The current state of the economy — more specifically the Hansen economy — has forced me to take a long, hard look at my discretionary spending. I have decreased the number of times I skip cooking and get take out; for Nikki’s club soccer we have opted for tournament play rather than weekly travel; and I am doing my best to stay out of the golf section at Dick’s Sporting Goods.
As I re-evaluated what I could live with and live without, it came down to keeping either my golf or my fitness membership. What a dilemma! I have been a card-carrying gym member for more than 23 years and those of you who know me well know my passion for the game of golf. After much agonizing, I decided it was more practical to come up with my own fitness activities than it was to build a golf course.
Fitness clubs are the idea place to workout. They provide equipment, expertise and an opportunity to meet like-minded people. But what if you find yourself financially strung out or living in a community without a gym? Believe it or not, doing your own thing can provide some of the same opportunities. There are tons of fitness programs both free and for a nominal fee available in communities or via the internet. The key is to be creative and find out what works for you.
Let’s look at some low cost alternatives to gym membership:
— Walking or running: Both of these activities are available almost 12 months a year in our climate. All you need is a good pair of shoes and you are good to go. If the weather is bad or you just feel safer indoors, Biggs Park Mall has mall walking daily.
— Home exercise videos: These are available for every type of exercise from strength training, to Yoga, Zumba dancing and much more. DVD sets average about $50 and provide you hours of workouts before you get tired of them. In addition, if you have Time Warner Cable, there are tons of fitness programs available on demand and are free.
— Cycling: While there is the capital outlay for a bike, depending on the type of riding you want to do, it can be minimal. Bikes range anywhere from less than $100 to more than $1,000 for an initial purchase. Keep in mind that with proper maintenance, a bike can last for years. There are also riding clubs in the community so you can learn and train with others.
— Home fitness equipment: There are tons of pieces of high-quality, low-cost fitness equipment available. Dumbbells, exercise bands, medicine balls, mats, etc. can be found at most discount or sporting goods stores. They most often include a DVD or book with suggested exercise programs. Again, the cost will be a one-time expense as the equipment will last for years.
— Water exercise: During the summer months, pools and the ocean provide plenty of exercise opportunities. Whether you are a swimmer or into water aerobics, you can buddy up with a friend or neighbor with a pool and you are all set.
Despite giving up my membership, I am still getting my workouts in. I am running, using my P90X DVD’s and walking the golf course when I get the chance. My long-time workout partner, Lisa, and I meet on Sundays and walk. Although I miss being part of the gym family, I am making it work while saving some cash along the way. Who knows, with all the money I save, I might get to treat myself to some new golf clothes once in a while.
Kathy Hansen has more than 23 years of experience in the health and fitness field and is still suffering some gym withdrawal. She can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.