You're feeling flabby and out of shape, but your bank account is looking a little scrawny. Unfortunately, the average gym membership costs a whopping $800 a year, and personal trainers charge anywhere from $30 to $70 per session. Considering these fat fees, it appears you'll have to drop some serious coin if you want to drop those extra pounds. Or will you? Not necessarily. (Can you have perfect abs in just six minutes a day? Maybe not, but you can have a rock-solid budget in six months. Find out how in 6 Months to A Better Budget.)
Countless ways are readily available to whip your body into shape without shelling out a single red cent. Here are six simple tricks for getting fit without losing an ounce in the wallet area:
1) Tune In To Tone Up
Your next free workout may be just a click away. From Yoga and Pilates to Kickboxing and Belly Dancing, countless exercise programs are on TV these days. Just check your local listings for dates and times. Plus, if your cable plan includes a video-on-demand (VOD) service, you may have access to free exercise programs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Take a peek at your VOD menu - you may be surprised at the wide array of workouts you'll find!
Still can't find a winning workout program on TV? No problem. You can still break a sweat while you watch your favorite sitcom or night-time drama. Run in place, do jumping jacks and hit the deck for push-ups and sit-ups while you watch your show. It's a brilliant way to squeeze in a 30- to 60-minute workout without even realizing it.
2) Hit The Mall
Obviously, the mall is a great place to give your credit card a workout - but it's also the perfect venue for burning some serious calories. Droves of walkers around the nation are hitting their local malls to get in shape. Depending on your weight and speed, you can burn up to 100 calories for every mile you walk.
Of course, it's always nice to take a long walk around the neighborhood or through the park on a beautiful, sunny day. But what about those days when it's freezing cold, raining or snowing? What if the only time you can walk is after work when it's already dark outside? Many mall-walkers find that they're much more likely to stick to their walking routine because the weather never throws a wrench in their workout plans.
3) Play With A Kid
Kids seem to have boundless energy. When little ones are outside, they're constantly running, jumping, racing and climbing. Why not join in the fun? The next time you take your kids to the park, don't just sit back and watch. Get in on the action! Fly a kite, take a long hike or race from one end of the park to the other. Not only will you get an intense workout - you'll also enjoy some quality family time together. (Caring for children and parents is squeezing baby boomers' finances. Find out how to cope; read Healthy Survival Guide for Sandwiched Boomers.)
Don't have a kid? Ask a friend or relative if you can borrow theirs for the afternoon! Most parents are ready and willing to hand their kids over for a few hours so they can take a much-needed break. Take your niece or nephew ice skating, toss the football with your neighbor's kids or hit the beach with your best friend's brood. With a youngster in tow, the exercise opportunities are endless.
4) Visit Your Local Library
Okay, so you probably won't break a sweat by sticking your nose in a book at the local library. However, many libraries offer decent selections of fitness videos and DVDs these days. Check out a few at a time, and figure out which workout suits you the best. If your library doesn't carry fitness videos, ask a friend if you can borrow one of those exercise DVDs you see collecting dust on his/her bookcase.
5) Volunteer To Feel The Burn
While you may think activities like running, kickboxing and cycling are the only ways to get fit, plenty of less traditional activities can burn calories. For example, join a volunteer group that cleans parks, builds homes for the needy or plants trees. These are all highly physical activities that can help you drop some major poundage. Plus, volunteering is a great way to make new friends, and it makes you feel good on the inside and out. (The Peace Corps and AmeriCorps offer low pay, but they offer higher benefits down the road. Learn more by checking out Are The Volunteer Corps Right For You?)
6) Get Online To Get Fit
You can find just about anything online these days - including loads of free fitness communities and exercise programs. You know what they say: misery loves company. Why not find some fellow fitness friends online so you can chat about the woes of working out? Plus, you can share new exercise ideas, ask for fitness advice and keep track of your progress.
These are just a few free fitness ideas, but innumerable other ways are available to battle the bulge without spending a dime. Take the dog for a long walk, run up and down the stairs, clean the house top-to-bottom, mow the lawn, chase a squirrel, climb a tree - the list goes on and on. Fitness opportunities are available everywhere you turn. So, get out there and break a sweat - without breaking the bank!
Blood, sweat and tears belong in the gym, but your money deserves some training time, too. Check out Get Your Budget In Fighting Shape.