Monday, March 29, 2010

Fitness, Cheapskates & Me

For me, the time for resolutions doesn't come with the new calendar year, but with the academic school year. September is my time of new beginnings. I have nine months of classes ahead of me, a fresh group of students walking into my classroom and new coworkers to get to know. Maybe it was the knowledge that my 30th birthday was sneaking up on me that made this year, the year, I would make a permanent change and commit to an exercise routine.

My friend, the Northern Cheapskate, mentioned earlier this month that Money Saving Blog was challenging people to quit the gym for the month of March. They're not advocating to give up on fitness, but rather to find a more economical way to achieve your fitness goals.

"Quit the Gym" month is a good excuse to share my success and how I avoided spending much to get in shape. A gym membership is not an option for me anyway, but here's what I did for little to no money.

Cheapskate Strategy #1: Get Workout DVDs

At $15 or so a piece, workout videos are really not that expensive. The routines are designed to work your entire body and get your heart rate up for a significant amount of time. If I tried to do exercises on my own, I'm sure I'd quit too soon or neglect certain parts of my body. I'd rather have an expert leading the way and honestly I'm just too lazy to push myself. I accumulated a collection of four different videos over the past few years. I really had good intentions of using them but now was the time to put them (and me) into action.

I started working out regularly in September with a goal of working out at least four days per week. For the most part, I have met that goal and have gotten to know those four videos pretty well (I have the words the instructor says memorized). Things were getting seriously redundant for a while.

Instead of buying more DVDs, I got a brilliant idea that solved the boredom factor. I turned off the volume to the TV and cranked up my favorite tunes instead. It was a heck of a lot better than listening to the same instructor chit chat and strange workout muzak day after day.

Recently I borrowed some videos from a friend. It was just what I needed to change things up a bit and stay interested in my workouts.

Cheapskate Strategy #2: Wear Grubby Clothes

I admire the cutie patootie workout outfits the ladies on the video wear but my old t-shirts and sweat pant cut offs work just fine. Hardly anyone sees them (especially if you're not at a gym) anyway, so what's the difference?

Now I have to admit that I recently bought a pair of stretchy workout capris. BUT they are so darn cute and make me feel like I can leap tall buildings. *sigh* It was a moment of weakness.

Cheapskate Strategy #3: Use Homemade Weights

After I made some good progress with my fitness level I decided I wanted to focus on upper body strength. I needed heavier weights. Of all the dumb things to buy and ship to bush Alaska, it's weights for the sake of having more weight. Instead, C.O. made me two sets of these babies that he found from the dump. They're cast iron parts from double hung windows. He spray painted them white then wrapped them in hockey tape. Yay for DIY!

I'm not really sure how much weight I've lost, maybe 15 pounds, nothing super significant. Weight doesn't really matter anyway. What's important is that I can do so much more physical activity than before and for longer periods of time. The most noticeable and exciting part is that I've dropped two pants sizes since August.

This is where the whole "getting fit on a budget" thing fell apart. Two sizes smaller meant I needed to replace ALL of my pants. Ya, I know, poor me right? A few years ago I came to grips with my new size and got rid of all my tiny pants. The first size down was no big deal, cinch the belt a notch or two tighter, BUT two sizes down . . . I refuse to wear clothes that just hang off my body. So, I've been shopping for quite a few new clothes lately. I figure it's part of my reward for actually being committed to my workouts the past few months.

I'm all proud of myself for sticking to my resolution and actually getting results. So I guess my getting fit on the cheap kind of blew up in my face, but in a good way. =)



Christina said...

Way to go AnnMarie! You're doing fabulous!

I'm working on the diet end of things right now... I still haven't quite figured out where to fit the exercise part in, but I'm working on it.

A friend of mine says she checks out fitness DVDs through Netflix - might be something to prevent you from getting too bored.

James said...

Yes, way to go! You should join our summer wellness challenge. I want you on my team. :)


Cooper said...

Great Job AnnMarie!

The Litrenta Family said...

Way to go AnnMarie! If you look into purchasing any new (or used DVDs from Ebay) I recommend Yoga Booty Ballet :) Yes, I know, sounds funny. But it's quite entertaining! Now that I have said that it's probably about time I dig mine out and put it to use.Keep up the good work!

David said...

Looking points are great about fitness.