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January brings along with it all kinds of renewed energy and fitness motivation and that is fantastic! I will cheer you on as you set those weight and fitness goals. Good for you! Unfortunately, most of you have probably realized by now some of the downfalls of gym memberships. Most of them are expensive, or at least they will be when your New Year promotion ends. They require a time commitment that a lot of us just aren’t willing to make. They’re also crowded and not the most comfortable environment for exercising. Health is so important and if you have an affordable gym routine that’s working really well for you, stick with it! I would never discourage you from healthy habits. I believe Wealth and Health are undoubtedly related. If, however, you are trying to pay off debt or if you have been looking for a less expensive option, let’s talk about how to get fit fo’ free.
Gyms are Expensive
I’m a Physician Assistant and I encourage a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise all day long, but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of gyms are overpriced. There are some cheap ones, but they are usually so crowded you can hardly use them. The gym membership is not required for exercise and that classifies it as an unnecessary expense. If it’s something that you use and work into your budget, that’s fine. For a lot of people, that’s not the case. Fret not, there are plenty of things you can do without having to go to a gym. We’ll get to those in a minute.
In all honesty, how many pieces of gym equipment do you really use? Most of us gravitate to one or two favorites. I use the treadmill and the elliptical 80% of the time. The Stairmaster is my own personal form of torture. My membership money would be completely wasted on that sucker. Likewise for the stationary bikes and all the heavy weights banging around in the Room with Grunting Men. For the price we pay in membership fees, wouldn’t it be more practical and affordable to look for used exercise equipment to have at home? With appropriate care, these kinds of machines will last for years. You’ll quickly make back the money you saved in gym memberships. A year and a half ago I bought a very nice, used elliptical machine from a Facebook yard sale group for $300. It had been very well maintained, hardly ever used, and was a durable brand. I use it a few times a week almost every week. It would have paid for itself twice by now and it’s still in perfect condition. This was a worthwhile purchase for me.
Gyms take Time
I’m a homebody if there ever was one, so a gym environment is not my thing. I know this because I have free access to my husband’s gym at work and I hardly ever use it. I used to use it daily when we lived two blocks away, had matching schedules, and were without children. That’s not true for us anymore. Now, I squeeze workouts in during the baby’s naps, while dinner is in the oven, or between loads of laundry. Exercise is important, but the extra half hour round trip to get to the gym and back is not a sacrifice I’m willing to make. That doesn’t even count the time I might have to waste waiting for available equipment. I’m sure some people don’t mind it, but I also know there are a lot of other moms out there like me. That’s just not practical for us. I love the flexibility of working out from home. It doesn’t take me very long to run upstairs, change clothes, and pull up my favorite online workout. It’s a much more doable routine for me and it’s something I can stick with long-term.
Gyms are Uncomfortable
Gyms are crowded, smelly, and kind of gross. With the exception of a few very confident ladies, most of us feel slightly self-conscious about squatting, jogging, and jumping in Spandex in front of fifty strangers. Usually, I can put my head down and do my thing on the aerobics machines, but you definitely won’t find me heavy lifting with the guys. That’s terribly uncomfortable for me. At home or in my husband’s very uncrowded work gym, I’ll mix it up more because I feel more at ease. Beginner exercisers are often even more uncomfortable with the gym environment. Everyone else seems to know what they’re doing and how to use everything and you’re just kind of standing there trying to pretend like you know while secretly looking around to figure it out. That’s not a lot of fun and you’re less likely to really workout as hard as you can when you’re just trying not to look like a newbie. Working out at home eliminates that whole negative component to exercise so that you can give it all you have and get better results in a comfortable place.
My Favorite Free Workouts
Go for a run. This is sometimes hard to do with little ones unless you have a jogging stroller, but it’s good for everyone to get outside, even if it’s just a short run.
Meet a friend to walk a few miles around the neighborhood and catch up. I do this about once a month when the weather is pretty. A friend and I load up our babies (and water bottles and sunscreen and sippy cups/bottles/snacks and pacifiers and sunglasses) and go for a long walk. You can see why we don’t try to do this more often…
Dust off your home exercise equipment and use it! If you already have an old treadmill or bike at home, start using it. It’s not doing you much good as a drying rack for your laundry (although we’ve all been there for seasons of our lives).
If you’re a glutton for punishment, Crossfit.com has a long list of workouts that require minimum equipment, very little time, and a whole lot of sweat. This is my husband’s game. I go through seasons where I dabble. Then I try to get out of the bed the next morning and crumple to the ground on legs of spaghetti, so I go back to my elliptical where I can turn on the little fan, sip water, and read while I exercise.
There are a multitude of full-length exercise programs available online. Here are a few I’ve used:
Fitness Blender– MANY workouts, beginner to advanced, with and without equipment
PopSugar Fitness– a large collection of fun workouts
Christine Salus Workouts– another wide variety of workouts including a series of “silent” workouts meant to be apartment-friendly (or sleeping baby-friendly!)
Mommy and Me Workout– low impact workout for Moms to do holding their babies
Bikini Body Mommy’s Workout of the Day– sign up and get her daily workouts. This woman is inspirational!
800-1000+ Calorie Workouts– These are serious workouts. If you think you can’t work up a good sweat at home, give these a try.
Most of the at-home exercise equipment you will need can be found at yard sales or on Amazon (yard sale weights = okay after cleaning; yard sale yoga mat = icky). Try the videos out first using household items for weights and see what you’ll need before purchasing. Here are a few suggestions:
Regardless of what kind of exercise you decide to do or where you do it, find something you enjoy and you’ll be able to stick with it. Get fit, my friend!
Have I missed any great free workouts online? Please share them below!
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