Low Cost and Free Family Fitness Ideas, Tools & Apps

Fitness Trail and Exercise Station

Bruce Sr. “Dad”,  BJ and I have almost always had some sort of physical activity in our lives spanning all kinds of interests such as tennis, soccer, hockey, running, rollerblading, aerobics, and more.   It’s just been something that we’ve consistently enjoyed in our lives so I thought we’d share some of our favorite new low cost and free fitness activities.     Note that most of these are geared for adult usage and may contain occasional adult language and themes.

Phone & Web Apps:

LoseIt:   A lot has been written about this app which is a robust and easy to use food/calorie/nutrition calculator.   It has a built in pedometer too which seems to be pretty accurate.   This app is free (and robust) with a paid yearly option if you’d like to be able to plan your meals days in advance or integrate with fitness devices.

Daily Burn:   My Uncle Bob told my dad about this one and mom and dad have been using it daily, for about two months now.  It’s a daily exercise regimen that you can tailor to your own interests and fitness level.   The video quality and interface are top-notch and easy to use.  I was impressed at how well the people at Daily Burn knew their target market and geared each workout level to those users (I was an Advertising major in college, I can’t help myself but notice these kinds of things!)  You can tell the developers put a lot of time and research into making this a fantastic app.  Cost:  Daily Burn is a $10/month subscription-based app after a 30 day trial,  but Dad thinks it’s well worth the cost. I certainly think it’s less expensive than a gym membership and the high quality of the videos and app make it well worth that price.

ZombiesRun! and Zombies5K trainer:   Look, sometimes you just need something fun and exciting to keep you motivated to do something challenging.  And what’s more motivating than a game where (pretend) zombies chase you so you have to run in real life to “escape?”   An exciting story unfolds as you run in real life.  Their 5k trainer is fantastic and got me up to that running distance without injury in 8 weeks.   Cost:  ZombiesRun! and Zombies5k trainer are about $5 and $3 respectively.

TheWalk:  Maybe zombies aren’t your thing?  Well, there’s a game called “TheWalk” put out by the same company as ZombiesRun! and it’s a story that unfolds as you walk or run in real life.  Cost: TheWalk is about $3.

RunKeeper and MapMyRide:   Similar programs that use GPS tracking to help you keep track of your time/distance.  These can be used for more than running though and Dad uses MapMyRide for his summer bike rides in his neighborhood or Rails to Trails located in Western Pennsylvania.   I use RunKeeper to keep track of my running and walking distances & time.  I’ve even used it to figure out how far we’ve walked when we go to amusement parks.  Cost: Free.


Untimed and Family Friendly local Run/Walk races:   Spring, Summer and Fall are prime time to sign up for a fun 5k run.   Many 5ks are now geared towards the “just want to enjoy running with a crowd” kind of people rather than elite athletes (think color runs, glow runs, and trail races).  Additionally, almost all of the ones I’ve seen in my area include a shorter, kids-only fun run as well.   A good site to check for your own town is RunningInTheUSA.com.  Also, if you have a particular charity you like to support, check out their own website to see if they happen to have any races scheduled.  Many do as races are popular fundraisers for these groups.    Cost: Prices vary depending on the race.

Local Playgrounds:   There are so many local playgrounds in the USA that you can discover if you just check your local municipalities websites.  Not only are playgrounds an obvious choice to let your kids get some exercise, but many of them have walking paths and exercise stations such as pull up bars and step-up benches which are geared towards teens and adults.  Of course, you could just run and play with your kids too!   We’ve found that playgrounds that have basketball courts are a great place to bring bikes, scooters, skates, and skateboards especially for those who are just learning. Cost: Free.

Running Tours:  Want a great way to explore your own city or sight-see while on vacation?   Running tours look like a great way to do this and I hope to try out one soon.  I’ve seen them for places like Pittsburgh, Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia and more.  It looks like they base their running pace on the groups desire and ability, so no need to worry about being left in the dust – even if you’re new to running!  Cost: Prices vary depending on the location and running tour company you use.  Most look to be less than $25-$35 range with higher prices for personal or specialty tours.



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Megan Fister is a website designer and manager of the Central Penn Adobe User Group in Harrisburg, PA. She loves technology and is married with a young daughter. She enjoys blogging on Homework Helper about technology and how it relates to children & education. Megan is BJ's sister and technical advisor to the Homework Helper Website.

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