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A Minimalist Approach to Fitness

This is a guest post from my friend Jen, the voice behind the Frugal Millennial. She’s passionate about helping millennials lead healthier lives – financially, physically, and mentally. Last year, she decided to make healthy changes in her life and I love how her minimalist lifestyle influenced her approach!

When I committed to losing 50 pounds last year, I decided to make some major changes to my diet and exercise habits. After beginning my journey, I quickly realized that some of the more traditional approaches (such as counting calories and high-intensity exercise) weren’t going to work for me.

I felt that my new habits shouldn’t make me miserable – getting in shape was a good thing, and it should make me feel good. I didn’t want to be stressed out and overwhelmed by weight loss strategies that didn’t work. I wanted to create a plan that I would be able stick to for a long time.

I decided that I need to take a minimalist approach to fitness.

In this guest post, my friend Jen shares how she took a minimalist approach to fitness when she committed to losing 50 pounds last year.

Minimalism is about getting rid of the things that don’t matter so we can focus on the things that do. Adopting a minimalist lifestyle allows us to reduce clutter, save money, and live more simply. The same principles that can be applied to decluttering our homes (and our budgets) can be applied to fitness.

The fitness industry, like most other industries, makes money by convincing you to buy things that you really don’t need. They overcomplicate healthy living so that they can sell you overpriced gym memberships, personal training packages, supplements, FitBits and other gadgets, and all kinds of other items that you don’t need.

Let’s take yoga for example. What do you need in order to do yoga?

A cheap yoga mat and some comfortable clothing. That’s it.

But when I tried yoga for the first time during a week-long free trial at a yoga studio, I discovered that studios will try to convince you that you need so much more. They’ll tell you that you need a block, a yoga wedge, a yoga strap, a $40 yoga mat, stylish $100 yoga pants and tank tops, a yoga towel, a strap or bag to carry your yoga mat, and so on.

Instead of buying in to these false ideas that you need to blow a bunch of money on things you don’t need, here are some tips for adopting a minimalist approach to fitness.


Life is too short to waste it doing things you hate. If you can’t stand running, don’t run. If you think you hate all exercise, try some different types of exercise that you’ve never tried before. You may not be a runner, but maybe you would love starting a walking program, becoming a yogi, going to Zumba classes, or doing acrobatics.

I used to think that I hated all types of exercise, but I just hadn’t found the right types of exercise for me. I hate running and I’m terrible at sports, but I love spin class, yoga, and Zumba. You’ll never know if you like something until you try it! Find what works for you. Whatever you choose, keep moving.


Following a strict diet plan can get complicated if the diet has numerous different rules about what types of food you have to avoid or how many calories you’re allowed in a given day. Instead of following a fad diet, try changing your lifestyle. Eat more fruit, vegetables, and other whole foods, and eat less processed food.

Eat when you’re hungry, and stop eating when you’re full. If you switch from a diet heavy in processed food to a whole food diet, you’ll probably notice that you become full much more quickly.

RELATED POST: Simple Eating: How I Learned to Save Money, Reduce Stress + Spend Less Time in the Kitchen


If we focus too much on appearance, we will probably never be satisfied with how we look. There will always be someone who’s thinner, stronger, or more attractive. Focusing on image is demotivating, and ultimately, meaningless. Instead, focus on health. Think about all of the things that you can do now that you couldn’t do a few weeks, months, or years ago. Notice how much stronger you are than you used to be.

Whenever I feel frustrated because I hit a weight loss plateau, I remind myself that my healthy habits are still having a positive impact on my health. I think of how difficult yoga was when I went to my first yoga class, and I realize how far I’ve come. I’m not an advanced yogi, but there are many poses that have become much easier than they used to be because I’m so much stronger than I was before.


Don’t waste money on a swanky gym membership, a personal training package, or fitness-related gadgets (like a Fit Bit) if you’re never going to use those things.

If you want to get in shape, all you really need are some comfortable clothes and a water bottle. If you’re going to work out at home, you might want to purchase some handheld weights or a yoga mat. None of these things need to be expensive.

REALTED POST: Getting Started with Minimalism: 5 Things Not to Do


Minimalism is about getting rid of the things that weigh us down so we can focus on the things that actually matter. If your diet or exercise plan is making you miserable, try a different approach. Find a type of exercise that you truly enjoy, eat healthy foods that you like, and focus on improving your well-being. Getting in shape won’t be easy, but it should make you feel good – both physically and mentally.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read about how Jen and her husband are paying off $117k in student debt in three years or connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram.

Do you take a minimalist approach to fitness? In what other parts of your life to you take a ‘minimalist approach’? Let me know in the comments! x

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19 thoughts on “A Minimalist Approach to Fitness”

  1. A big soda bottle filled with water is an excellent starting weight for many exercises and it’s very cheap and weight can be adjusted if it’s too heavy full. (I prefer fanta bottles as they are slimmed and easy to grip)

  2. My favorite minimalist fitness workout was when we lived about a mile from my son’s school. I would just run him and his brother to school in the jogging stroller in the morning and then run the long way back. It was so easy because I had to go out anyway. I miss those days. When I had my 3rd kid, I just did it in the afternoons instead.

  3. I love Jen on her blog, too! I totally agree with all of this – running is 100% free. And it’s one of the best workouts out there. I think people do easily get caught up in making this huge commitment to fitness when really, it’s just a bunch of little steps every day.

  4. I really loved this post and I think it is such a good message. I know so many people who want to start getting fitter and make a go of it but after only a month can’t keep it up because its too expensive. Gym memberships, clothes and gadgets really add up and it’s something I had to scale down on when my boyfriend and I decided to go travelling. Now I own 3 workout outfits a mat and a set of dumbbells and I’ve never been fitter or happier in my workout routine. Great Post!

  5. Love this post! Getting back into shape and losing a good chunk of weight is my top priority this year and I love this approach. We hear so much that we have to “go big or go home” or workout until it hurts in order to be successful. I truly believe that health and fitness can be easy, fun, enjoyable, and something we want to be consistent with. Thank you for this <3

  6. How does a minimalist workout warderobe look like? Lol.

    After I shifted my intentions from weightloss to “a time out for myself doing my body good”, I’ve been hitting the gym 4-5 times a week. However, now I constantly need to wash clothes to make sure I have clean gymwear, yet feeling guilty if I buy more clothes.

    I really struggle on where to put the line when it comes to the gear and gadgets. I bought a fitbit (which has been really helpful to get a better understanding on how active I am and to track my workouts and sleep!), minibands, yogamat (the ones at the gym are to smelly/slippery), but there seems to always be something new that catches my eye in the fitness department, and I’m having a hard time saying no in case it can benefit my health – but I feel like it’s going against my minimalist lifestyle.

    Anyways, great post – I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Hi Katherine! My personal feeling is that minimalism is about being intentional with the things you own – so if you’re actively using your workout gear, gadgets, etc and they are adding value to your life, then I see now harm in owning them. As long as you’re being true to yourself and buying things that are genuinely adding value to your life, then I think it’s ok in my book!

      And PS: I LOVE how you changed your weight loss intentions 🙂

  7. So many people get focused on the accessories and they forget to Do The Thing. Thanks for reminding us that it’s not about the stuff or about anyone else. It’s your life, your health, and your body, and they’ll tell yo what they need.

  8. Woah, I love this post! I’ve never believed the myth that the only way to get/stay healthy is restrictions and strict rules. I don’t think you can really be healthy when you’re miserable. Thanks Jen! 🙂

  9. That was so encouraging, Jen (& Jen)! I’ve lost 30 lbs myself (10 in the last month) and I agree that maintaining the habits I adopted was key. Like Jen, counting calories and intense exercise wasn’t for me. But deciding to have a serving of veggies every meal and walking instead of driving worked better in the long run.

    • Daisy! Congrats on your weight loss! I definitely need to take some of Jen’s tips myself – I don’t need to lose weight but I do need to be healthier. For the past few months I’ve spent too much time in front of a computer, too much time snacking (sugar is my downfall at the moment) and I’m not feeling my best. Thanks for stopping by! x


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