So next up on our ‘entertainment on a dime’ series I will touch on gym memberships. Not exactly in the genre of true ‘fun’ entertainment like going to the movies or taking your kids to a go kart track, but certainly a place where a lot of us dedicate a descent amount of our time and money at.
During Covid quarantine when gyms were closed I feel a lot of us used that as an excuse for why we packed on the dreaded ‘covid-weight’ or ‘covid-15’. My husband and I avoided this weight gain by getting creative with our exercise routines and methods. In doing so, we ultimately discovered that we did not, in fact, need a stinking gym membership to stay in good shape! I will list our discoveries below in order of least expensive to most expensive.
In the ‘free’ category we have ‘body weight resisted’ exercises. They are, as the name implies, exercises in which you use your body weight as your resistance. I like these exercises because they are very functional and mimic things that we have to do everyday like getting out of a chair (squats) or getting up from the floor (crunches). Because no fancy weight machines, aerobic machines, barbells, dumbbells, or even resistance bands are required you can do these exercises for free anywhere there is adequate space to do them. They include, but are not limited to: squats, lunges, crunches, sit ups, push ups, pull ups, oblique sit ups, oblique crunches, bear walks, crab walks, yoga poses, Pilates mat work, tricep dips, planks, Superman’s, Turkish get ups, Russian twists, side planks.
Not much of an exercise guru? Worried you might not get your form right or simply have no idea what any of these exercises are? You can find some pretty decent tutorials on form if you search you tube. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=body+weight+workout
You can also get your cardio in for free too- running (as bonus resistance I run while dragging one or both kids in the wagon behind me- no fancy weight vest needed), cardio kickboxing, fast walking, jump rope, marching in place, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, plank jacks, skater hops, burpees, soccer ball taps, suicides (running drills) or even just plain old running (carefully) up and down your stair case. You can also use a step or a stoop for an old school step aerobics class. And for those of us whose joints are aching just reading this- don’t forget the ‘Chair Aerobics’ lady. Back in the day she was on channel 66 and did a full on cardio workout without ever getting out of her chair! I found her DVD series for sale on Amazon (It’s called Sit and Be Fit). https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004VM2FKG/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_CQB9S6GNTH5DEB86A2V8
https://youtu.be/azv8eJgoGLk (here’s something similar I found on You Tube for free).
Don’t forget about playing games and even dancing too. Remember when you were a kid and you burned off all those gummy bears by playing basketball or soccer with the neighbor kids? Did you notice how quickly you can raise your heart rate when you rock out to Michael Jackson in your kitchen while making dinner when (thank God) no one is watching)? Take a survey of the people on your block- maybe some of them want to get together for a weekly game. I’m sure at least one person has a half deflated basketball in their garage that can be used and a lot of communities offer up free public access courts. Or you can get your favorite music for free on Pandora and have spontaneous ‘making dinner’ dance parties like I do with my daughter.
You can find totally free workouts on Youtube as well. I have found anything from body weight workouts to cardio workouts, Pilates, Yoga, HIT training, boot camp, Zumba, guided meditation, tia chi, Chi gong, stretching. There’s some great workouts for kids too! I like Jack Hartmann because he combines learning with exercise. My daughter is addicted to Cosmic kids Yoga. We have also worked out together with Spiderman, Captain America, Buddy the Elf, Elsa, the Avengers, Batman, and the Paw Patrol. I also found ballet dance lessons for her during quarantine with Daniella Ballerina when her park district class got cancelled. https://youtu.be/1dkPouLWCyc (Jack Hartmann) https://youtu.be/xlg052EKMtk (cosmic kids yoga) https://youtu.be/dg84wx6PPPI (kids dinosaur workout) https://youtu.be/8dLNbAcMqzc (batman workout) https://youtu.be/SF6OJY9kMTE (Daniella Ballerina)
Next up- minimal cost exercises. These are going to require some equipment, but nothing that’s going to break the bank. These include home work out DVD’s. I like working out with Jillian Michaels. Her DVD’s are affordable (no more than ten dollars each) and widely available (I have seen them at Target, Walmart, Amazon, and you can even rent them free at the library). You will typically have to invest in some dumbells, a kettle bell, resistance bands, and a mat. Don’t forget that good old swiss ball too- you know, that big red ball that’s in your closet deflated. Yeah, you can get a pretty good workout with that if you pull it out and blow it up. None of these items are particularly pricey and can be found every where from Walmart to Dick’s sporting goods to Amazon. I have found them for sale used at gargage sales and resale shops and stores that specialize in recycling fitness equipment like Play It Again Sports (these stores will cost more than the resale shop, but you will find what you are looking for much more easily and it will be in decent shape and pre- disinfected so there’s definitely a trade off here).
As far as cardio in this category- look no further than a garage sale or a resale shop. These are meccas for cast off ‘New Year’s resolutions’. You will find every fad for workout equipment here from bow flex machines to the ill fated ‘Gazelle’ and ‘Ab lounger’ (careful, lots of people lost fingers in the hinges). I’m not saying to run out and pick up a used Total gym (sorry Chuck Norris) so that it can take a turn sitting in your basement un-used, but we did find an old spin bike in decent condition for only twenty dollars at a garage sale that we are getting pretty consistent use out of. I also used the Letgo app (now Offerup) to score bikes for the family as well as a baby seat and a tag along so our kids could enjoy riding on the big path without getting run over by the diehard cycling set. I have to say, it’s been a great way to enjoy fresh air and family time while getting in our sweat sessions.
The final category here is pretty extreme and will not fit everyone’s home space and budget. You can always buy your own squat rack or free weights, a Peloton bike or rower machine. You can invest in your own backyard pool or hot tub or one of those ‘mini lap swimming pools’ where you swim really hard against a current but don’t get anywhere (think the hamster wheel of swimming pools). We have resorted to some of these items since quarantine and small kids makes going to the gym unrealistic for us. Let’s just say we can’t park the cars in our garage anymore, but we no longer have an excuse to not work out during the winter. My crazy husband also built a climbing wall in there for the kids so they have something to do while he’s doing good morning lifts with obscene amounts of weight and doesn’t want to accidentally squish them.
So, now that I have taken away just about any excuse you can come up with for not exercising get busy getting in shape and staying healthy! Explore these options and come up with more! Experiment and hand taylor your workouts to what makes you feel healthy and what fits your exercise goals. Modify these ideas for your age, arthritis, injuries, or fitness levels. And don’t forget to have fun!