Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Exercise isn't Free

But it doesn't have to be expensive either!

Nearly 1 year ago I committed to a 1 year membership with Fitness First in Singapore.  Running has always been great but I felt like I wanted more variety.  I pondered the expense of getting a gym membership and after MONTHS of internal debate I decided to go for it.

Although I enjoy the classes that the gym has to offer and Fitness First is certainly a great gym to be a member of, my weight has not changed ONE BIT since I got that membership.

Now, a small part of me feels OK with that.  After all, my BMI fits into the healthy range and I've successfully run two 1/2 marathons - what do I wanna lose weight for anyways??  But I suppose we all want to get rid of that little extra holiday weight, tone up our arms, firm our abs or whatever it is.

I'm telling you all right now - you do NOT need to pay for a gym membership to stay fit, get fit or lose weight.  You actually don't need many expensive gadgets at all.  Here's a few tips that I've found over the past few years that might be helpful, especially since summer is coming to a close and outdoor activities are starting to dwindle.

Let's face it - the one main expense you do need to fork out some cash for is a GREAT pair of running (or cross training) shoes.  And please, don't go to a place like the Nike store and pick out a pair based on their color.  If you're really serious about running specifically, it would be helpful for you to find a place to get a gait analysis.  This will tell you whether or not you pronate (collapse a bit due to flat-footedness) and is a great way to KNOW for sure that you are buying the right shoe.
Regardless of running or cross training, I think it's worth the extra money to go to a store that employs people who actually know a little something about shoes.  The Sporting Life in Toronto is usually pretty good but I imagine that a lot of independently owned shoe stores are the best.

Cheap cardio equipment isn't really worth the purchase.  I can always tell whether or not I'm using a good quality machine because they are usually quieter and sturdier.  Running, hiking or power walking outside is always the easiest and simplest way to get some free cardio into your day.  As winter approaches, that gets more difficult though.  If I were living in Canada and I wanted some good cheap cardio this is what I'd do: Pool together a group of women (and men) who also want a good workout and shop around for a personal trainer who would be willing to offer some circuit-training style classes.  As I'm a teacher, I'm sure the school gymnasium would be available for this type of purpose.  Although personal trainers charge around $100/hour - if you got a group of 10-15 women that cost would drop dramatically.  Usually the only other cost would be a stretching mat.  A lot of boot-camp classes can be found online as well and operate outdoors or also indoor facilities.  However, those attached to any type of "brand" will inevitably be more expensive.

So I'm sure some of you are thinking - great, but I don't wanna run around my block every single day - that's boring!  Here's a ton of other incredibly inexpensive ideas to help you stay fit on a budget:

Workout Videos: These have changed dramatically since the days of Jane Fonda.  You can buy them on Amazon (who ship for free on orders over $35) usually for around $10.  You can find videos for pretty much ANY exercise: yoga, pilates, abs, muscle toning, zumba, etc.  Here are some of my favorites:

Starring Jillian and past contestants of the show instead of anorexic models.

My most-used workout video - it does it all!!

She's annoying but good.
Yoga: MyYogaOnline is a fantastic site with professional videos that you can stream (or download for $4) and use 24/7.  The fee is about $10 a month or less depending on how long you subscribe.  You can also sign up to receive regular emails that introduce you to yoga, the moves, the philosophies, etc.  It's especially great for beginners.

Well, that's it for now.  As I keep thinking of more ideas I'll make a new post to update you all but in the meantime hopefully some of you are inspired to stay a little more active this winter - and by spring you'll be happy you did!

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