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Does Sport Have to Be Expensive?

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 10 Jun 2010 |
Does Sport Have To Be Expensive?

These days, everything seems to be expensive, from the gym membership or admission fees to the clothes and kit, and parents might be wary of encouraging children and young people to try new sports because of the cost. There are ways to keep the costs down of many sports, and some sports cost very little or nothing at all.

Reduced Admission

Some local councils have schemes to allow local residents, especially children and young people, and people on low incomes lower cost or even free entry to swimming pools, gyms and leisure centres. Look out for information about free courses and offers in the local paper, or get onto the leisure centre’s mailing list. It’s always worth ringing up and asking what’s available too.

Low-Cost Sports

After the initial cost of the shoes or the bike (and helmet), walking, running and cycling are free, and can be fitted into everyday routines too. Walk the dog, cycle to the shops rather than going by car or bus, or run home from school or college a couple of days a week, and use a pedometer to keep track of the number of steps. Running shoes should be bought from new, but they don’t necessarily have to be the most expensive ones. Bikes and helmets (and even the clothes) can be bought second-hand.

Free Sports

Using the local park is free – kick a ball around, throw a Frisbee, play tag, walk, fly a kite, climb in the adventure playground or go on the swings (but do check the regulations first, as some parks don’t allow ball games).


Rather than joining an expensive gym, why not do-it-yourself? There are alternatives to a lot of the exercises found at a gym (see also ‘DIY Exercise Equipment’)…
  • Exercise bike or spinning classes – cycle through the park, or to and from school or college.
  • Step aerobics or step machine – use the stairs instead of the lift when out, run up and down the stairs at home, or step up and down the bottom step or a low step stool.
  • Weight training – make weights out of milk cartons filled with water, sand or rice, or use phone books or tins of beans.
  • Treadmill – go for a run, adding in hills when possible.
  • Rowing machine – skip using a skipping rope.
  • Yoga, Pilates and aerobics (and even belly dancing!) – borrow a DVD from the local library, look out for a second-hand copy, hunt for videos and lessons on YouTube, or just dance wildly to music (perhaps when no-one is looking…)

Clothes and Other Kit

Some sports do need specialist clothes and kit, such as the outfit for martial arts, or bats and racquets for cricket, tennis, badminton and squash. Many clubs, schools and colleges have second-hand sales for outgrown kit or will hire or lend it out, especially when trying out a new sport. It’s worth keeping an eye on Freecycle or other recycling sites for people having a clear out, and charity shops can be a good source too. Just remember to pass it on afterwards.

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