Category Archives: money

Sweating on the Cheap

So after Wednesday’s post on getting past your excuses for not working out, my friend Kira asked yet another great question:  “Okay here’s another excuse … money. Say you get bored to death running (or get too many weird pains), but you can’t afford a gym membership or sports equipment. I personally would love to go to a climbing gym regularly but I can’t afford it. I would also love to hire a personal trainer, but clearly, same issue. Any thoughts on this one?”

Hang onto your money, girlfriend.

For some reason, even though I’m a semi-broke twenty something myself, this excuse didn’t even occur to me.  Maybe it’s because I work at gyms or the fact that I got an amazing deal on my own gym membership (I now pay $9 per month for the rest of my life!) or the fact that I just can’t imagine a life without exercise.  Whatever the reason, I’m always fretting about money, so it’s crazy that I didn’t think of this one!  But once it was brought to my attention, I couldn’t stop thinking of new ways to sweat for very little money!  Here’s a somewhat abbreviated list for those of you who, like me, don’t have dollar bills falling out of your pockets:   

1) Use what you have.  Now let’s start with the basics. While Kira mentioned that she didn’t love running, some of you might.  I’m guessing you already have a pair of shoes, and that’s all you need (besides yourself), so give it a try! Add in intervals by sprinting on the choruses of your workouts songs if you’re listening to music, or, if you’re not, decide on a certain number of blocks you’ll go all out for.  And there’s no shame in doing a walk-run combo if that’s what gets you moving.  If you’re still not a fan of pounding the pavement, try biking!  I’m guessing that about half of you have an old mountain bike from Target in the garage or stuck in storage somewhere.  And if you don’t have it, I bet your parents still do, so if you live close enough for you or them to drive, throw it in the trunk on the next visit and you’ll be good to go (at least until it starts snowing here in the Midwest)! 

As far as strength training goes, use your own body weight!  Pushups, squats, and situps are awesome moves that require nothing but your own fabulous self.  Once you master these, add weight with household items (as silly as it sounds, fill up old milk jugs with sand, even!) or try standing on one leg to make them harder.  If you really can’t afford a gym membership, you already have everything you need to cover all of the basics.  Trust me.   

2) Buy used.  If you don’t have a bike or other exercise gear, and buying new is out of the question, try craigslist.  Honestly, you can find anything on there, and some people are selling some pretty nice exercise equipment in the Beauty + Health section.  A client of mine bought a never-been-used wetsuit for a Tri, and I’ve even seen someone selling their gym membership for cheaper, so be on the lookout for those bikes as well as things you wouldn’t expect!  If you have a Play It Again Sports or other used sporting goods store in your area, check it out as well!  Sure, some things might gross you out to buy used, but a soccer ball or basketball or set of dumbbells is still the same, even if it did have a previous owner.   

3) Learn to share.  The things we learned in kindergarten are still valuable today.  Sharing or splitting the cost of things is a HUGE money saver.  Really want to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions?  Find a friend or two who does too, and halve your cost!  Honestly, most personal trainers (especially newer ones at big gyms who need clients desperately!), are willing to work two people out for the cost of one (sometimes a little more, but your cost is still lower than hiring one on your own), because it’s not much extra work and they’re still making the same amount of money for an hour of work.  Recruit a third friend and your individual cost will go down by a lot even if the overall price goes up a tiny bit.  (Note: with this situation, don’t expect the same individual attention you might get if it were just one or two of you, though.  When training three or four, it gets hard to focus entirely on every single person in the group.)  There are even tons of places that offer cheaper group training (like Motiv in the Chicago area) or pre-set workout plans available to their members (check out TEAMiFIT, also in Chicago). 

However, if a gym membership and split personal training sessions are still a stretch, check out some do-it-yourself programs that you can split with friends.  You buy the P90X or other workout program between four friends and have up to 3 months of workouts for next to nothing!  Do it at a different pal’s house every week to be fair, and make copies of any written instructions.  You’ll all reap the benefits!  You could also host a workout video swap, and have your friends bring all of their used CoreFusion, step aerobics, and yoga DVDS that they aren’t using anymore.  Everyone will be able to find something that they haven’t tried before, and no one loses any money!  You can always get your DVD back after letting the other person try it.   

4) Look for deals!  Call your local gyms and see if they’re running any specials and if they offer any additional discounts for students or family members or people in a certain profession.  If you really want to try a gym, this is key!  I know that when I worked at Bally, they were always offering month-to-month memberships for 20 to 30 bucks!  They might not be the fanciest gyms, but they have all of the basics and even some classes!  Basic gym is better than no gym, my friends.  Call up gyms in your area to see if they do anything similar. 

Additionally, I have found a ton of really cool stuff online by signing up for email updates from Groupon, Tippr, and Living Social Deals.  They’ve got them for all of the major cities and surrounding areas, so I bet you’ll be able to find something!  I recently bought a month of hardcore bootcamp classes for only $20 from Tippr, and I’m eyeing today’s deal on Groupon for two months of unlimited Bikram for only $39.  And for just new and cheap ideas, check out Vital Juice.  I get an email update for all sorts of fun activities, and they even do an email blast on free healthy things to do in your city! Seriously, this one is just about being resourceful!

5) Take advantage.  Are you sure there aren’t services available to you, for free, that you just haven’t been paying attention to?  Does your office hold a before-work bootcamp or fitness class to all employees?  If not, would they do something similar to lower their insurance premiums? (Ask them!  And if you’re in the Chicago area, tell them you know of someone who can lead the class!)  Is there a running group that meets nearby a few times per week?  Most groups have a website or ad on craigslist, so get to Googling!  You could even start your own by tweeting or Facebooking that you want to start a group for swimming or climbing or cross-training… whatever!  I bet you’ll get a ton of feedback from people just like you! 

Do you have a library card?  Head over to the nearest library and check out a workout video or fitness book (FYI, books usually have longer check-out periods so make sure you turn those DVDs in on time to avoid fees!) Does your local high school have a rec center or pool that’s open to the public for a small fee per visit?  Try it!  It’s like a gym, but on a pay-very-little-per-visit basis.  Does a local workout facility or yoga studio host free weekly classes that you can join in on?  I know that even my local Lululemon store has free Sunday classes right in the store!  Even if these free classes are being used to plug a business’ services or clothes, so what?  It doesn’t mean you have to buy anything!  Go and take advantage!

I’m sure there are a million other ways to sweat on the cheap (or for free!), but this is what I’ve got for now! Have you tried any of these tips?  Would you be willing to?  Got any other inspired tips for me?  Like, I said, sharing is an awesome way to get fit for free –and that includes sharing information, so if you have any more ideas, spill!

Owning It: A Few More Confessions

So I’ve posted a couple times already about how I’m not a foodie, and on multiple occasions I’ve let you in on the not-so-secret secret that I still have body image/food issues. Then a few weeks ago, I posted myconfessions as a personal trainer.  And I’m going to post a few more here today. But unlike the confessions of my Catholic school days, I’m not going to ask for forgiveness or justify myself.  And I am most certainly not going to do penance for them.

These are a few of the things I’ve realized I need to own up to — things about myself that I need to lay out there because they are who I am and what I do, and, well, sorry I’m not sorry about them.  So what inspired this sudden show of bravado, you ask?  What made me decide to own up to all things Heather without feeling the need to explain myself?  Well my good real-life friend (we go wayyyy back, which is what I’m going to say when she becomes a ridic famous author) and blog buddy, Rachel, started the ‘Own It’ challenge, encouraging other bloggers to come out and state what they’re about, no apologies necessary.  Hmm, I thought, this is the perfect opportunity to talk about the things that I am constantly apologizing for that I really shouldn’t be.

In the past few years, I’ve noticed that my happiness factor has gone up exponentially since I stopped asking for permission so much.  And I actually remember having a conversation about this with Rachel on one of our many Starbucks dates back home in Michigan.  Last year, I told people that I was quitting my salaried desk job to become a trainer.  This year, Rachel told people she was up and moving to Texas.  We didn’t ask if these actions were OK, and we didn’t give a laundry list of reasons for why we were doing them.  And because people in general are so used to everyone (especially young women) asking if what they’re doing is right, this confused them.  You mean you don’t care what I think? Nope, or at least not enough to change my mind.  I’m forging on either way.  Anyway, inspired by that conversation and by her post on it, here are some more confessions that don’t bother my conscience one bit.  My opening declaration:

Since I’m a trainer, let’s start with something fitness related.  I hate running in the summer.  HATE. I do not like it at all.  Running in 90 degrees with 80% humidity just so I can tell people I’m a real runner?  No thanks.  I’ve been one, and maybe someday I’ll be one again, but not right now.  I like to breathe and not feel like I’m wading through the soup that is a Midwest summer.  If I run at all during the months of June, July, and August, it is at the gym or at night, and I do it because I know how many calories it burns, or sometimes because I need a change.  But you know what I would rather do for hours at a time in the summer? Bike or swim or dance or anything besides run.

Here’s another one: I am not a morning person.  Props to all of you that are, but I get pissed off when people make it seem like you are a lazy, slothful person if your internal alarm clock doesn’t have you springing out of bed at 6am.  Stop acting so damn self-righteous about it.  I get just as much accomplished as you do, but I just do it later in the day.  Give me a project to work on at 8pm and I’m way more inspired than I would be at 8am.  I like my workouts later in the day too.  I’m programmed this way, and I’m owning it.

For as much as I talk about loving the skin you’re in, I’m with Rachel on the fact that I would still like to lose weight, even if I do think I’m beautiful right now.  And as much as I talk about how unhealthy I was when I was at my skinniest (not having a period is usually a bad sign, folks), I sometimes still look at pictures and remember how much control I had and how good it felt to slide that XS or S on without a snag.  I will own that I feel that way, and I will also own that I still have some work to do, mentally and physically.

I also own that when fat talk starts with my girlfriends, I shut down.  I do not respond, or I get quite curt, all of my response being two words or less — if that.  I mostly do it because nothing about that conversation is healthy for any party involved.  We don’t need to perpetuate the cycle of caring more about our jeans size than our actual mental wellbeing.  But another part of it is that for the first time in my life, I’m not one of the skinny friends.  And that sounds catty, I know, but I know I didn’t fish for compliments even when I was the skinny friend.  It also hurts my feelings when my size-4 friends comment on how they need to ‘get rid of this flab’ because they are just ‘soooo disgusting.’ Gee thanks.  By the way, thanks for being a bitch and not thinking about anyone else’s feelings before you opened your mouth.

I also jump up on my feminist and body image champion soap boxes pretty quickly, much to the chagrin of any males in my life.  Sorry I’m not sorry.

I did a total 180 as far as careers go and quit my secure corporate job to become a trainer (with an unstable hourly wage) and a freelancer, and I put myself in a lot of debt doing so.  I also freaked my parents out and made them wonder why they paid for a bachelors degree in English and Women’s Studies (take a guess at how many times I heard, ‘So what are you going to do with that degree?’) from a good school for their eldest daughter.  I switched jobs again about a year into my gym job because it was so sales focused, and I refused to force people to buy training when they could hardly make their rent.  Sometimes I worried that I had made the wrong decision going into training.  But now I don’t regret it because I found a better fit that reminded me why I love what I do, and I love the freedom I have working at two smaller studios who really want the best for the clients.  I stumbled along the way, and I still don’t know what I’ll ultimately end up doing, but at 25, I don’t need to yet.

Even though I’m a trainer, I do not live at the gym.  And I won’t tell my clients that they have to either.  I won’t tell them they aren’t allowed to drink, because I do it, too (give me whiskey or beer, and I’m ready to go!).  I refuse to be a complete hypocrite with my clients, and I’m usually honest with them about how much I’m working out at any given time.  Also, lately, some of my workouts have taken a backseat to seeing friends or a boy.  But I’m good with this, because for a long time, it was the other way around.  I still work out, but I don’t let it take it over my life. I like this, and I own this.

So now it’s your turn — what are you owning, what have you owned, and what are you going to start owning that maybe you were afraid to before?

My First Guest Post and March Goals

Hey guys! So although I’ve been a slacka over here, I have been doing SOME writing! Check out Chandra’s Shenanigans for a guest post from yours truly (first one!) on how I made the transition from working at a desk to spending my days in the gym. I know I kind of already wrote about it here, but it was fitting to write about it over there because she did the same thing! Granted, she was a little smarter about it, transitioning slowly, and not just saying ‘Eff you, corporate desk job’ and quitting completely, but still. Read the rest of this entry
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