Most of us probably need to go to the gym more (or at least we say we do). But gym memberships are expensive, and even if you have the money to pay for one, if you have kids or strange working hours, sometimes a gym membership just won’t work out. For instance, I only live two blocks from a gym I could get a great monthly discount on, but their hours don’t run very late so I can’t go when my husband comes home from work, and I can’t go during the day without finding childcare since the gym doesn’t provide any—and childcare means spending more money, etc, etc. Not very frugal at all. But there are a few different ways you can get in a variety of exercises even if you’re in a similar situation as me, without paying for anything!
Jogging/Walking Outside – Your comfort level about this might depend on the type of neighborhood you live in. But the cheapest way to get some decent exercise in is to throw on a pair of good walking shoes and make a few laps around the block. It’s free and not too strenuous, especially for people who are just starting out with exercise.
Climbing stairs – Do you have stairs in your house? Maybe you’re lucky enough to live in an apartment and can climb stairs for free! Climbing is great exercise and you can mix things up by taking two steps at a time, walking, jogging, etc. Be careful on the way down as you can hurt your knees much easier than going up—take an elevator down if you can, otherwise, don’t push yourself!
Jump rope – All right, you are paying for this, but a basic jump rope is only $5-$10—much cheaper than a gym membership and most other exercise equipment! Jumping uses muscles in your legs and arms and forces you to work on your rhythm and balance at the same time. It’s intense, but cheap and effective!
How else do you exercise without spending (much) money?
Years ago, when I was a member of a gym, I used to joke that the gym would finally be back to normal in March. We all know why. Those who had “resolved” to get fit got discouraged, didn’t see all the weight loss or fit-ness happen fast enough, or just gave up. Well, even if you are not a member of a gym, this is the time (if you did make a resolution) that your resolve, your motivation, your hope is tested. Don’t give up! Here are a few tips to help you maximize your weight loss in case you didn’t see the results you’d hoped for in the last two months.
1. Vary your workout. Be sure that whatever you consider your workouts include aerobic activity, strength training, and stretching. Cardio alone may not be sufficient for weight loss. Strength training builds muscle, and more muscle translates into better metabolism. So, be sure you’re working on building your strength at least twice a week. If you do the same workout every day, change it. Add weights. Increase weights. Add time. Add intensity. Do interval training. All those changes will change your workout, strengthen your muscles, and improve your ability to lose weight.
2. Watch those extra calories. Sometimes when we work out, we give ourselves the liberty to indulge more than we would when we are not working out. There’s not much room for indulging if you are trying to lose weight. If you want something special, then be sure to cut the equivalent number of calories elsewhere.
3. Exercise is not just what happens at the gym. Be careful not to let yourself get lazy the rest of the day. Let your workout time inspire you to keep moving. If you slow down from your normal pace, you may also cut the number of total calories you’d normally burn on any given day. So, take the stairs and park a little farther. The more you move, the more calories you’ll burn.
How do you maximize your workouts?
If you are a mom with little ones, then you know that it can be very difficult to carve out time alone to work out. Quite frankly, if I don’t wake up very early in the morning to work out, then it’s very likely I won’t work out at all. I don’t have family nearby to help watch them. I don’t want to (or have the extra funds to) pay for a babysitter. And I can’t justify paying for a gym membership so gym provided childcare isn’t an option either. So, sometimes, I have to get creative about my workouts. In case you can relate to my dilemma, here are a few tips to help you get your workout while also spending time with the children.
1. Go to the playground. It goes without saying that the children will be happy about that. Who says you can’t utilize the monkey bars, run around, and even do a few squats or jumping jacks while your children play. When my children were very little, I used to do squats between pushes on the swings. If they were both on the swings at the same time, I would jump side to side in between pushes.
2. Go for a walk. You can walk while they ride their scooter, tricycle, bicycle (if they ride fast enough, maybe you could go for a run). Or, you can all walk together. Children love to get out. Getting out for 15 or 20 minutes will be good for everyone.
3. Workout videos. I used to try to workout only before my children woke up in the morning or during their nap time. But, as every mom knows, the best laid plans surrounding children sleeping don’t always turn out. Although I still prefer to workout alone, I don’t hesitate to pop in a work out video before their nap or if it looks like nap time is not translating into actual sleep. You’ll all enjoy it and get a little workout in all at the same time.
How do you keep fit with little ones in the house?
Exercise shouldn’t cost as much as it does. There are a number of franchises dedicated to getting in shape. There are gym memberships, DVDs, and exercise machines and equipment. The secret these companies don’t want you to realize is that you don’t need any of these things to get in shape.
Contrary to what you may have been told you don’t need a yoga mat to practice yoga. You don’t need blocks and you don’t need the belt. You don’t even need yoga pants. What you do need is instruction and you can get that free at doyogawithme.com. If you feel the need to see your yoga space, use a blanket instead and if you want to be on a block use two equally thick books or a folded blanket. The more you progress however, the less you will need these items. The only reason you may need a mat at home is if you have slippery floors.
If you have kids one of the best ways to lose weight is to play with them. Many schools that have been underfunded for a physical education class know the value of basic exercises like jumping jacks, push ups, and sit ups. They also know the value of getting children to play games with each other. Go outside and play tag and red rover. Find bleachers to climb together. Not only will you keep in shape, your children will have a first hand example on being physically fit. It will also teach them that physical fitness is fun, not a chore.
The most basic exercises often are the best. Many people get a thrill from walking or running. Pick a time you enjoy and a place that is public and pretty. Have a partner to share the experience with, or compete with. The only items you may need for walking and running is a pair of sneakers and clothing that breathes.
Is getting in shape one of your goals for this year? If so, you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg and sign an annual contract in order to make it happen. There are many ways to get in shape and pay little or no money at all to do it.
One of my favorite ways to work out is to simply get out and walk or run. I have friends who take their children with them for a bike ride. If you have little ones at home, it takes planning. So, for me that means, either before my husband leaves for work or after he comes back. Neither of those are ideal times. But, it’s possible and I’ve done it. The short winter days have made it a bit more challenging. So, I usually get out on the weekends and do something else during the week (see below).
Turn On The TV
Since having children, I’ve learned to enjoy working out using a workout DVD. I used to think that a work out DVD would not be as challenging as the workouts I was accustomed to. However, I discovered some very challenging instructors. And, if you’re limited to your house, you can really make it work.
Incidentally, this is a good time of the year to buy work out DVDs. You’ll see lots of exercise DVDs and equipment being discounted this month.
Find A Routine
If you look online, you will find a wide range of workouts you can do at home on your own without a DVD or weights. Just you. It typically looks something like this:
15 Push Ups
15 Sit Ups
Plank (45 seconds)
(Repeat 3 times)
That’s just something I made up. Here’s another example. You can find the one that suits you best, or make up one!
It doesn’t have to cost or cost much to get in shape!
Is working out on your list of goals for 2014?
I have a resolution to be healthier and that means exercise. I don’t have money for a gym or equipment or a babysitter right now, but that isn’t a problem. I can still work out with these ideas.
Walking is a wonderful exercise that can be done with children or by myself. I could go for a walk outside to a park or I could walk in place or even jog in place in the living room.
Instead of lifting weights try lifting groceries instead. A can of soup is about one pound. A gallon of water is about eight pounds. Save money on the fancy equipment. I can just work out with my lunch before my lunch.
I have a music time at my home for my son and he likes to dance. I realized that I like to dance too. No one is watching so if I look like (as my brother tells me) a spazzing string bean it doesn’t matter. This isn’t just a good example for my kids for fitness. It teaches them to be comfortable with their body movement.
Use What I Already Have
There are things that sat in a closet for years. Gear from each time I planned on getting fit. I went through the stuff to see what I had. Some of it I forgot was even there. Some apartments also have a workout room that can be used as long as I have a key.
This one is sure to run out of supplies quickly, so hurry and sign up HERE to get your free pedometer and Purina dog leash.
I’m like everyone else, losing weight is on my New Year’s Resolution list. But I’m a Thrifty Diva, so if I’m going to seek outside help it is NOT going to be full-price or expensive.
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