Quick question for all of the faithful CGN readers out there: when on earth did gym memberships get so expensive? Maybe I’ve been out of the loop for a while (okay, yes…I’ve been woefully out of the “getting fit” loop for way too long,) but after running a quick check of memberships in my area, I found nothing under $40 a month, and that’s including local rec centers. The YMCA in my neighborhood is $60/month…where was I when these decisions were made? How is a girl to get in shape without breaking the bank?
Many of us believe that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get into shape and exercise properly if we can’t afford to belong to a gym. This is probably because any of us that have seen TV recently can attest to the fact that we are bombarded with advertisements promising us the best shape of our life if only we buy: gym memberships, diet pills, workout videos/regimens, health-related books…the list never ends. It’s not difficult to start thinking that physical health and getting in shape are two categories that belong to those who have the extra money to fork over for training sessions from Jillian Michaels herself. What they’re not telling us, though, is that fitness is within our reach no matter how much money we bring in every month. Here are a few tips to make sure that the pounds you are losing aren’t a result of the money you’re forking over from your pockets:
- Walk out your front door. I know that not everyone has the great pleasure of being able to get their exercise outside year-round (those of us that enjoy that pleasure should thank our lucky stars daily,) but no matter where you live, there are seasons where the great outdoors beats the sweaty inside of a gym every single day. Take a good long walk in your local park, sign up for a 5k, or get out on your bicycle or roller-blades for a ride around your town. Fitness doesn’t need to be confined in four walls, plus the Vitamin D you’ll get has crazy health benefits. Can’t afford a bike or proper running shoes? Start walking a few blocks every day to stimulate blood flow and metabolism–every step is better than no steps at all.
- Better yet, stay inside! In this age of technology, none of us has a real excuse. Pick up a cheap workout video from the nearest major store or check one out at your library! Since most of us have been strong-armed into a smartphone, you should know that there are a TON of opportunities at your fingertips. Apps like AbsTrainer and FitnessFree give you video and pictorial workouts to follow at home.
- Take advantage of trial offers. Nearly every gym, yoga, spin, activity studio out there has a trial offer used to entice potential customers. Some will offer major discounts for a week or two, some offer unlimited free sessions for the same period of time. Check these out and take advantage of them while you’re on a strict budget. It requires hopping around quite a bit, but it also gives you the opportunity to try out multiple places and figure out if and where you’d like to invest in somewhere specific.
- Hidden savings? Just how closely have you looked at your company’s or your personal insurance plan? These days, many plans give discounts for those that are making a serious attempt to stay healthy and can prove it. Some employers also offer reimbursement opportunities for health and wellness investments, be it in classes or memberships. Make sure to check this out!
- Use technology as your tracker/motivator. A few GREAT (and very free) apps are available out there to serve as nutrition guides, calorie and fitness trackers, and fitness communities. Good diet trackers include MyFitnessPal and SparkPeople, while you can get pedometers from Runtastic. ShopWell offers the opportunity to scan foods at the grocery store and then tells you whether or not it fits into your personalized diet well, while Striiv, Fitocracy, and Tribesports offer dual-service fitness communities and challenges that allow you to earn points and awards and compete against others.
- Never underestimate the power of accountability. A friend of mine just started a Facebook group, of which I am a part, that is comprised of people in her network looking to get healthy. We’ve just begun our own personal Biggest Loser competition, where we will track our progress in a communally-shared Google spreadsheet. In my own community (and others as well!), there is a state-funded effort to get people up and moving called Weigh and Win, where you can actually win money for weight loss (makin’ extra cash!) or sign up with teams to compete with other teams for the most lost in a period of time. If you’re the competitive type or even the type that hates not following through on what you’ve told people you will do, then maybe this is the route for you.
Don’t buy into the trap that only those with good disposable income can become healthier. Videos like this one continue to inspire me every day in the way of getting myself in better shape, no extra cash required. What is required is drive, determination, goals, and good planning. Get up and get active and remember that, no matter how far you get, you’re still lapping everyone on the couch.