Stay in shape for less

Low Cost Fitness in Retirement

by Paige Estigarribia


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You're retired. Your schedule is much different than in your previous working life. You may be able to pick up a new hobby or complete some projects you've been putting off. You also may have a little more time for exercise and staying in shape. But if you've retired on a fixed income, maybe you're wondering about some low-cost ways you can stay fit and physically active.

To help us answer that question we contacted Alexandra Williams from Fun and Fit: Active Aging for Boom Chicka Boomers. Alexandra has an MA, is certified by the American Council on Exercise and has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years. She currently teaches in the exercise studies department at UC Santa Barbara.

Q. Where do you look for bargains on exercise equipment?

Alexandra: Weights, tubes and bands are always less expensive and more portable than machines. For the lowest cost workout of all, try body weight exercises, such as push-ups, squats, and lunges. For people who wish to evaluate exercise equipment, an unbiased resource is ACEFitness.org. They do reviews on their site that are not sponsored by any manufacturer.

Q. What do you advise for people looking for free or low-cost exercise videos?

Alexandra: Knowing that YouTube has millions of free workout videos, it would be tempting to recommend doing a search. However, the only videos we recommend with 100% confidence are those put out by certified fitness professionals who have been certified by one of the third party accreditation organizations, such as ACE, NASM, ACSM, NSCS and so on. We ourselves are accredited by ACE (American Council on Exercise) and have a number of free videos at on YouTube.com. A great site for low-cost, effective, safe exercise videos is IdeaFit.com. We also like Yogaglo.com, FitKnitChick.com , and Aileen Sheron. One of our many related blog posts is "Three No-Cost Ways to Work Out Naturally."

Q. Are there circumstances where a gym membership might be advantageous?

Alexandra: We always think a gym membership is a good idea, though it is smart to comparison shop. Potential members will want to ask several questions, including these:

  1. Do you offer personal training? If so, what certifications do your trainers have? Which of your trainers specialize in my needs?
  2. Do you offer group fitness classes? What level of experience is necessary to participate?
  3. What kind of financial commitment do you require?

Sometimes a member is best served by a small, boutique fitness studio. Others will feel confident joining a large chain with multiple locations. Cost is important, yet it's not the main priority if the club isn't a good fit. Most fitness centers will offer three to seven free days, so the potential member can try out the club before joining. Smaller studios cannot afford to offer that many days, but may offer one free class. For a client who really wants one-on-one attention, the smaller place may be best. For the person who travels a lot and is self-sufficient, maybe a chain club is more appropriate. Of course, for people who are not near a gym, or who don't feel comfortable in one, a traveling personal trainer might be a great investment. The trainer comes to your home and tailors the workout specifically to you.

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Q. Is a personal trainer a luxury? Or should one be considered?

Alexandra: Ten years ago, personal trainers were considered a luxury. While it is still an investment, the return on that investment can be tremendous, as long as the trainer is qualified (has an accredited certification and knows how to address that client's needs). If the client is willing to purchase a number of sessions in a bundle, the price can drop significantly. The same is true if the client is willing to be part of a small group session. The level of knowledge and expertise in qualified trainers has increased so much over the past ten years that it's definitely a smart investment once you consider the value of good health.

Q. What is some basic gear you might need for a good home routine?

Alexandra: For those who want to work out at home, we suggest a mat, stability ball, tube or band, and hand weights. Heck, you can even use a five-pound bag of rice in each hand and skip the smaller weights. We believe that all strength begins in the core, so using the mat (or wall or countertop) for push-ups and 20-second planks, and a stability ball are the best places to start.

So if you've been trying to come up with some low-cost ways to stay fit in retirement, hopefully these tips can get you on the right track!

Reviewed March 2017


Paige Estigarribia is a writer for The Dollar Stretcher who enjoys writing about food, frugal living, and money-saving tips. Visit Paige on Google+.

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