Going to the gym can have many great benefits, but chances are you’d be just as successful with your fitness goals at home, and for a lot less money. Your gym has plenty of exercise equipment, and might even offer group classes, but is all that really necessary? Next time you go to the gym, take a look at the people working out with personal trainers. How much time do they spend using the fancy exercise equipment? Practically none. They spend the majority of their sessions using free weights, resistance bands, exercise balls, and step boxes. All things you can buy at your local sporting goods store, amazon.com, eBay, or Craigs List. And then there are the classes. Part of your membership fee goes toward providing these classes, so if you’re not taking advantage of them, you’re paying for services you’re not using. And if you are taking classes, ask yourself what about the class motivates you. Is it the particular instructor? The group setting? The fact that it’s a recurring, scheduled routine? With just a little extra motivation, you can get all these things at home for a small cost, or even for free.
Free Forms of Exercise
There are a number of exercises you can do at home for absolutely no money. For cardio you can go for a run or a bike ride, put on a CD and dance around your house, or run up and down your stairs. To build muscle, do push ups, sit ups, planks, and squats. If you don’t own any weights, pick up a heavy book, a sturdy table lamp, anything at all!
Bring the Instructor Home
There are a ton of exercise videos out there, so it’s just a matter of finding a few that you like. If you have a Netflix account, you can get exercise videos through them. P90X and Insanity are very popular right now, so chances are you know someone who owns the DVDs and would be happy to burn a copy for you (that’s how my fiance and I got P90X for free). You won’t like every workout video or every instructor, so try out several until you find a few you enjoy doing. Another thing to note is that many videos will suggest that you buy a few pieces of exercise equipment. You may want to go out and get a couple dumbbells, but you usually don’t need everything they suggest. For instance, P90X suggests you buy this silly little push up stand that lets you get about an inch lower on your push ups, but it’s completely unnecessary in my opinion.
Find a Group
We all know that working out by yourself can be difficult. When the workout gets too hard, you’re tempted to quit because nobody’s there to push you to keep going. Find someone else who is committed to an exercise routine so you can’t skip a workout just because you don’t feel like it. If you’ve agreed that you’re working out every day from 7-8pm, there’s no backing out. If you like to run or bike, a lot of sporting goods stores organize weekly runs/bikes, which is a great way to meet new people who share your passion for exercise and will push you to improve. If you live near a park, pay attention to see if there are groups playing sports there. If you see a group, approach them and ask if you could join their game on a regular basis.
Keep Yourself Accountable
There are a number of online communities where you can find support and encouragement from others with the same goals as you, as well as set goals and track your progress. I belong to myfitnesspal.com, which provides a number of tools for people trying to lose weight. I can set my daily calorie target and log calories eaten and calories burned through exercise. It has a vast database of foods, so you can just search for a food and it will fill in all the nutritional information. Similarly with exercise (but only for cardio as far as I can tell), you can enter what type of exercise you did, at what speed/intensity, and for how long, and it will estimate how many calories you burned. In addition to all that, there is a huge community where you can connect with others. On the message boards, you’ll find people asking and answering questions, sharing inspirational stories, organizing weekly check ins, and creating groups for people with similar goals. If you don’t have an exercise buddy or support network in the “real world,” an online community is a great option.