Resolve to Reduce Your Waist, Not Your Wallet
by Shaunna Privratsky
Can't Afford the Gym?
12 Ways to Improve Fitness on a Tight Budget
A large portion of the population resolves to lose weight or get fit. That is why the exercise industry is booming. You can't flip through the channels on your TV without seeing half a dozen infomercials touting the latest "miracle diet" or the "perfect exercise machine" for only $99.99 plus shipping and handling.
Keep your wallet closed. You don't have to spend big bucks to gain a smaller waist. Let's start with exercise. You may desire a group setting to keep you motivated, yet the cost of joining a gym is out of your price range.
Instead, find a buddy or two and pick your routine. Maybe one of you has a stair stepper, another a rowing machine or a treadmill. Take turns hosting a home gym session, and you'll get all the fun of working out together without the expense. In time, you will even look forward to it!
Perhaps, you like exercising in the privacy of your own home. You've seen the commercials for the latest exercise gadgets, but you don't want to shrink your savings to get fit. Think second-hand or gently used for extreme bargains. You can check thrift stores, consignment and furniture stores that take trade-ins. I bought a non-motorized treadmill for only $20 at a furniture store and it has served me well for the last three years.
You can also browse the yellow pages of your phone book and see if your area has a discount sporting goods store. Fargo's Play it Again Sports store sells new or nearly new exercise machines at discounts up to 80% off. They buy, trade or consign your unwanted equipment. You can also sign up if they don't have what you're looking for, and they will call you when it arrives.
Another place to find bargain exercise machines is the classifieds. You can find equipment that has barely been used, at a price you can afford. The previous owner probably has several tips for you as well.
Friends and family can be an excellent source for free equipment. Maybe you are tired of your weights and want a stationary bike just like your brother's. Offer a trade. Or perhaps Aunt Mildred would be happy to get rid of the side sculptor gathering dust in her basement. A friend of ours gave us an ancient stationary bike that works surprisingly well. It even has a built in timer.
Keep your eyes open for discarded machines. People throw them out because they take up too much room, they don't use the machines enough, or they're just tired of it and don't want to try and sell it. A few years ago, I picked up a ski-machine someone had hauled to the Dumpster. It still had a garage sale tag on it for $15. My children enjoy playing on it when I'm not using it. (Exercise is fun for them. For us, it is hard work)
You can exercise for free as well. Walking, swimming, jogging, skipping rope, playing with your children, housework and yard work are all completely free forms of exercise. Add biking, hiking, skating and a dozen more sports and activities for a total fitness program to rival the most expensive gym.
Okay, now you have the equipment or exercise plan. How do you stay motivated? Routine and determination is the key. A habit is formed in thirty days. So if you stick to your plan for thirty days, you will be well on your way to fulfilling your resolution. Enlist the help of a family member, your spouse, friend or exercise buddy. You will have more desire to stick with it if someone is cheering you on and keeping tabs on your progress. You can do the same for them!
Keeping an exercise journal helps tremendously. Seeing your goals in writing is a major step in motivation. A daily log shows how far you've come and makes you want to continue.
Choose a reward (non-food) that will spur you on. Maybe it is a clothing size for which you are aiming. Perhaps, you just want a leaner, more fit figure. Whatever you decide, keep your goal in mind when you are "feeling the burn."
Just do it. The Nike commercial has it right. The more you exercise, the better you feel. The better you feel, the easier it is to exercise. So exercise your super saving skills and you'll be physically and financially fit.
Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.
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