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Skimp Your Way Thin

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You hardly need to spend anything to get fit. If this is your excuse, you can’t use it anymore. Motivation is probably the biggest stumbling block of all. But money should not matter.

I am the queen of working out on a budget. I am also the type of person (Gemini?) who gets very bored very easily with workouts. I need something different all the time that doesn’t cost me anything. It sounds impossible to please me, but it is not. For eight solid years, I had and loyally used my gym membership, but due to recent money constraints and logistics, I had to quit. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to work out at home, but it has actually worked out quite nicely and I have been able to maintain my faithful habit. The only hurdles I have at home are a 1-1/2-year-old who enjoys sitting on me during ALL floor exercises and a pup who sometimes compromises my form by getting underfoot. Oh, and the dishes and other distracting messes, but I’ve learned to hold off until after my workout.

Here is my list of budget-friendly workout helpers:

1. I have rummaged, thrifted and craigslist-ed my way to a stocked workout video collection. I don’t think I’ve paid more than $1.00 for a used workout video. You can never predict what you’re going to find, so you have to practice being open-minded when going the second-hand route.

2. I also got a sweet treadmill for just $100 at a rummage sale. We have gotten WAY more than our money’s worth.

3. A $2 thrift store stair stepper is great for step aerobics and also works as a makeshift weight bench for chest presses, leg lifts and all sorts of other exercises.

4. I have a $1 jump rope that gives one of the best workouts ever. I compiled a list of jumps to try on my sparkpeople blog.

5. I got some inexpensive weights at the store. A 5lb and 8lb set will do for a lot of women. I found my husband found some 15 pounders on craigslist for $15.

6. I have magazine subscriptions to Self and Shape Magazines, which cost something like $12 each for a full year. I have hundreds of workouts pulled from these magazines, and filed away by workout type, that I can always turn to. At best, you can log on to these or other health-related magazines’ websites to learn something or print workouts. Self has some really good workout videos you can follow along with as well. As a side note, Self Magazine was one of the first major health motivators for me way back in 2000. The upbeat, anyone-can-do-it attitude really got me revved to start a fitness program.

7. If you’ve heard it from me before, you’ll hear it from me again. Sparkpeople is one of the best free health sites I have ever come across. Here you can log workouts, log what you eat, and look up health articles on almost any topic. There are health calculators, health calendars, community forums and so many things I can’t even list.

8. Free workout videos in a variety of different practices and time limits are provided by exercise TV. Also Yoga Today provides a free hour-long Yoga workout every day and offers over 200 downloadable videos for cheap.

9. The library is a rich resource for workout videos, health books, healthy cookbooks and more for free. Or check out their CD selection for fresh workout music.

10. Check out your local video store as well. We have a local one where educational videos, which includes workout videos, are free to rent.

11. For parents, playgrounds offer a really nice workout opportunity that allows you to play like a kid again. Do a Google search for playground workouts to find something like this.

12. A good pair of running shoes provides plenty of workout hours, whether you prefer free local trails, the sidewalk, the treadmill, or the track.

13. For around $300 each, my husband and I each bought a kayak. We have definitely gotten our money’s worth out of these too. We barely have to plan when we want to go out for a row and we can drop them in the water almost anywhere that’s open to the public. For the cost and the experience in nature, it sure beats slaving away in the gym!

14. I also recommend a set of stretch tubing and a fitness ball. For around $10-$15 each, you get more workout options than you can imagine for your money. If you’re lucky like me, you might happen upon these at a rummage sale or inside a workout DVD itself for even less!

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