Ten Ways to Slash your Fitness Costs This Year

3 Jan

Well, here we are again. The mince pies have been guzzled and the mulled wine slurped, so it must surely be time for the annual Get Fit resolution. Every year, like lambs to the slaughter, we troop down the swankiest gym in town and sign over £500 for an annual membership. And we go every evening, don’t we girls? We’re inspired, energised, determined, totally focused on acquiring buns of steel. Till one rainy night near the end of the month when, after a crappy day at work, we decide that it’s just a little too miserable out there, and we’re just a little too hungry, and well, we’ve been good for weeks now, don’t we deserve a night off? So we rush home and make a nest on the sofa with a toffee pudding and before we know it it’s March. Sound familiar? I bet it does. That’s how gyms all over the country make their money. Skint girls don’t fall for their tricks. We develop different ways of getting our exercise, while saving ourselves a bundle. Anyway, after spending eight hours of the day on a treadmill at the office do you really want to hand over your wages to climb aboard another one at the gym? When did exercise become about lugging ourselves to sweaty gyms and being forced to listen to tattooed guys grunting, whilst wearing bizarre leather gloves? Not exactly stylish, is it? The skint in the city girl knows there are many more ways to get her blood pumping. Here are my top ten:

1. Run Like the Wind: For me, running is the ultimate multi-taskers exercise: it provides my fresh air and daylight quota at the same time my exercise one. Who would choose to be stuck in the gym when you can be running with the squirrels in the park? I get a playlist going on the iPod and run in time with the rhythm of the song: for my money running really is the biggest bang-for-your-buck exercise around.

2. Walk the Walk: Another perfect exercise for girls on the go. Not many of us have time to squeeze in the gym at lunchtime: not by the time we get there, get changed, do our workout, shower afterwards and do the return trip to the office. But keep a pair of trainers under your desk at work and you’re all set for a brisk lunchtime stride through the city, or to a park in summer. And there’s nothing like walking home from work to wipe away the day’s worries.

3. Take a Hike: Getting out of the city and into the country with friends for a day can feel like a mini-holiday, and the view from the top tends to put the worries of the week into perspective.

4. Cycle: I admit I’m a lightweight and that battling through the rain and wind just isn’t for me, but give me a sunny morning and a cycle to work through the park and I couldn’t be happier. One thing that puts people off using their bike to get to work is the problem of carrying their stuff. If you just take a handbag and/or lunchbox to work the best bet is a bike with a basket on front – so chic and Parisian. Remember to keep a big plastic bag in the basket so you can protect your belongings in unexpected showers. If you tend to carry more stuff, eg a laptop, invest in a couple of panniers for the back. Buying panniers opens up a world of possibilities – suddenly you can stuff a few clothes and a toothbrush in one and take off on a Saturday morning for the weekend. It’s freedom like no other.

5. Hula hoop: Not just for the playground, hula-hopping is one of the best-kept exercise secrets. Do it in front of the telly for just ten minutes every night and I promise you’ll have a better waist than Jessica Rabbit. Within days. Hula-hooping would be my desert island exercise of choice.

6. Skipping: Another oldie but goodie. As well as making you feel like a kid again (see if you can still remember those playground skipping rhymes!) skipping is a fantastic toner. Well, did you ever see a flabby boxer? Buy a skipping rope with weighted handles (you can pick one up for under £10) for an extra arm workout.

7. Floor exercises: matwork isn’t just for the aerobics class. Sit-ups, push-ups and leg extensions can all be done while watching telly in the front room – bonus!

8. Equip yourself: Some pieces of gym equipment can be cheaply bought and easily adapted for your home workout. Gym balls are wonderful pieces of equipment and can be used for exercising just about every part of your body. These darlings can also be used in place of a chair at your computer desk: they’re incredibly comfortable and brilliant for the posture. Two bottles of water or some unopened food cans make great weights for exercising at home. Even if you splash out on a set of dumbbells they’ll cost you less than £20 – half the price of one month’s gym membership.

9. Webercise: Don’t want to shell out on a range of pricey exercise DVDs? Then look to the web for plenty of free workouts on every exercise type under the sun. From Pilates to kickboxing, workouts to suit every taste are available absolutely free. Check out www.sparkpeople.com for bite-sized exercises routines for busy girls on the go.

10. Take the Stairs: By now we all now that we should ditch the lift at work and take the stairs instead. This year, I’m going to put it into practice, no matter how heavy my bag. Running continually up and down the bottom two stairs at home gives just as good a cardio workout as a step class – even five minutes of doing this before dinner quickly shows benefits.

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