Turn on any TV screen and you’ll soon see commercials for 24 Hour Fitness memberships, the P90X Workout, Shaun T’s Insanity Program, and the Total Gym featuring celebrity trainers and high profile actors with perfect physiques. With the fitness industry generating $21 billion in 2011 (and growing) the perception towards fitness is that it costs money to get fit.
For most people, making physical activity and exercise a lifestyle choice is already hard to do. The added expense for a gym membership, workout DVDs or a personal trainer makes the weekly commitment to getting fit even more of a challenge. This poses some interesting questions:
- Does it have to cost a lot of money to get fit?
- How can I get fit without paying for a gym membership?
- How can I get fit without buying expensive gym equipment for my home/apartment?
Although it requires some creativity and ingenuity, the answer is … YES!
Getting Fit on a Budget
One thing that I think we forget is that human beings were physically fit and healthy even before fitness clubs, workout DVDs or fitness equipment was even invented. As a whole, our society pushed, pulled and lifted heavy objects on a regular basis, did more manual labor using our hands and backs and spent more time on our feet moving all day versus in chairs or behind the wheel of a car. Let’s get “creative” and outline ways to address the following on a budget:
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Muscular strength and development
Cardiovascular Fitness on a Budget
When people think about cardio visions of treadmills, spin bikes and elliptical trainers come to mind. Cardiovascular benefits come from continuous exercise where the heart rate is elevated. It can be as simple as a brisk walk in your neighborhood for a minimum of 15 minutes at a time (with the goal of 150 minutes per week).
Go for a Walk After Eating. Most of us have grown up eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. By setting aside 5 to 10 minutes to walk (casually) after each major meal of the day you can accumulate 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week. Be sure to walk at a casual pace (continuous walk that is not overly strenuous). If you are looking to work at a more vigorous pace (60% HRMax or greater) be sure to wait a minimum of one hour after your major meal to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.
Join a Meet Up Group. In every community you can find groups of people who are getting active. You can find a MeetUp group in your local area if your visit www.meetup.com. You can connect with other people who are interested in running, cycling, swimming, hiking and more! There are a wide variety of groups to choose from (men’s, women’s, family recreational, intermediate, competitive, etc.). Most events are free and they are a great way to meet new people, find a workout group or partner and stay motivated.
Pick Up a Jump Rope. Jumping rope (or skipping) improves cardiovascular fitness, speed, reaction time, total body coordination, balance and total body fitness. Jumping rope for 15 to 20 minutes burns upwards of 200 calories in one session (the equivalent of a candy bar).
- Jump rope (the proper length, when standing at the middle with both feet, should bring the handles to the height of both armpits).
- 4 foot x 6 foot area.
- 12″ of clearance above your head.
- Exercise surface that will absorb impact and be friendly to your joints (ie. wood floor or dense exercise flooring).
- 10 to 20 minutes of dedicated time.
- 50 repetitions, two feet together
- 100 repetitions, two feet together
- 150 repetitions, two feet together
- 200 repetitions, two feet together
- As many repetitions as you can (without stopping), two feet together
- 100 repetitions, alternating feet
- 200 repetitions, alternative feet
- As many repetitions as you can (without stopping), alternating feet
Access Fitness Videos Online. The internet offers powerful options if you know what websites to search for and review. Below are a list of websites that offer free cardio and exercise videos to provide options on those days where you don’t feel like going outside or need something new and exciting to try.
- ACE Fitness (YouTube Channel)
- www.streamfit.com (21 day trial membership; $9.99 to $19.00/month membership)
Next Steps in Muscular Fitness on a Budget
In “Workout Advice – Working Out on a Budget (Part Two)” find out how you can increase muscular strength and development on a shoestring budget.