My fiance and I are working on becoming debt free. I know that sacrifices are to be made however I enjoy going to the gym. I am not a health fanatic however I think it is important to keep reasonably fit. I was wondering if anyone has any tips or ideas for me on how to stay fit at a low cost.
Here a few suggestions that worked for me as a cash-strapped college student.
We bought a used Life Cycle stationary bike out of the newspaper 4 1/2 years ago. We paid $450 for it and it's been one of the best investments we ever made. We've spent less than $10 a month on our fitness regime over these 54 months, and you don't have to leave home. My husband tapes movies and watches them in the morning while he rides. I bought some hand weights to work on my arms while I ride. Used exercise equipment is advertised in the paper all the time. It's an idea!
I do the following:
I, too, struggle with the "I need to exercise but I need to save money" dilemma. Ask me sometime about my grocery and food habits with this, too. I want to eat healthy but it costs so much.
I made an initial investment of $400 to purchase a new treadmill. If I had to do it again, I would have shopped used ones, but at the time, I did not do that. The $400, I figured, is what I would have spent on a gym membership for two years. I've seen used machines for less than $75 motorized (our neighbor sold one last year for $25) and manual powered ones for $25 or less. I, personally, prefer the motorized one. I need all the help I can get. LOL
However, running or walking on a treadmill can get pretty dull rather quickly. So, I incorporate music into my routine. I plug in my CD walkman (a gift, not a purchase on my part) and put in my Rick Springfield CDs (most of which were gifts - some of which were bought online at Heritage Music Website for CHEAP) and I can work out on the machine for 35 - 40 minutes while listening to one of my favorite singers.
It peps up my workout, and at times, the beat of the music or "getting to the end of the song" keeps me going when I would otherwise stop. I currently am on for around 3 miles - sometimes more, depending on my schedule. I continually try to better my time and go more miles in a shorter workout. Once I'm running the entire time, I figure I can continue to work out for 30 minutes and go a farther distance.
I also use dumbbells, purchased on sale for under $10 for 2 - 2lbs and 2 - 5lbs weights, to do arm strengthening and toning exercises. You could look for a weight set with a bench at rummages this summer or used through newspapers, community bulletin boards, etc. I've seen the whole set, including a bench, for under $20 in our community. Make sure the set you buy has dumbbell bars and you can create your own custom weighted dumbbells. I do biceps curls, butterflies, arm extensions and others to help chase away those flapping underarms.
I also have a vast selection on exercise aerobics videos purchased via rummages. Most I paid no more than $1 for (some as low as 25 and 50 cents). These are great for those times I have friends over to exercise (it would get a little crowded with two or three extras on the treadmill - just kidding). We push back the coffee table and crank up Jane Fonda, The Firm series, or Kathie Lee and go to town. It's a fun way to get together while doing something healthy.
These are all one times purchases. The only thing I have to buy is a replacement 9 volt battery for the LED display on my treadmill, and a can of silicone spray to lubricate the tread after 10 or so hours of used. Both were purchased at Target for under $2 total.
With four children, the only way I can get the uninterrupted time is to get up earlier. I need to be awake for at least 45 minutes or so before I step on the machine. I use this time while adjusting to "being awake," to write, do Bible Study, throw some wash on, fold clothes, iron, read, or anything other little thing to help set up my day. Then, when I'm limbered and the morning aches and pains have gone away, I strap on my shoes and hit the treads.
I have found it is an easy way to spend the time I might spend doing something else (like eating) and work up a great sweat. It puts me in such a great frame of mind most mornings and I feel charged for the day! Remember to drink plenty of water while you are exercising, whether it's running, walking, or other aerobic activity!
If you want to go to a gym, see if you can find one that charges by the month, not one with an initiation fee plus monthly fees. Look for weight rooms in your apartment complex, your local recreation center, the YMCA, or your office building. For a good walking program, look to your closest mall. I belong to a walking program sponsored by the mall and the local medical center. They keep track of our mileage and have quarterly breakfasts (with a speaker) to give awards, as well as monthly blood pressure screening. This costs nothing, and gives me a safe, warm, well-lit place to walk and incentive to keep it up.
There are many ways to stay fit without being a member of a gym. There are great ways to work in the three components of fitness: Cardiovascular, Muscular, and Flexibility.
Creative ways to get cardio exercise include going dancing with your husband, riding your bike around the neighborhood, or running up and down the stairs of the local high school or park. Most high schools also let people on their running tracks when no one is training. I'm sure your town/city has a walking club or hiking club that you could join. If not, start one! There's no motivation like knowing that others are counting on you. You can also check out your used entertainment goods store for inexpensive workout videos - or better yet, check your local library or friends and borrow them.
As far as weight bearing exercise, tons of web site (ivillage.com, phys.com, onhealth.com) have suggestions for weight bearing exercise that involves using your own bodyweight or a simple rubber band (under $5) or some basic weights which you can get for very little at a Play it Again Sports or secondhand recreation store.
The flexibility component is the easiest to acquire without a gym. The above web sites also have stretching routines that can be done from the comfort of your living room. Or, once again, your local used entertainment goods store or library has a plethora of tapes for stretching, yoga, and pilates that you can find.
The most important thing, however, is to make sure that the routine works for you. I have a friend who absolutely cannot workout unless she is at her gym. She feels obligated to go and "sign in" - otherwise she wouldn't workout at all which has a greater "cost" financially, health-wise and emotionally in the long run.
If you have to be at a gym and working out there motivates you then find ways to get discounted rates. Some gyms will discount if you pay in cash, pay in advance, or allow your account to be automatically debited (although some gyms will also "scam" you this way so be wary.) Others will exchange a "discounted" membership if you agree to work in their childcare room or at the front desk. If you have certain skills like web page design or brochure design, I find that these are easily tradable for some free personal training sessions or a free month of membership.
Keeping yourself healthy is one of the most important financial investments you can make. Good look in finding something that works for you!
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