A Broke College Student’s Guide to Staying Fit During the Holidays

Finals are finally over and the first thing you want to do is hole up in your room and hibernate. Working out is probably the last thing you want to do. This is exactly what went through my mind as I was driving home after I completed my last final of the semester. Although the abundance of delicious food and the cold, cuddle inducing weather makes dampens the motivation to exercise, it is important to keep on moving! Being a frugal gal, I’m here to tell you that exercise does not have to be expensive. Here is my guide to staying fit this holiday season, for little to no cost:

  1. #OptOutside Yes, like REI’s campaign to encourage everyone to hike on Black Friday, instead of shopping. This mentality also serves as motivation to exercise outside more. Whether it’s going on a hike with family/friends or pounding the pavement alone, go outside! I don’t know about you, but workouts always seem to go by a lot faster outside.
  2. DIY home circuit training- By definition, an exercise circuit is the completion of all prescribed exercises in the program. This is great because you don’t have to go to the gym to see a personal trainer, you can just create your own exercise circuit. I do this all the time, pulling inspiration from Pinterest (see my fitness board here) and various fitness Instagram accounts (Nicole Mejia, Get Fit and Thick, My Trainer Carmen, etc). From here, I’ll follow (and sometimes even create) different circuits that focus on upper body, lower body, core, and total body.
  3. Netflix and Workout- Need to catch up on the latest season of Game of Thrones? Stranger Things? Both? Do a Netflix challenge, workout edition. Similar it’s drinking challenge cousin, the workout challenge usually has a specific exercise for when a popular line is said or when a character comes on screen. This version is much healthier and you’re liver will thank you! For example, a challenge could call for 10 squats when Cersei plots to take the Throne or 5 burpees when Eleven says “Papa”. Look on Pinterest for more workout challenges Or create your own! Do it with a friend and you’ll be getting a much better workout than ‘Netflix and Chill’.
  4. Explore the city on foot- If you are traveling to a new and/or big city for the holidays, take in the sights by foot (or bike). By traveling this way, you are more able to discover those whole-in-the wall restaurants and places all while getting your blood flowing. Why wait in a long line or pay tons for parking when you can see more sights? The best part is that it won’t feel like you’re working out and you are saving money!
  5. Take advantage of gym promotions- If you’re like me and have a small collection of gym membership promotions from race swag bags, out them to use this holiday season. Although typical gym promo is a week long and starts the first day you go, it’s still free! This gives you time to try out the equipment, the classes, and get an overall feel of the atmosphere. I’ve done this before and they do try to sell you a membership but I always decline (for obvious reasons). If you enjoyed your experience, then get that membership! You do you!
  6. Pledge to run- Set a goal of running 25 miles by New Year’s Eve, run 1 mile every day for a month, or create your own pledge to be one with the road. When I ran cross country in high school, I ran 350 miles during the summer to condition for the upcoming season. I have never done so much, physically, for a free shirt and certificate acknowledging my feat. Your pledge can be as simple or as challenging as you make it. Log your miles in an app, journal, and even on social media by using a hashtag- it’ll keep you accountable.
  7. Watch TV- Yep, you got that right! Rent a fitness DVD from your local library, borrow one from a friend, or look up a video on Youtube and get going!
  8. Create a family fitness tradition- One of my fondest childhood memories involve the annual kickball game my family played during Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. This game usually happened outside on the street of the cul de sac and we would use doormats as bases. Kids versus Adults, loser has to wash the dishes at the end of the day. There’s just something about family competitiveness that really motivates you to exercise..
  9. Have a dance party- Whether you have the house to yourself or are at a family gathering, move around the furniture, create a dance floor, and connect your phone to a speaker and blast the music! Last year, around the holidays, I was at an aunt’s house for a party. I connected my phone to their bluetooth speaker and brought up my dance party playlist on Spotify. Once the beat of Earth,Wind and Fire’s ‘September’ came on, everyone that was eating immediately came to the dance floor and let loose. The feeling of awe and accomplishment I got is what I imagine what DJ’s feel when their music hypes up their audience. So what is a surefire way to creating a bomb playlist? Pay attention to the age range of the audience; if an older generation, top hits from the 70s-90s is a safe bet while current top 40 hits and late 90s-early 00s hip hop/rap will cater to the younger generation. I have two playlists for occasions like this: one that is multi-generational friendly and the second that is a little more explicit and will make the dance floor ‘lit’ (the name of the second playlist is ‘LIT’ and yes, I’m being totally serious).
  10. Clean the house- Believe it or not, cleaning the house can be a great workout. From Lifting boxes to shelves and cleaning up the yard, not only are you getting the house spick and span but you are also increasing your heart rate. So get to it!

That wraps up my game plan to staying fit during the holidays. So go ahead and enjoy that slice of cake, don’t hesitate in snagging those last pieces of lumpia. By exercising a little bit each day, you are helping keep your body in shape. Honestly, this can apply to everyday life: for changing up the scenery to motivation to get back to exercising. How do you motivate yourself to workout during the holidays? Do you have any family fitness traditions? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to read about it!

Happy Holidays,


Featured image courtesy of Google Images


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Travel Enthusiast. Avid Runner. Baking Fanatic

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