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Exercise: Do You Really Have To Spend Much Money To Stay In Shape?

June 9, 2010 · 49 comments

in Health & Fitness

A new chain of fitness centers called Lifetime Fitness opened in our area about 11 years ago.  At that time, I had just had my third child, so I could not wait to sign up.  This was not an ordinary fitness center mind you.  There was 2 pools, a giant gym with a rock-climbing wall, countless exercise machines, and numerous areas for fitness classes.  I was going to drop that baby weight in record time!

So, I joined when they opened and I kept my membership at Lifetime for 10 years, adding different family members to the plan as they got old enough.  However, I discontinued our membership a year ago as the rate was approaching $150.00 per month and the family just wasn’t using it very often.  The kids were very busy with their school sports, and I seemed to keep picking up viruses when I did work out.  (Yes, I did wipe everything down.  Could have just been coincidence.)

Now, with summer approaching, my 16 year old proclaimed he wanted to go back to Lifetime.  I called to see what the rate would be.  (Thought maybe it dropped given the economy and all.)  I was told there would be a $99 ‘administration fee’  just for signing up and the monthly cost would be $149 for the family, or $60 for just my son.  I then told my son the cost and he very maturely said ‘well, I don’t expect you to pay that’.

So, my son and I then talked about all his options for getting in shape for soccer season besides going to a fitness center.  My number one suggestion to him was doing the P90x program that we already owned.  (For those who aren’t aware of P90x, it is a program designed by Tony Horton, and it can kick your backside like no other program I have ever experienced.  It is a set of 8 or 10 dvds that are done in a particular order, focusing on different parts of the body each day.)  He then went down to the basement and did day 1 of the 90 day program.   Time will tell if he sticks with it or not.  Regardless, he can also run on the treadmill or outside.

While he was downstairs, I started thinking about how inexpensive exercise can really be.  Whereas a lot of people rely on heading to a health club, there are plenty of alternatives for those that cannot afford a health club or don’t like the inconvenience of leaving the house.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Use your own body as resistance.  Many basic exercises can be done anywhere, such as push-ups, tricep dips (coffee table is great for those), or you can strengthen your legs by standing with your back against the wall and slide down to where your legs are bent at a 90 degree angle at the knee.   Do some of these resistance training exercises whenever you can.  Strength training is a very important part of any fitness program as it helps boost your metabolism and burn those calories.
  2. Jump rope.   It is a fantastic aerobic exercise, and you can take your jump rope with you anywhere.  No excuses when traveling!    If you weigh 150 pounds and jump rope for 10 minutes, you burn 114 calories.  By the way, if you would like to see how many calories you can burn doing various access exercises, click here.
  3. Ride your bike to run your errands.  This is where I really struggle because our city was not designed for bike riding.  I am terrified of taking my bike outside my neighborhood because drivers never pay attention making right turns on red and such.  Being run over isn’t worth the exercise in my situation.  But, for those that have good biking paths, take advantage!!
  4. Go for a run or walk.  Plus, you can get some Vitamin D in the process!
  5. Join the kids in their outdoor games.  It may not be the most aerobic way to exercise, but it is a lot better than sitting on the couch.   I think I was thinner when the kids were younger because I was out running around with them all the time.  I spend more time ‘exercising’ now, but I was in better shape when I was just in perpetual motion.

So just remember, exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, or expensive.  If you just make ‘movement’ a part of your life, the exercise may just take care of itself.  Or, if you do need to dedicate time to exercise, it can also be done in small increments just using your own weight and items around the house.    Just don’t let things like money or time stop you from being healthy.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff June 9, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Great points! I already knew I should be exercising…I’ve just gotten lazy. Well, and I found blogging which is a sedentary sport, lol. Great post!


Kris June 9, 2010 at 9:51 pm

BFS – I find that I think of a lot of my blog posts while exercising. You can blog in your head while going for a nice walk. Just take a notepad with you!


Money Reasons June 9, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Nice list! I ended up buy weights for my basement and worked out in private at my convenience. It was a great solution and I was doing great until I got sick. I stopped working out about 3 years ago.

I do know that when I was in shape, I had more energy and a bounce in my step than I don’t have now. I felt better all around!

In addition to weights, I also walked/jogged around the block. It was a nice pleasant experience!

Geez, I really have to get back into the swing of things…


Kris June 9, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Hey MR – Maybe you, me and BFS need to be virtual exercise partners!


Budgeting in the Fun Stuff June 10, 2010 at 9:56 am

I’m in!


Rebecca The Greeniac June 9, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Ha! Well, my first thought is… isn’t it just totally absurd that we’ve created a society in which everything is automated to the point that we virtually never have to leave our couches, so now we have to pay for something as elemental as getting exercise. Somehow, I don’t think that getting a workout was much of a concern for our great great grandparents!

Seriously though, I’ve found that I have very little need for exercise now that I’m walking/biking to run most of my errands, growing much of my own food in my garden, doing my laundry by hand etc.

But on the more practical side of things… They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but in my experience it’s really the road to the thrift store. You can usually find a plethora of exercise equipment there or at rummage and yard sales for pennies on the dollar. People even give it away on Craigslist or FreeCycle if you’ll come haul it away. I have an exercise bike, rowing machine, nordic track, stair stepper and resistance gym cluttering up my basement, and I think I acquired all of them combined for under $100 total. I hardly have need for them anymore though, so maybe mine will soon join the herd of homeless exercise equipment looking for new homes!


Kris June 9, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Hi Greeniac! I never thought about going to a thrift store for weights and things. Definitely something to consider.

I have a wonderful treadmill, exercise bike, and more. But, like you, I enjoy when I get my exercise from ‘life’.

Get rid of some of that clutter in the basement, it will declutter your mind too. However, it might make more sense to wait for the winter months to see if you will actually use them again.

Thanks for stopping by!


Kevin@InvestItWisely June 10, 2010 at 4:24 pm

I’ve heard of P90X, though I’m doing something else called StrongLifts. My gym membership ended up coming to between $15 and $20 a month since I signed up for a year and got 6 months extra for free. The gym is small, but the free weights and few machines are more than enough for me. I am not a body builder!

True enough what you say about free weight exercises, too; a regimen of pushups and pullups from a tree branch, plus squats already goes a long way.


Kris June 10, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Kevin – That is a fantastic price for a gym membership!

P90X is a fantastic program that does give great results. However, I couldn’t finish because I have some back problems, and I was in a lot of pain after some of the workouts. However I still use the DVDs just to mix things up a little. I love the Ken-po DVD. Its fun and I don’t get eternally bored.

Thanks for visiting!


Divine and Debt Free June 10, 2010 at 10:17 pm

I have weights, a bender ball, and a biggest loser dvd. The dvd for 10 bucks was enough for me lol. You don’t have to spend lots to get in shape, you just have to want to do it and put your mind to it.

great tips!


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