Burn off the festive calories without burning through cash with our guide to low-cost fitness apps and gear

BURN off the Christmas calories without burning through cash.

On Tuesday, millions of us will vow to shape up, get fit or simply feel better in the year ahead.

Run off the extra Christmas pounds to start the new year fit and healthy
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It does not have to cost a packet either, as there are cheaper ways to get in shape than joining a gym.

If you already pay for a monthly membership, make sure you get your money’s worth from it.

And if you are not making use of your membership, cancel it and try some of these instead.


There are lots of free apps to help you shift the pounds
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THERE are hundreds of free apps you can download that will act as your personal trainer, tracking your fitness and encouraging you to push yourself.

Workout Trainer is good for beginners who want to get fit but do not have a lot of free time. You can search for workouts based on how much time you have, ranging from five to 60 minutes.

If you want to get into running, try the Weight Loss Running By Verv app.

You can do an eight-week weight-loss programme with runs three times a week, and train for a 5k, 10k or even a marathon.

Another popular option is the Nike Training Club (NTC) which offers a huge variety of workouts and challenges, some led by professional athletes including Cristiano Ronaldo and Serena Williams.

Many fitness apps offer extra features if you pay for them but NTC is completely free.


Why not try a fitness video on youtube or a yoga session?
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YOUTUBE fitness videos are the perfect solution for those who want to exercise without venturing into the cold.

If you’re up for a challenge, search for “30-Minute Tabata session to burn some serious calories”
uploaded by Popsugar Fitness, one of the most popular workout channels.

Tabata training is all about short bursts of intense activity followed by short breaks, known as HIIT (high-intensity interval training), so this video will get your heart pumping, and give you a few laughs to keep you going.

The Cafe Moms Studios channel offers boot camp training aimed at mums. Its 30-minute cardio video will also have you in a sweat with its sequence of high-intensity movements, including mountain climbs and burpees, followed by lower intensity recovery actions.

Yoga expert Sadie Nardini has a great video for beginners, just search for “20 Minute Weight Loss and Fatburning Yoga Workout”. It is perfect for a quick morning workout.


There are some low-cost gyms at council centres and pay as you gym options
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THERE has been an explosion in low-cost brands such as PureGym and Fit4less which charge as little as £8.99 a month for membership — although they don’t offer luxuries such as fluffy towels or saunas.

Fancier chains such as Fitness First can charge as much as £40 a month or more. Many gyms offer the option of a 12-month contract or a monthly rolling contract, which allows you to cancel sooner.

It is a bit more expensive but may prove to be better value if you aren’t getting your money’s worth and decide to quit.

If you want to try out new facilities in your area, don’t disregard budget chains and council centres as they can offer decent equipment at a much better price compared with the more upmarket brands.

It is also worth trying payasugym.com, a gym broker which offers pay-as-you-go passes to a range of facilities across the UK.

You can opt to buy a day pass or a bundle of five or ten visits, with discounts of up to 15 per cent compared with the usual gym prices.

A quick search for local gyms near to Tonbridge in Kent, for example, brings up the offer of a day pass to a private gym for just £4.50, with a bundle of five visits to be used over 30 days price at £20.25, or £4.05 a visit.

The Tonbridge branch of PureGym is more expensive at a cost of £8.99 for a day pass, or £24.99 a month, plus a £15 joining fee. But it may be more suitable for someone planning several trips a week as they will get anytime access.

The key factor in deciding what kind of pass you want is how much you will use it, and what kind of facilities you want.


Take part in your local Parkrun, free weekly 5km timed runs across the UK
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IF YOU don’t mind the cold, try one of the hundreds of free facilities in parks and outdoor spaces.

Often funded by councils and housing associations, outdoor gyms have much of the same equipment found in private gyms — cross-trainers, weights and bikes and rowing machines. Try your local council’s website to find your nearest.

Some councils provide free fitness classes, using organisations such as Our Parks, who provide qualified instructors to run varied sessions.

For those who are already able to run reasonable distances and fancy taking part in competitions, try a Parkrun. These offer free weekly 5km timed runs across the UK. You just need to register online.

ParkLives is another initiative offering completely free exercise classes for adults and children.

Classes are held in more than 130 outdoor locations including in Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle, and include yoga, pilates, Zumba and bootcamp.

Joining a gym

  • FIND a local gym and ask for a free taster day.
  • If you do not use a gym very often, see if you can buy day passes rather than monthly membership fees as it could be better value.
  • Check out your local council gym as it may offer decent equipment at much better rates compared with private gyms.
  • Do not pay a joining fee. Argue and haggle if they try to charge.
  • Try to save some money by using Tesco Clubcard points to sign up, or use a cashback website such as TopCashback or Quidco to get some money back on the deal.
  • Make sure you know what the gym’s rules are on cancellations. If you decide you want out, do it in writing and send it recorded delivery so you know the gym has received it.

Fitness tech


IF you’re looking for tech to help you in your quest for fitness here are some of your best options.

Of course they can’t actually DO the steps, swims, press-ups or yoga sessions for you.

But they can certainly help by tracking how many steps you’ve taken, how many calories you’ve burnt, and how those exercises are going . . . so you know what you, and your heart, are capable of.

Trackers and smartwatches are also good at gently reminding you when you’ve been sitting for too long, congratulating you when you hit your exercise target or encouraging you to set up friendly competitions.

Apple Watch Series 4

(From £399, apple.com/uk)

Apple watch
The Apple Watch automatically records outdoor walks in case you forget

THE perfect balance of advanced health capabilities and a simple, intuitive interface. It automatically recognises some activities, such as outdoor walks, so it records them if you forget.

Share your achievements with friends or challenge them.

There are dedicated settings for different workouts such as rowing, stepping, high-intensity interval training, hiking and yoga. Or swimming — this watch is waterproof. It has GPS and heart-rate sensors built in.

Treadmill York Active 120

(£399, amazon.co.uk)

This treadmill is ideal for casual joggers

RUNNING outdoors is tough in winter — but this could be the ideal answer for you.

It’s not for serious runners (the max speed is 10mph) but is fine for casual joggers and great for walking. Sensors give you heart-rate updates and preset programmes address your aims.

A big plus, it folds away when not in use

Withings Pulse HR

(From £119.95, withings.com)

Withings Pulse HR
Withings Pulse HR has a monochrome OLED screen

THIS new tracker is highly capable and looks good, with a monochrome OLED screen.

Battery life is a handy 20 days, it has great multisport tracking and includes smart alarms to wake you at the optimum moment in your sleep cycle so you rise feeling nice and refreshed.

Withings Steel HR Sport

(£189.95, withings.com)

Withings Steel HR Sport
An extra dial on the Steel HR Sport tracks your steps

THE most elegant of the smart watches, with minute- and hour-hands, an extra dial to track your steps and a small OLED screen to reveal heart rate and other metrics.

The battery lasts 25 days between charges. Built-in fitness apps from Speedo and MyFitnessPal can help you train and track your progress.

Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro

(£129, johnlewis.com)

Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro
Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro is waterproof and you can download music on to it

IF you fancy something with a bright, colourful display, the rugged, waterproof tracker from Samsung is fun. Like several gadgets here, you can download music on to the tracker to listen to through wireless headphones.

Although it’s made by Samsung, it’s compatible with an iPhone or other Android phones. Battery lasts around three days.

Fitbit Charge 3

(£129.99, fitbit.com)

Fitbit Charge 3
Sleek tacking is a strong feature on the Fitbit Charge 3

THIS is a slick tracker with excellent accuracy. The black-and-white screen is easy to read, even in bright sunlight. Like the Apple Watch Series 4, this is waterproof, though the Fitbit lacks GPS.

Sleep tracking is another strong feature and it is light enough to wear at night.

The heart rate monitor will measure resting heart rate as well as during exercise. The battery lasts up to a week.

Withings Body Cardio scales

(£129.95, withings.com)

Body Cardio scales
These smart scales tell you your weight and fat content

THE best smart scales on the market tell you your weight, muscle mass, BMI, fat content (sorry) and more.

These are handy to know as muscle is heavier than fat, so you could be getting fitter without getting lighter.

The measurements are saved to an app so you can track your weight over time.

Budget buy

Xiaomi Mi Band 3

(£26.99, mi.com)

Budget buy
Fitness tracking is less advanced but the 21-day battery life is a bonus

TINY and light, this tracker is phenomenal value and works well. Remarkably, for the price, it includes a heart-rate monitor, though no GPS.

Fitness tracking is less advanced than pricier rivals but the 21-day battery life is a bonus. The screen is not as bright as others featured here.