“Wanna get Italian sandwiches? I’ve got a BOGO!” And thus began my first real date* with my husband nearly 13 years ago – with a buy-one-get-one coupon and a warm bottle of Coke he pulled out of his trunk. Some girls might have been scared off by this. But one girl’s Spartan is another’s frugality and it turns out I love me a good bargain (even if at the time I was a vegetarian who never, ever drank soda). It was this story that came to mind as I read the introduction to The Complete Guide to Frugal Fitness (aff) by Michael J. Schiemer, who has the distinction of being one of the most miserly meatheads** I’ve ever met. And I say that with total respect.
Schiemer, who in addition to being an author is also a certified personal trainer, degree-holding exercise scientist and CEO of My Frugal Fitness, has dedicated himself to teaching what we all know but is so easy to forget: that eating healthfully and exercising does not have to be expensive. Especially for those of us that are fitness nerds who geek out over the next cool app, product or supplement, it can be easy to drop a ton of cash on our pursuit of a healthy (wealthy?) lifestyle. But it doesn’t have to be all boutique gyms and $80 vitamins.
In his book, Schiemer first tells you his personal experience of going from a college kid with the freshman 15 to the ripped (and more importantly, healthier) dude he is now – all while maintaining his frugal nature. First he shares his tips for eating whole foods without ever stepping in Whole Foods and then he gives you two total body workouts — one requiring no equipment (give it up for bodyweight exercises!) and one requiring less than $100 worth of equipment. Try going to a sports store and telling them you want to set up a home gym for under $100. They will laugh themselves silly. But just like a $2 jump rope can get you a better cardio burn than a $2000 elliptical, a $10 set of resistance bands can work you as hard as a $1000 Bowflex machine. (Although if you have $20, my personal advice is to make your own TRX. Real or homemade, that’s still my #1 favorite home gym piece of equipment.
One of the sentiments I hear most when people talk about celebrity weight loss is “Well, if I had a personal trainer and a personal chef and a personal gym and access to all the best foods and supplements and knowledge then I’d look bikini-ready year round too!” And, let’s be honest, it’s kinda true. While money can’t buy health, it certainly can help a lot! (Plus it can buy surgery *cough,cough*) But people sometimes get so caught up worrying about what they don’t have that they forget about all the options we do have. Exercise can be as simple as throwing on a pair of shoes and going for a walk. Nutrition can be as basic as canned tuna fish, a sweet potato and some salad greens. Yes, money helps but lack of money doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy.
So as a free gift to you Michael has put together a free 1-month frugal workout for the cheapskate in all of us! (Or for anyone who just likes to be told what to do.) Check out his blog for his best money saving tips.
Here are a few of my own fave cheapo tips for summertime!
- Band together. Skip the gym fees and organize a weekly (or more often) workout at a local park with your friends. The nice thing about this (besides that it’s f-r-e-e) is that it’s totally flexible. Need to switch the time? No prob. Got a bunch of munchkins? Bring ‘em! Need to vent about your lame boss? Just save it for the stretching at the end! You don’t need to be a pro bootcamp instructor to come up with an effective workout but if you need ideas, check out my park workout!
- Eat weird stuff. I know, it goes against all our inner toddlers but summertime means farmer’s markets and Asian, Halal, Hispanic and other alternate grocery stores often have great, healthy staples for super cheap. You just have to be willing to step out of your box a little bit. You may not be able to read all of the labels but that funky fruit will probably taste good (and if it doesn’t at least you’ll have a good story to share! Hello, jackfruit…).
- Practice finding ways you can make stuff work rather than ways you can’t. This is probably my best frugal tip because sometimes just changing our mentality from “can’t” to “can” makes all the difference. Yeah I know somewhere Yoda is rolling in his grave (Is he even dead? Or is he like a Jedi deity or something?? Can you tell I only saw those movies once and slept through half of them?) but I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had where people throw up one “can’t” after another and challenge me to find a way to make fitness work for them. (I can’t! I have… an injury/kids/illness/no money/full-time job/horrible bacne/addiction to Real World reruns!). While I don’t mind at all helping people find solutions – real life IS messy – it can get frustrating when they’re so focused on all the reasons they “can’t” that they won’t even hear how they “can.” Because in the end, you can read all the great expert tips out there (and no I’m not including myself as an expert!) but they won’t do you any good until you decide that you can give it a shot.
So this month the Gym Buddies and I are doing our best to do fitness on the cheap! Any of you want to join us (whatever “frugal” means to you)?? Any other frugal fitness folks out there? Please share your best tips! And feel free to link to your own site too if you have a post that covers this!
I live in Greensboro, NC and every Monday and Wednesday free exercise classes are offered at one of the parks downtown. I believe that victory and defeat start in your mind. You don’t need a gym membership to get in shape. Walking/jogging/running is free. Although problems may exist, too many people are making excuses regarding their health and fitness level.