Low-cost alternatives to the gym
By Tom, Pure Matters
It's no surprise that news outlets across the country are reporting increased gym membership sales at the start of the New Year. I'm all for using the fresh start of 2013 to set goals and resolutions, but what I always tell friends and family members is to tread carefully. Not because I don't believe in them and their commitment, but because the "Resolution Goggles" that most potential customers view gym tours and training package deals through can be misleading and leave you a little less hesitant when it comes time to sign on the dotted line.
"Sure," you say to yourself, "I'll definitely get my money's worth if I come in four times a week, use the showers, and take advantage of the 10 percent off anything from the juice bar!" Next thing you know you're locked into a three year contract with the gym that wants your first born and a pound of gold to get out of the full term. I've been there and I've seen it a million times. Gym regulars call it the "Herd Thinning" because as time ticks by, so does the line waiting to use the bench press and treadmill.
So this year, I've asked the Pure Matters contributors what some of the best options are for people looking to get fit without breaking the bank or signing their lives away.
Here's what they had to say:
Tom: I'm amazed at the push for fitness in the digital space–the Richard Simmons tapes of yesteryear have been replaced with interactive, motion-tracking devices like the Xbox Kinect, Wii, and even something as pocketable as a smartphone. Most cable providers offer free yoga or fitness classes "On Demand," iTunes and Netflix have catalogues of fitness videos, YouTube is flush with home specific tutorials, and an emerging market of gadgets, gizmos, and apps are making fitness widely available to everyone, incredibly well tracked and organized, and most importantly, FUN. Clear a space in front of your computer or television and buckle down for some hardcore bodyweight exercises. What gym membership?
Nathan: To me it doesn't get much lower-cost than running. We all love our tech gear, but the real entry point is a decent pair of shoes…and the ability to open your front door and step outside. You can amp up your workout easily as well by doing sprints, step-ups and lunges at park fields and practically any public access set of stairs. It's also the most travel-friendly. Just pack your shoes and you're good to go. One note of warning if you're tempted by the whole "barefoot running craze"–Sure, it makes running even cheaper, but please ease into it, as it's very easy to overdo it, and hospital visits ain't cheap!
Errica: Have a friends' work out video session where we gather at one house and do a video (P90X, Insanity), that way not everyone has to buy the video. Plus friends keep each other motivated. I also have dance parties with Wii Just Dance, which can really work out a sweat. When it's nice out, I like to go running with friends, in parks and other trails. Sometimes I will take my TRX Suspension Trainer and attach it to a tree, pole or fence and have a complete workout!
Koren: Running is the best low cost fitness option out there! I just need my running shoes and I'm ready to go. As far as virtual fitness goes, I use the Tabata Timer app on my iPhone to time my Tabata workouts, which can include anything from sprints on my spin bike to pushups.
Juliette: There are so many free fitness events happening in New York City -- especially when it starts to get a little bit warmer outside. I've done free boot camps in Central Park, free yoga classes in Times Square -- not to mention the fact that there are so many beautiful running paths in parks and along the rivers. The Parks and Recreation department of the city also has several free fitness programs like Shape Up NYC where you can find everything from free Zumba to prenatal yoga classes at recreation centers and parks across NYC.