Your workout doesn't need to depend on an expensive gym

Frugal Fitness

by Joanne Guidoccio

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Each month, the $45 debit to my account bothered me. While it wasn't a large amount of money, it reminded me of my tendency to act impulsively. I had been impressed by the facilities at the health club and believed I would finally lose the weight and get into shape. That was the fantasy. The reality was very different.

While I attended regularly for the first two weeks, I started making excuses shortly afterward. It was raining cats and dogs. It was too cold. It was out of my way. I was tired. Soon, my only memory of that health club was the monthly debit to my account.

After the health club fiasco, I decided to search for low-cost and no-cost activities that I could incorporate into my lifestyle. I finally got it. The key to a successful workout is to work with what you have and realize there are many ways of achieving physical fitness. I did not have to join a health club or buy expensive equipment to stay healthy. Consider the following suggestions on frugal fitness:

  • Walk or jog. It's free and the fresh air is better than the air in a health club. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and a commitment to a regular routine. If you don't like to walk or jog alone, ask a friend to join you. Alternatively, you could get or borrow a dog.

  • Perform household chores like vacuuming, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, and raking the leaves at a brisk pace. These activities count as workouts if you increase your heart rate.

  • Improvise. Use soup cans as free weights to do bicep curls, shoulder raises, and other arm exercise. A sturdy chair is handy for tricep dips and a sofa serves as a great foot anchor for crunches. Stretch your calf muscles by running up and down the stairs in your home or a nearby building. Alternatively, you could use a low, sturdy step stool for step training. A skipping rope provides a great cardiovascular workout.

  • Invest in your own exercise equipment instead of buying an expensive membership to the local gym. Visit sporting good stores that specialize in used equipment. Check for bargains at garage sales or in the classified ads. You may also find good deals on used exercise equipment online. Before buying, check the shipping costs.

  • Borrow yoga, workout, and aerobic DVDs or videotapes from the library. When you find one that you like, consider buying it. To avoid getting bored with the same routine, you should trade exercise DVDs or books with friends.

  • Check out the latest video games at a friend's house. Using the appropriate software and game system, you can participate in a wide range of activities such as yoga, tennis and dancing. If you find a game you enjoy, put it on your Christmas or birthday gift list.

Carefully research all fitness products before buying. Do not buy any herbal supplements or products that promise to melt away the pounds and inches in a short period of time.

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