Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Getting in Shape on a Lean Budget

The weather’s warming up and we’re finally able to strip off all of those bulky layers. The only downside is the nasty shock, when we see what’s lurking underneath. For countless reasons, many of us tend to put a greater focus on exercise, as the mercury rises. Of course, getting fit can be quite an expensive endeavor – but it doesn’t have to be. Just give it a bit of thought and consideration, before you pull out the plastic. It’ll help you trim the fat in more ways than one.

Look Sharp
·         Tripping over baggy clothes and standing out like a sore thumb is not motivating. You’re more likely to keep at it, if you invest in suitable attire i.e. good runners, a sturdy exercise bra and appropriate work-out clothes.
·         Pick up active wear at big box stores, not designer boutiques. You want to look and feel the part, but spend the absolute minimum.
·         Purchase sparingly at the outset. Buy a few basics to get you started. Rotate outfits and launder frequently.
·         Reward your commitment with incremental wardrobe purchases, as your exercise program develops i.e. at the 3 month and 6 month mark.  

Gear Up
·         Share equipment amongst reliable friends, family and/or colleagues. It’s a great way to try new activities without spending a dime.  
·         If your tendency is to start strong and tail off, pursue activities with low equipment demands i.e. running or yoga.
·         Invest only in the basics, at the outset. Add all the bells and whistles, as things develop. Start small and expand after the time, and dedication.
·         Rent or purchase second-hand exercise equipment during the honeymoon stage. Buy the good stuff only after you’ve demonstrated a long-term commitment.
·         Don’t expect a large financial investment to serve as motivation.
·         Utilize wellness programs with your company’s insurance carrier - they often contribute to equipment costs and/or pay towards gym memberships, annually.

Join In
·         Club memberships can be expensive and often aren’t utilized to their full extent. However if it works for you, shop around for a gym that’s super-convenient, reasonably-priced – and avoid hard-to-cancel contracts.
·         Consider cheaper options like community centers, municipal gymnasiums, local pools and school facilities. They tend to offer seasonal classes or one-offs, as opposed to demanding costly, long-term agreements.
·         The Village People aren’t the only ones to sing the praises of the YMCA. It’s open to all denominations and offers state of the art equipment, at cut-rate prices.
·         Exercise DVDs and video streaming are excellent alternatives to structured classes. They require minimal investment and these home-based sessions fit easily into your regular routine.

Stay Flexible
·         It’s good to schedule regular exercise, but fitness doesn’t have to be regimented to count. Keep it fun and exciting by incorporating social activities like hiking, bicycling and golf.
·         Participate in team sports offered through school or work, or organize a game of baseball or street hockey with friends and neighbours.
·         Sign up for your favourite charity run, bowl-a-thon or volleyball tournament. You’ll support a good cause and get fit even faster.
·         Don’t shy away from physical activity in general. Take the stairs. Walk to the dry-cleaners. Do some housework. Don’t let yourself off easy because you already worked out today.

My last piece of advice is to avoid a radically changing your exercise program, on a regular basis. Variety is good, but perseverance is better. Stick with your plan long enough to enjoy the benefits, and both your body and pocketbook will thank you.

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