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Frugal Fitness: Repurpose Household Items to Exercise


In order for an exercise routine to take hold in your lifestyle, I’ve found that it needs to be convenient. What is does not need to be is expensive. Some might think that paying for a membership to gym will motivate them to go. Sorry, that’s bologna. Oh, and a waste of money because according to, 80 percent of 40 million Americans who have bought gym memberships are not using them.

What are we more likely to use? Exercise equipment that’s small, easily stored and burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time. The first things that comes to mind are sneakers. Pretty much everyone has those. To keep fitness crafty and creative, Eve of Reduction pulled together some useful exercise gear that you can make from repurposed household items.

1. Jump RopeDIY jump rope

Jumping rope for 10 minutes will produce a caloric burn of approximately 100 calories. Not too shabby.

To make this jump rope, my husband upcycled an old guitar cord. The handles were salvaged and reused from a Nordic Track we used to have. To keep the handles from sliding off the ends of the guitar cord, he coiled some duct tape on the end of the cord.

I realize that you can get jump ropes at the dollar store, but this is heavy, custom sized and really durable. Did I mention free?

2. Weighted Bagsklz-super-sandbag-heavy-duty-training-bag

Reduction Rebel Cindy Sawyer made an old sport tote gym bag into a weighted bag that she can do squats with,
and arm swings.

The weight can be adjusted by adding different weights of sand or rice. Cindy used two 10 lb bags of rice for a 20 lb weighted bag. She cut out the
old shoulder strap and sewed it to different areas of the bag to give herself the option of placing her hands in different areas of the bag.

Here is a similar product that’s selling for, wait for it, $50. Can I just say YIKES! Nice frugal fitness repurposing, Cindy!

hulahoop3. DIY Hula Hoop

Julie from Gleeful Things used irrigation tubing to make a heavy, adult quality hula hoop. The weight helps it keep it’s momentum, which makes it easier to use! She decorated them with fancy and functional tapes, which add to the ease of use.

I have used several of these irrigation tube hula hoops and they’re really the best. As Julie points out in her hula hoop tutorial, 100 foot roll of tubing might cost $50 but you’ll get about 8 hoops out of it. So why not split the cost with some friends and have a hoop making party. Julie, this is seriously on my bucket list.

And check this out, a study done in 2010 by the American Council on Exercise revealed that working out with a Hula-Hoop burns as much as 210 calories in only half an hour. So if you do it for 10 minutes, you can burn about 70 calories! Here’s a hula tip from a two-time champ (me!): the smaller the hula hoop, the more calories you burn.


What DIY exercise gear have you made?

I’m Cristin Frank (AKA Eve). I love all things frugal and crafty. My mindset is always on upcycling, repurposing, reducing waste and saving money – and Eve of Reduction is my roadmap. You might also want to check out my book, "Living Simple, Free & Happy."

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3 Responses to Frugal Fitness: Repurpose Household Items to Exercise

  1. absolutenutrition October 1, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    In present time every person is busy they have no time for fitness. but evey person want to fit at this time . so i thing your article related to helth is very beneficial. thanks for posting such article.

    absolute nutrition

  2. EngineerMom October 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    I have to say, I disagree about the gym membership when it comes to the YMCA. Our Y membership is $70/month in Seattle, and between the free-to-members classes, the swimming pool that we use all year round, the 2 hours a day of childcare for both my kiddos, and just the community of supportive people (members and staff) who miss us when we don’t come, to me, it’s worth every penny. We live in a small apartment with a small living room where it simply isn’t practical to exercise indoors. I do ride my bike with the kiddos in a trailer since we don’t own a car, but I would never give up that access to childcare and a pool!

    • Eve October 23, 2013 at 9:58 am #

      Yes, I agree. When a gym membership means stress relief and family time, it’s a great financial decision, especially in you case where you’ve downsized your living space.

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