One of the things that has taken a hit since I’ve stopped my day-job to write full time is my pocketbook. In an effort to cut back, I culled my luxuries, including awesome lunches (now I scrounge for whatever is handy. Yesterday was an over-ripe avocado and some crystallizing strawberries on some rotting arugula. The day before that, I set a piece of bread on fire because I forgot that I had turned on the toaster. It’s a serious glamour palace at my house), but more to the point, I culled a gym membership. So where does a body get some cheap exercise?
Not only no gym membership, no yoga classes, no spin classes, no pure barre, or any of the other fitness crazes. None of it. I wouldn’t call my former self a gym rat by any stretch of the imagination, but there was a point in time where my hour at the gym was a zen experience. Also, for a period of time when we didn’t own a TV (true story), I would go to the gym on Saturday morning to watch the TBS movie reruns like “While You Were Sleeping,” or anything else Sandra Bullock related. I totally walked for hours on a treadmill when I felt properly motivated.
But even on no budget, and terrible weather, there are ways that I find to exercise and improve my overall health, even if my waistline doesn’t always play ball.
- I RUN. Sure, I had to put the outlay of a new pair of shoes (not cheap), but given the return on those, I consider it worthwhile. And before I bought those shoes, and my knee wasn’t cooperating, I walked 10,000 steps a day. You heard me. 10,000 steps. In the winter, I took a break in the middle of the day to go walking, and that helped build the strength I needed so that when I did finally get back to running (short distances), I was ready. It takes a while if you do it all at once, but a pretty decent calorie burner, and I can’t recommend it enough if you are behind on your podcasts (like I am).
Now that summer has hit, and the outside temperature has more in common with Bikram yoga, I get up early, down a glass of water and hit the pavement before I can think twice. Just don’t think about it, otherwise you’ll talk yourself out of it.
2. CLIMBING! For me, it is a backyard DIY climbing wall. Sure, it is unusual, but for those who can’t run due to maybe, say, a knee injury, climbing is an alternative to staying shape, and more fun than sharing dumbbells at the gym. Rock climbing helps build muscle not only in arms, but legs and most definitely core. For newbie climbers (like me), there are several great websites, including www.cruxcrush.com that can point a person in the right direction to resources in your own neighborhood, training regimens, and all around good fitness. Also, if you want to talk running vs. climbing, read this article and follow its links to draw your own conclusions.
That said, many towns have indoor rock climbing somewhere, and there are often cheap nights where a person can go at least once a week. We have the co-op, which has Ladies Nights for $5 (Wednesdays), and Dude’s Nights for $5 (Thursdays).
3. SLACKLINE. The quiet, pothead friend of rock climbing, setting up your own slackline is much easier than setting up a backyard rock gym. Slacklining is just walking a two inch wide piece of webbing that one could buy at a Home Depot. For starters, I must advise keeping it low to the ground. If you watch this incredible documentary about the birth of rock climbing in Yosemite National Park called “Valley Uprising,” there is a brief mention of slacklining being integral to the climbers’ camp.
Another task that works the core, the stabilization muscles of your leg (very helpful for the injured knee, I might add), and overall balance. The level of concentration that is required for beginners is pretty intense, so don’t try to hold a conversation with someone while they are attempting, otherwise, they just fall off.
I know this.
4. BICYCLES. A bit obvious, maybe? Sure, a road bike is expensive, and maybe those teeny-tiny tires make a person nervous, but any old bike will help you raise your heart rate. If you happen to be a runner, then a bicycle might help on the off days to work the other leg muscles and maintain a balance, so as not to strain the knee. (I am all about the knees).
5. PING PONG. Yeah, you heard me. Good old Table Tennis. It’s indoors, there’s AC, and most people play it with a beer in their hand. Granted, if you really want the workout, put down the beer. Just like actual tennis, the cross body action is pretty good for the core. As it happens, there’s a table tennis gym of sorts that just opened near us, Metwally Table Tennis Club. Do you have $10? Great. They’ll love to have you and your friend for as long as you can hold a paddle. Don’t have a friend? No problem. There’s a ROBOT to feed you serves, so you can practice your returns. And maybe if you go, it won’t be just the robot that’s nice to you.
6. YOUTUBE YOGA. It’s there. It might have annoying soundtracks, and terrible editing, but it is available to you on your already paid-for internet. Yes, this requires some patience to find a yogi that fits your ability, your interest, or your quality control. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to a yoga class, and I prefer supporting a local business. But if the money is too much, or the times don’t work, Youtube is a great resource to supplement a practice. Self-discipline, on the other hand, is not available on Youtube.
There are other tips found elsewhere on the web: workout programs with cans of beans instead of weights, squats while brushing teeth, but I don’t need to tell you that. I swear these are more fun.