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A Misers Guide to Fitness

A Miser’s Guide to Fitness

The economy tanked in 2008, and discretionary spending is down for most Americans. This means the New Year’s resolution of joining a health club becomes secondary to the mortgage. If the gym membership is out of reach in 2009, all is not lost. Fitness can be achieved in your home, park, or at your workplace for little or no cost. Keep in mind that any exercise is better than no exercise and any movement is better that no movement at all.


The shoes are already in the closest, and walking is one of the best activities to build endurance, lose weight, and improve health. The National Weight Control Registry shows that successful weight control is frequently reported from individuals who walk on a regular basis. Walking can be done in a park, mall, or neighborhood. Instead of reading the newspaper or chatting with other parents during your children’s soccer practice, walk or jog around the field for an hour. If your child is practicing in a school gym, walk the bleachers. This is as good as a “stair-climber,” and it will certainly increase your stamina.

Circuit Training

Many community parks have fitness trails providing the opportunity to incorporate resistance training along with the cardiovascular workout offered by walking, jogging, or running. If a fitness trail is not available, you can pause at a park bench or picnic table and perform sitting triceps dips or any of the many variations of pushups.

Take the Stairs

Don’t underestimate the power of short periods of exercise over the course of a day. It is important to get an elevated and sustained heart rate. A stair climb and a brisk fifteen minute walk during coffee breaks or lunch can improve fitness. Also, consider where you park for work and shopping. If safety and weather permits, consider parking your car some distance from your workplace or mall entrance. The extra steps provide additional exercise.

Health Club Alternatives

I have never been a big fan of health clubs. The stair-climbers and treadmills are usually full, and those on the equipment always go past their allotted time. Also, the hassle of getting to the gym is not always pleasant, and two months into the membership a person stops going while the membership fees continue. However, some people need a gym for motivation or for different fitness goals. If this is the case, a local YMCA is a less costly choice than many of the health clubs. The equipment may not be as sleek as the glamorous health clubs, but the YMCA usually has barbells and dumbbells. The results are the same at a lesser cost. A YMCA may also have a pool. Swimming laps is a great total body workout.

If you’re not easily intimidated, many towns have a “hardcore” gym for the serious bodybuilder. Less expensive than the ritzy health clubs and there may only be “free weights” and very few machines, but the workout results can be spectacular. I offer a word of caution. These gyms are not good places for social visits. Go in, work, and be gone. The closest thing to a personal trainer will be the guy opening and closing the gym, but their workout advice is usually good and always free.

Personal Trainers

If a health club is beyond your budget, you may want to forget the personal trainer. While the personal trainer gives good advice and spirited motivation, they can be expensive. A miser like me watches those televised yoga classes or other workout programs. There is plenty of good advice and instruction. If the broadcast times conflict with your schedule, record them and exercise later. Following Denise Austin’s workout for thirty minutes each day will put a kick in your step.

It is easy to get a good workout and improve your personal fitness without spending a great amount of money. Take advantage of little things and get moving.