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How to Stay in Shape For Dirt Cheap

Updated on August 15, 2012

Tell Me if This Sounds Familiar

So, you've made the dive in to your personal health. You adjusted your budget to afford that sweet gym membership and tweaked your personal schedule to make time to go in. A week goes by and you're feeling good, looking awesome, and you've even received a few compliments from the [insert preferred gender]. You say to yourself, "I deserve a day off. By Jove, I've earned a day off." But what happens here? One day turns into two, and two days turns into a week, and so on. I can actually see you nodding on the other end of your laptop right now. Don't bother trying to find out how I know you're both nodding and using a laptop (I'm just good at what I do).

Then, you kind of look at this gym membership you're paying for, and you decide to keep it because you will eventually get back into it. Meanwhile, you're just burning money because that's what we, as human beings, end up doing most of the time. What if I told you there is another way to stay in shape? What if I told you it costs virtually nothing? Still here? Awesome, follow me to the next blurb.

Molding Your Own Home Workout

The gym is pretty much a social club. "Newbies" walk in like a child who has lost grip of his mother's hand at Wal-Mart. The regulars stare them down with a judging condescension similar to a group of vegans watching you devour a porterhouse steak. Well, my friends (we're all friends here), I hereby give you full permission to throw two middle fingers aloft in the direction of your nearest gym because we have ways of skirting those juiced frat boys.

I have compiled a few pointers for those of us who are self-motivated enough to actually work. If you have successfully trained your corgi to retrieve a Pepsi from the fridge so that you don't have to leave the sofa, these ideas may not be for you. Meanwhile, if you on a tight budget and willing to set aside twinkies to allow yourself to look and feel as good as you possibly can, listen up.

"Please Jay, do tell."
"Please Jay, do tell." | Source

1. Running

"Oh no he didn't!" Oh yes, I did. I went there. In fact, I'm going there first before I get into more creative things because running is seriously the best activity a person can do to stay in shape. I can hear a few of you screaming, "But Jaaaay! The joints in my legs are terrible! It hurts to even walk sometimes!" Fist, calm down because I can't focus when people yell at me. Second, just wait until later in this article. Some of us just simply aren't physically able to jump right into a full-out workout plan yet. You have to prepare your body accordingly, or your body will eventually give up on you.

Running, by itself, is a pretty simple activity. Literally everyone on this earth can, knows how to, or has seen someone run before. Meanwhile, America only allows a few of us to squeeze into those onesies and run next to Usain Bolt. My point is that we all have a differing running ability. Therefore, there is not just one coverall statement I can give and feel good about myself. I couldn't sleep at night if I simply told you all to just go out and run two miles every day. Yes, that is a common workout for many people, but not necessarily for you.

Suck it up.  Every Canadian knows how to ski by the age of six.
Suck it up. Every Canadian knows how to ski by the age of six. | Source

Effective running is controlled. If you haven't exerted athletic energy in the past month, don't go out and try to run five miles. Your legs, heart, and entire rest of the body won't allow for it. You have to build yourself up. Go out and lightly jog for a mile. Hell, walk for a mile for all I care. There is no workout routine that will immediately make you look like Michael Phelps. It doesn't work like that. When science develops a Captain America Super Soldier Serum, I'll be the first to let you know, but until then, it's a marathon (see what I did there?).


2. Body Weight Exercises

What better way to improve our body than using our own body to do so? It's poetic justice, really. If there is one truth in this crazy world, it's that we will always weight something, and as long as this is true, we're going to have to carry it around. You could technically lump running/walking in this category, but I'm mainly focused on more of the static exercises in this topic (i.e. pushups, pullups, squats, planks, dips, etc.).

Why do a bunch of people jump right into the gym when trying to get in shape? One reason is that they give a wide array of weights to play around with. Many of the ladies like to play around with those colorful fuzzy weights that weigh pretty much nothing, while the men just want to figure out the biggest dumbbell they can get off the ground. Allow me to point out the insanity of this occurrence. We pay people money so that we can swing rocks back and forth while we can do the same things with our bodies. Yeah, take that in for a second.


There's a reason I chose a military photo up there to place next to my point. We've all seen Boot Camp documentaries on television, but has anyone noticed the actual workouts? How many weights are used? Every exercise they engage in is done with their own individual body weight. Yes, they will use pull-up bars, so that they can pull their own "maggot asses" up, but the essence is there: they only use their own body weight.

I have to also insert a little caution paragraph here, too. Don't try to be a hero right off the bat. If you can't do a pushup, pullup, or triceps dip, don't just disregard it. There are tons of variations that allow you to work at your own pace and not injure yourself.


3. Yoga

I cannot speak more highly of a fitness routine when it comes to Yoga. Granted, you can't just sit up from bed one morning and say, "I'm going to do Yoga today," and be perfectly able to pull everything off. Like everything else in life, it takes work to see the best results. Meanwhile, many people like to go to yoga classes to participate in the activity. Again, we are presented with the "outsider" scenario. You're not going to be as adept as everyone else who has been attending the classes regularly for some time. If you feel like going through that and spending the money, go for it, but that is not the basis of my article.

Do you have access to the internet? If you don't, then how are you even reading this?! Once you look past all the porn and political blogs, the internet actually holds some pretty decent information, including yoga poses. I actually just randomly googled "yoga poses" and was given over five million results. Do you really need to pay an instructor to give you what Google gave me for free? Yes, it takes some time to get the poses right and incorporate them into a singular routine, but it's your routine. Make your routine suit your needs and goals. It's a beautiful thing.

One Final Thing...

Does anyone remember Rocky IV? Of course you do, who am I kidding. Remember how Rocky trained in a barn with nothing but himself and a few logs and rocks? Remember how he single-handedly ended the Cold War? Each and every one of us can do that. That is the very essence of Rocky. He is what each and every one of us can achieve. We don't need expensive gym memberships, trendy gadgets, or a pill to do our jobs for us. The only thing we really need is ourselves and a desire for a lifestyle that doesn't eventually include a Hoveround.


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    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Running is really hard on my bad knee, so I prefer skating. (Disclaimer: I may also prefer skating because I'm a die-hard roller derby fan.)

    • kissayer profile image

      Kristy Sayer 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      What a great hub, I especially love the pictures - haha!