3 Budget Fitness Ideas That Keep Your Wallet Fat

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A healthy body and healthy mind is crucial to our well-being, but I want a healthy bank account too. Let's explore a few budget fitness ideas that accomplish all of these.
A picture of a crowded gym with the post title - "3 Fitness Ideas That Keeps Your Wallet Fat".

Staying healthy has always been on the top of my priorities. I mean… what’s the point of becoming a frugal millionaire if we don’t have the mental or physical wellbeing to enjoy our hard-earned moolah, right?

But sometimes, fitness can become quite costly. As much as I appreciate a good workout, I don’t like how it’s moving me further away from my financial goals. I want to stay fit, but at little to no expense. Frugal, if you will.

In my quest to search for the perfect balance between fit and rich, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way that I thought might be worth sharing. Forget about the fancy treadmills. Forget about the RM 5,000 vibration shake machine. Here are 3 budget fitness ideas that you can use to stay fit.

Disclaimer: Everything that I’m about to share is of my own opinion based on what I’ve tried and has worked for me. But I’m not a certified professional in fitness, healthcare, or wellness so please do consult a doctor before engaging dieting changes or physical activity.

16/8 Intermittent Fasting

When you eat less, you pay less for food. *mental explosions*

Of course, I’m not suggesting that we should starve ourselves of nutrition just to save a few dollars. But if your goal is to eat less, I think what I’m about to share may be worth exploring.

Going waaay back, my first attempt at a diet is to skip carbohydrates for dinner. I live in Malaysia and for those who aren’t aware, Asian cuisines are very, VERY savory so it’s almost impossible to enjoy without rice. This diet is probably one of the top three worst ideas ever known to mankind.

Second attempt. I try to break down larger meals into smaller portions that spread out throughout the day. It’s doable on weekends but I can’t imagine excusing myself from work every other hour just to eat. Between diet and my financial stability, I chose to keep my job.

A food-loving friend of mine once jokingly told me that you can’t spell the word “diet” without “die”. I’m starting to believe that maybe he is right.

I’ve moved on since then. But somewhere along the line, I came across a new way to fast that saves both time and money. They call it the 16/8 intermittent fasting. 

What is 16/8 intermittent fasting?

The idea is simple, you fast for 16 hours and only eat within an 8 hours window. 

For example, you can either…

  • Skip dinner and only consume food between 9am to 5pm, or
  • Skip breakfast so you only eat between 12pm to 8pm.

At first glance, 16 hours seems a tad too long but when you realise that the time you spend sleeping is counted towards your fast, the whole thing seems A LOT more doable.

In fact, some of you may already be doing intermittent fasting without even realizing it.

Benefits of 16/8 fasting

At first, I thought that intermittent fasting is just a way that facilitates fat loss by eating less. While that’s true, there seems to be a much wider impact on our body across the board.

But I’m not a health expert so I’d rather point you towards a more trustworthy source instead! I think the first point on the article 10 Evidence-based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting by healthline sums it up perfectly.

Basically, intermittent fasting increases our metabolic rate, which burns more calories. At the same time, it also reduces our food intake, which decreases the amount of calories we take in. The net effect is that we retain much lesser calories within our body. Less calories, less weight. Boom.

Oh, and it triggers autophagy which helps to keep us young too. Double boom.

Did it work for me?

Are you kidding me? Of course! Rarely do I find something that fits into my life as perfectly as this. My magic formula is to fast in the morning and only eat within 1pm to 9pm.

I’ll explain myself.

When I don’t need to prepare breakfast, I get an extra 30 minutes in the morning. You can imagine my joy when I wake up and realised that I have another half an hour to snooze.

A freshly baked potato resting on a plate.
Me when my alarm wakes me up.

By the time it’s noon, my appetite is usually quite worked up because I didn’t have breakfast so sometimes I do overeat and feel sleepy afterwards. But over time, I’ve learnt to control myself to only consume a regular, human-size portion.

If I feel hungry in the evening, I’ll just snack on healthy nuts as I work. I usually like to get them from Signature Market [affiliate] because I value the convenience of ordering online.

To my delight, my body eventually adapts to the smaller portion and now I am perfectly satiated with my normal portion meals.

It might just be a placebo effect, but I feel that intermittent fasting has helped me redefine my relationship with hunger. Back then, whenever I feel hungry, I need to eat or I would feel very agitated, but now my mind just acknowledges my hunger, and I can move on. I’m weird, I know.

I’ve been doing it for close to a year now with no intention of slowing down. It’s more like a lifestyle now rather than a one-off diet program.

Tabata Workouts

More than just a collection of fancy workout equipment, gyms fosters a very special kind of community. When we always go to the same gym at the same time on a specific day, we’ll bump into the same people who also prefer to workout at the same gym at the same time. Over time, we’ll notice them and they will notice us.

We might start acknowledging each other with a simple nod. But before you know it, we’ll be having small talks, sharing anything and everything in between our most favourite workout routines, to why we name our 3rd cat Dumbledore. It can be pretty fun.

While I understand that going to the gym has its own appeal, but hot damn, look at how much they are billing us.

GymMembership Price
Chi FitnessRM 130~150/month
Anytime FitnessRM 190/month
Celebrity FitnessRM 200~285/month
I love a good workout, but yikes!

These gym memberships can make a serious dent to your bank account. To put things in perspective, monthly car installments for a brand new Perodua Bezza is only about RM 400 for a 10 years loan. If you’re not making enough trips to the treadmills to make it worthwhile, maybe it’s time we bring the workouts back to our home.

Trying Tabata at Home

When it comes to home exercise, my favourite has got to be Tabata.

Tabata is a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that lasts only four minutes in total. It consists of 8 rounds of 20 seconds exercise at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest.

The keyword here is maximum effort. The training requires you to give every 20 seconds round your absolute best, at 100% intensity. Even though it’s only 240 seconds, you should feel completely exhausted by the end of the session. Otherwise, you’re doing it wrong.

A proper Tabata workout should look something like this…

  • Jumping Jacks (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Squats (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Burpees (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Pushups (20 seconds)
  • Rest (10 seconds)
  • Repeat Exercise #1 to #4

It’s a flexible routine and works with any exercises. You can either add in more variety of exercises or if you’re up for it, do 8 sets of one exercise. Your call.

The concept of Tabata was named after Izumi Tabata, a researcher who discovered in his study that short, quick bursts of maximum efforts can have a far better impact on our overall fitness than drawn-out, medium intensity workouts.

Tabata is a great way to put one foot into the more intense HIIT workouts because the duration is so short, it’s easy to commit to it and eventually make it a habit.

Did it work for me?

I’ve only discovered Tabata during the Movement Control Order period amid the Covid-19 pandemic. With all the gyms closed, I’ve decided to do some home workouts and this is something that I’ve come across then and there. It turned out to be an absolute gem.

Every morning, my siblings and I would lay out the yoga mats and lay it in front of the television. As we warm up, my brother would switch on YouTube and pick one of the Tabata videos by AllBlancTV.

Then, all hell breaks loose. Tabata is like high-intensity workouts on steroids. It may be short, but it felt like the longest 4 minutes of my life.

That said, MCO has been lifted but we kept the habit going. I loved the time-saving aspects of the routine because it takes less than 20 minutes all-in even if you include the warm up, shower, and even chit-chat post workouts. For me, these Tabata sessions double down as quality time with family too.

In comparison, gym sessions would usually eat up an hour or two. So if you’re looking for a time-saving, money-saving, fat-burning idea, Tabata is one that I would recommend.

Fitness App Referral

When I was still a kid in primary school, my parents signed me up for badminton classes. I was “extremely well-grown” for my age and out of genuine concern for my health, I think they just wanted me to get some exercise.

I like the intensity of badminton. Throughout my high school and university life, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by friends who enjoy the sport as much as I do so I kept playing badminton.

It has been my go-to sport and even now, I still play badminton twice a week. BUT- sometimes I feel it’s a little bit too expensive.

Let’s leave out all the occasional expenses (racquet, re-strings, badminton grips, shoes) for now. Every time we want to play badminton, we need to pay for the court and the shuttlecock.

  • Each badminton court costs ~RM 25 per hour. We usually play for 2 hours on one court, so that’s RM 50 for the venue.
  • Each shuttlecock costs ~RM 5 each. We use approximately 5 shuttlecocks per session, totaling RM 25.

If we play doubles with 4 players (which is more economical than playing singles with 2 players), that works out to be about RM 20 per person, per session. Play it twice a week and it becomes RM 160 per month, almost on par with an elite gym membership fee.

It doesn’t cost a kidney yet, but if there is a way to cut the cost, I would jump at it. Turns out, SportifyApp does just the trick.

What is SportifyApp?


Hang on, read it again. Sportify. Yeap, that wasn’t a typo. It’s spelled the same as the renown music streaming Spotify app, but with an extra “r”. Clever marketing, eh? It didn’t work out for them. The confusing title is met with backlash on Google Play.

Instead of playing music on demand, this app is a digital platform for venue booking, game organizing, and finding players for sports. You can read more about it on SportifyApp’s official website. Their database has a decent selection of sports venues which can be really helpful when looking for a new place to play.

But what really piqued my interest is its referral program. Whenever you refer a friend, both you and your friend get RM 20 free credit each. That’s RM 40 per pop!

Here’s how you can claim it. After you’ve downloaded the app and registered for an account, go to the menu on the top left corner and click on the rewards tab. Over here, type in your friend’s referral code and both of you will be rewarded with free credits. If you don’t have a referral code, feel free to use mine (WQWXK10).

A screenshot of SportifyApp mobile app user interface on referral program.
I don’t use the app for much else, but I cannot say no to free money!

The beauty of this is that if you’re playing group sports, you already have a lot of kaki’s to refer to. Since we each get RM 20 for every friend that we refer, it works out to be RM 160 by sharing among 4 friends, or RM 320 among 8! 

On top of that, it doesn’t feel like pushing unsolicited insurance sales because the credit usually circulates within the group and everyone gets to enjoy a cheaper rate for venue bookings.

Now that’s what I’d call a win-win situation.

Did it work for me?

It did.

Among my circle of friends, the one who organizes our badminton sessions is super extroverted and he managed to rack up quite the credit through referral. Being the persuasive person he is, he managed to convince his father, mother, uncle, aunt, brother, sister, and just about anyone with a phone to use his referral. It’s a tad too extreme but we literally played badminton for over a year without paying a single dime, except for shuttlecocks.

Fyi, I did notice that sometimes that promo code doesn’t work. It just says invalid code even though we have not used it before, which is odd. To be honest, sometimes I do question the reliability of the app because it doesn’t seem very well made. But who am I to complain when it’s literally free money.

Edit: Lately, I haven’t seen much activities on their official website or their mobile app. Frankly speaking, I don’t know if they are still in business or if the referral program still works. Need confirmation on this. Maybe my friend put them out of business by referring too much.

Just My 2 Cents


That sums up the three effective budget fitness ideas that I use to stay fit. I do have to clarify that I don’t think these approaches are for everyone. Some may find it helpful, some may not.

But at the end of the day, I want to show that exercising doesn’t necessarily require expensive gears or gym membership. I want to encourage creativity and hopefully, spur you into finding your own (scientifically-proven) ways in optimizing both health and wealth.  

Do you have a quirky but effective fitness idea?

Psst… Every time you share, you help someone somewhere to become a frugal millionaire!

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2 years ago

Casey this is such an informational article!


[…] 3 Budget Fitness Ideas That Keep Your Wallet Fat – Frugal […]

1 year ago

Great article. I have been doing the 16/8 fasting for several months now. For the first week, it was more mental than anything. Since I was never a big breakfast person, just having a coffee and water in the AM works great to get me to noon. I have always kept a “no food after 8pm” deadline, this works perfect for me.

About Me  

Casey Cheng is the author/owner of frugal-millionaire.com. Graduated with a Masters in Engineering, he can calculate the square root of 3 in his head but the answer often reminded him of his bank account balance. Eager for a change, he embarks on a personal mission to find his pot of gold and hopefully, through sharing, inspire people to start their own journey on becoming a frugal millionaire.

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