At $200, I couldn’t afford it and just got some inserts for my shoes.  I was determined to rehab my foot myself and did a lot of exercises and stretches (thanks in part to the help of a PT friend) and eventually lost the inserts and I can now run pain free.  Well, with the exception of the occasional injury.

So I went through a short history of my running only because I wanted to highlight that my running happened when I was a starving student.  I didn’t have much money and didn’t need much money to be a runner.  Here are some reasons why running is an awesome sport for those with limited funds:

1. The only gear you need are a good pair of running shoes (well, for the ladies, a supportive sports bra is also very important).  Since it’s pretty much the most important thing for this sport, I’m comfortable investing my money in something that will protect my feet and knees.  Again, it’s all about priorities, people.  There are pricier shoes out there but there are less expensive alternatives – I’ll leave that for another post.  Sure you can get all fancy with technical tees, gps watches, compression socks, and fuel belts but they aren’t necessary at all (I do own all these things minus the fuel belt).

2. You don’t need to have a membership of any kind to go running.  Running outside is free!  I love exploring the different neighborhoods around me and have actually discovered fun events happening in nearby parks when running by them.

3. Running can save you money in other areas.  I typically leave straight from my apartment for a run, which means I’m saving money on gas from not having to drive to a gym or studio.  And if you are not having to drive anywhere to get your workout in, that means you have more time where you can actually run or take care of all the important things going on in your life.

4. If you travel or commute a lot, staying fit and healthy on budget is easy if you are runner – you can do it pretty much anywhere.  The hotel I was staying at in Pasadena has a gym and almost all hotel gyms, no matter how small, include a treadmill.  When I was in Europe for a study-abroad trip, running was one of the best ways to explore the city.

How You Can Get FREE Yoga

So I’m currently unemployed, attend yoga classes 6-7 days a week, and I don’t pay anything for the classes.  Not one cent.  It’s the ultimate deal for someone without a job.  Pretty awesome, right?  Don’t worry, I’m about to tell you how you can get your yoga on for free as well.

The yoga studio I have been going to for the past few years (and also where I did my teacher training) is CorePower Yoga.  They have locations all over the US and are constantly expanding.  As with MANY yoga studios, CPY offers yoga for trade opportunities, where in exchange for your time helping out around the studio, you get free yoga!  Not bad! I noticed many of the studios look for cleaners and that could mean anything from helping to mop down the floors after a sweaty class to cleaning a bathroom.  Depending on the studio, the time commitment can range from three hours to as high as ten hours.  These yoga for trade positions are coveted, especially at popular studios.

At CPY, I believe they want someone who has been a member or at least attending classes somewhat consistently for a few months prior to signing up for a yoga for trade position.  The requirement probably means the studio wants someone who is familiar with their yoga community (teachers, style of classes, other students, etc) so relationships can be important, whether it’s at CPY or another studio.  Build authentic relationships with your instructors or the other students in class.  It’s just nice but it can also help get you into these positions a bit faster.  I met a student during teacher training and we practiced a lot with each other.  It turns out he was already a cleaner at one of the studios and was able to get my name to the top of a wait list for a cleaner position (unfortunately the time slots didn’t work out with my schedule at the time).  I had been taking a lot of classes from an instructor and she reached out to me for trade opportunities to help out at the front desk when I was in teacher training a couple of weeks later.  So yes, relationships can help you get on the fast track to free yoga.  It’s been a few months since I started the trade and it’s been awesome getting to know the instructors and the community better.

Okay, so it’s not completely ‘free’ but if you have the time, you can save so much money.  At around $100+ per month for a membership, imagine how many lulu see-through pants you can buy.

Yoga for the Rest of Us

Yoga is NOT cheap.  With classes averaging $15-25 per class, how do the masses afford to pay for yoga?  Getting a membership would definitely make sense if you attend classes a lot and some of the cheaper monthly membership rates I’ve come across are around $65/month.  But compared to $13/month that I used to pay for a 24 Hour Fitness membership, yoga and specialized fitness studios still seem inaccessible.  And then there’s the yoga clothes…yikes!  Hence this blog.

We all make priorities in our life on how we spend our time and money.  Over the past few years, much of my “disposable” income has been on health related items such as race fees, travel costs to get to races, yoga classes, and of course, all the gear that accompany the sports.  I always looks for discount codes, sales, or friends I can crash with when I travel for races.  When it comes to gear, I rarely go over the top and buy things that are unnecessary, at least in my opinion.  Yes, these costs have added up over the years but the way I see it, it’s still way cheaper than therapy, makes me feel good, and toned abs don’t hurt either.

I debated whether or not I needed to add to the noise on the internet when I started this blog.  Clearly, I decided to go ahead and do it for various reasons.  I’m currently unemployed and have a lot of free time on my hands and felt this would personally be a good outlet.  And while I’m currently not making any money now, I have worked and am looking for work in the nonprofit sector so I pretty much have been used to living paycheck to paycheck for the past seven years.  I’m always on the lookout for deals so I thought I would create this blog to share any resources, tips, and my experiences in navigating the running and yoga world on a very limited budget.

Happy Spring!