Get fit, healthy and beautiful on a budget

We love a bargain. Scoring one is right up there with stumbling on a Ryan Gosling blog, giving us a cheap thrill. To help you get the best heath, fitness, beauty and nutrition deals, we’ve come up with a load of clever cost-trimming tricks, like how to whip up a healthy five-star meal for less than R100, get a professional haircut for peanuts, or slice your gym membership fee in half (without having to put the moves on your trainer). It’s all yours for taking…

Ways to save… at the gym

Description: Description: Yoga Balls

Fitness – whip your butt into serious shape – without wrecking your bottom line

Train in twos

Personal-training sessions can get you back anywhere from R250 to R700 (or more) per session, depending on the gym. But signing up with a friend to share a trainer can slash the cost by more than 50 percent. Plus, you’ll be extra motivated to pump out those last few biceps-curls when you see your friend powering through them next to you.

Free no-string trials

Stock up on free weekly passes from different gyms and switch your workout location each week. A month’s worth of free workouts can save you up to R1000. You’ll eventually have to commit, but this buys you time to try out each gym and make a smart choice.

Cut the fat

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Some facilities offer a one-price-for-all structure. For example, your monthly fee includes the use of the gym, locker rooms and group fitness classes reminds you of Eighties synchronized aerobics and you’d rather not to go there, you shouldn’t pay for something you aren’t going to use. Explain this when discussing the membership fee and see if you can strike a better deal.

Cram in the crunches

Spy on a trainer giving a session at any gym and you’re bound to see plenty of chatting and ample water breaks. Not on your watch (or wallet)? Ask your gym if they book 30-minute training sessions. Not only do mini workouts cut the price in half; they’re also more efficient. Leaving no time to rest keeps your heart rate elevated, so you burn more kilojoules. (Think of it as free cardio).

Be honest about your budget

Like scoring a good body, scoring a good deal takes legwork. Let’s say you’ve found the gym for you – it has everything you need, where you need it. The only problem is the fee. You should sit down and explain your situation. Gyms want to gain new members, so speak up – they may have financial assistance.

Sweat in style

Our top picks for the best workout gear under R500

The shoe buy

Description: Description: New Balance 470 Women's Running Shoes

New balance women’s 470 (R499, Sportsmans Warehouse)

Ideal for the treadmill junkie

Saving tip: Buy past-season models of your fave trainers. As new stock comes in, so stores rush to clear out old ranges – they’re essentially the same shoe, but much cheaper.

The bra buy

Description: Description: a high impact sports bra

Maxed high impact bra (R159, Mr Price Sports)

Perfect for running and field sports

Saving tip: Rotate your bras and wash them regularly so you can get at least a year’s use out of each one.

The best burn for your buck

Description: Description: Do you know which workouts offer the most calorie-burning bang for your buck?

At first glance it doesn’t look like much: just a rope and two handles. But this school-ground fave (R40, Sportsmans Warehouse) “is probably the best all-round piece of exercise equipment you can own,” says Nicolas Caracandas, personal trainer at One80 gym in Cape Town. “Skipping has added resistance, which burns more kilojoules, and added benefits when toning and shaping muscles”. In fact, according to the Compendium of Physical Activities (which classifies activities according to the rate of energy you expend doing them), skipping for 10 minutes at a moderate pace can burn as many kilojoules as running one kilometre at a four minute per kilometre pace (the average active woman runs a six- to eight- minute kilometre). Here’s a fat-blasting routine worth your buck:

The technique:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with your weight on the balls of your feet and your knees slightly bent. Jump up from the balls of your feet, pointing your toes downward as you lift off (to minimize impact yet still promote bone strength, jump only a centimetre off the floor). Do 10 sets of 10 jumps, increasing the number of jump until you can do 100 jumps non-stop. Once you’ve mastered that, build up to 500 non-stop jumps and then move on to this five-move circuit:

The plan:

1.    Basic bounce + alternate step

Warm up with a combination of the basic bounce and the alternate step (jump with one foot on one turn of the other foot for the second, as it jogging in place). Jump for one minute, alternating between the two every four jumps.

2.    Forward + backward line hops

Place the rope in a straight line on the floor in front of you. Jump forward, landing softly on your toes with the rope behind you immediately jump back to start. Continue for one minute.

3.    Body-weight squats

Fold the rope in half and hold it taut above your head, as you would a body bar. Squat down and up for one minute, keeping your arms and core engaged.

4.    High knee lifts

Do the alternate step, but as you lift each foot, bend your knee and raise it towards your chest while maintaining your skipping pace. Continue alternating for one minute.

5.    Alternate-step sprint

Finish strong with one minute of the alternate step: jump as fast as you can without breaking form.

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