Frugal fitness and weight loss is a hot topic in our household lately. When we moved last month, we lost our free community gym that we used frequently and were seriously considering getting a gym membership. We hated to spend $60/month but were concerned that if we didn't we would lose our motivation and halt the progress we had been making.
After some trial and error, we found a system that works even better than the gym for almost nothing!
Here's what we learned:
1. SparkPeople: This is a free website (and smartphone app) that concentrates on behavior modification. You can track food, workouts, sleep, and "healthy habits". They have a great social community that's really supportive and assign points to track your progress. You can run reports to analyze your data and they give tons of feedback to steer you in the right direction. They also give you points for reading health inspired articles. This is actually one of my favorite aspects of the site. They have hundreds of amazing short articles that cover everything you could ever want to know. To make it easy they recommend 4 articles a day so you never feel overwhelmed.
2. Craiglist: We decided to invest in a small home gym and surfed craigslist frequently until we found a NordicTrack Elliptical for $25. The battery for the display needed to be replaced and the owner hadn't really used it and didn't understand what a simple fix that would be. (These types of deals are common on craigslist just be patient and keep looking). We grabbed a few dumbbell weights from Wal-Mart for $10, and I already had a Pilates Ball, Resistance Bands, and a Yoga Mat. Also consider searching for items that people have posted as free and offering a nominal amount for them to give you a better chance of snagging it.
Feel like splurging?
Let me introduce you to the Fitbit! The Fitbit is expensive (at least by my standard). The Fitbit One is about $100, the Fitbit Force is about $129. If you're going to splurge on anything though, I would splurge on this. The Fitbit is an activity tracker that you wear either on your bra, your waist band, or in your pocket (or the wrist if you buy the Force). It measures steps, distance, stairs climbed, active minutes (minutes that your working hard, like in a work out), and sleep quality. You can also track food and water consumption (or link it to sparkpeople or myfitnesspal and the data entered there will automatically transfer). It gives you the amount of calories that you burned that day (even incorporating calories that you burned while sleeping or resting) and you can see charts of calories you've eaten compared to calories you've burned off. I've had mine since the first week of December and love it. There's an unexpected social aspect where you can add friends and cheer or taunt each other as they rank you and your friends by a 7 day daily step average. It helps you quantify the small changes you can make during the day so you can see what a difference the little things can make. For instance I can stay on my feet all day and fit in two 10 minute workouts and get better calorie burn and higher numbers than if I sit in front of the TV or computer most of the day and then go running. The best practice is to stay on your feet and then go running, but this helps you to be conscientious of what your doing, even on off days.
You can learn more about the fitbit by clicking here.