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James Walker of Resolver.co.uk: How to save money and get in shape

James Walker, from Resolver. Picture: Supplied

James Walker, from Resolver. Picture: Supplied

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James Walker of Resolver.co.uk offers his top tips for getting in shape before the New Year rush - and saving a few pounds as you drop a few pounds.

Is it worth spending your money on the gym? James Walker of Resolver has some tips to save a few pounds. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.Is it worth spending your money on the gym? James Walker of Resolver has some tips to save a few pounds. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

Are you looking to get in to shape? Wanna pump some iron? Fancy a quinoa and oat milk smoothie?

Well, not right now, I suspect – the run-up to Christmas is usually too busy and messy to get healthy.

But soon, gyms across the land will be filling up with unhealthy people like me on a mission to change their lives.

Others will drop the dairy and carbs and eat salads sadly while dreaming of burgers and ice cream.

If you’re planning on getting healthy then bear in mind that often it’s your bank account which gets lighter before you do.

Here are a few tips:

• Be honest, be informed

Gyms make their biggest profits from the people who pay a monthly fee but rarely turn up (most of us, basically).

Think of it as a ‘lazy tax’. Not so long ago, gyms had an awful reputation for restrictive contracts but things have improved a bit.

Some offer pay-as-you-go or by-the-month fees. Others still have contracts where you have to give a few months’ notice if you want to leave.

Don’t sign up until you’ve found out what the cost is to get out of the agreement. And be realistic about how often you’re going to go.

• Now’s the time to sample your local leisure centre

Cold weather, Christmas and busy workloads often result in emptier facilities.

Have a look online to see if there are any offers or one-day passes on offer that will allow you to get a feel for what’s available and if it works for you.

Gyms, swimming baths, leisure centres – they can all be intimidating to people who don’t go regularly.

So this is your opportunity to figure out how the lockers work, what the machines do (and how to use them) and what the regulars are like.

• Healthy eating doesn’t have to involve excessive prices

Find cheap and simple recipe ideas off the internet and don’t get carried away with weird and wacky ingredients.

Generic, non-brand goods are often made by the same companies that provide the expensive ones, so aim for the cheaper option.

Eat seasonal food and shop at your local market – you’ll get better deals. And frozen veg is a much cheaper alternative if cash is tight.

• Check the science bits

Vitamins don’t magically make you healthy. Detoxes don’t really work and there’s no science behind many of the miracle pills and supplements in your local health food shop.

Be cynical, speak to your doctor and check to see what research has been done before handing over your hard-earned cash.

• Watch free deals

Limited-time trials for slimming pills, magazine and health subscription services, apps with ‘paid for content’.

All of these online or magazine offers can be subscription traps – where you sign up for a free offer then end up paying hundreds of pounds for poor products or services.

Remember, if something is really free, why do they need your card number?

• Home gym it!

You’ll save a packet by getting in to the habit of doing a few exercise plans at home.

You can get things like skipping ropes, hula hoops, workout videos and more from resale websites or from friends and family for very little.

There are free apps which help you get motivated (sofa to 5K is one example) or give you tips on technique.

You can also find more detailed exercise plans online for zero pence too.

If your gym isn’t playing fair, a retailer has ripped you off or you think you’ve been misled don’t give up. Resolver can help you sort out complaints about pretty much anything for free. See www.resolver.co.uk and share your experiences at yourstories@resolvergroup.com.

• James Walker is the founder of consumer complaints website Resolver.co.uk

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