If your budget is preventing you from signing up for a gym membership, don’t lose motivation – our expert guide will help you get (or stay) in shape without having to spend a single dollar!
For some people, the gym can be an intimidating and expensive way to get into shape. According to a recent IbisWorld report, Australians will spend $2.9 billion on fitness this year. With the average cost of a gym membership ranging from around $70 to $80 a month, your wallet may not benefit quite as much from your decision to shape up as your fitness will! But getting in shape doesn’t have to mean parting with your hard-earned cash. “It’s possible to lose weight and tone up without spending anything,” says personal trainer Em Tweedie. Here’s how…
Walk this way
People underestimate the value of a really brisk walk – it’s free and effective. “You can easily burn 400–600 kilojoules (depending on your gender and body type) in just 30 minutes,” says Tweedie.
“So why not team up with a friend and agree on a walking schedule, even if you have to borrow a dog three or four times a week to motivate you?”
Walking is easy to incorporate into your day – ditch the car and walk all or part of the way to work, take the kids to school and pick up the pace on the way home, or use it as a way to catch up with a friend.
It’s important to check your posture when you walk. Keep your head up, shoulders back and chest out, and engage your abdominal muscles. To burn extra energy, swing your arms fairly vigorously to help get your heart rate up.
On your bike
Don’t let the colder weather prevent you from getting your bike from the back of the shed and dusting it off – you’ll soon warm up when you start to pedal! “Cycling at a moderate speed burns up to 1600 kilojoules an hour,” says Tweedie. “Plus it will increase your metabolic rate for up to 24 hours afterwards, making it easier to keep weight off in the long run.” It’s also great for toning arms and legs, and strengthening your core. “If you can ride to work or the shops, you’ll also save money on petrol”, adds Tweedie.
“For maximum impact, tackle a hilly terrain and challenge yourself to get as far up the hills as you can without having to get off and walk. Then next time, try to go further. Gears are there to make life easier, but leave the bike in a higher gear and peddle as hard and fast as you can for as long as you can. Then drop to a lower gear, slow down and get your breath back before going back to a higher gear.”
Create an outdoor gym
Exercising in the park or your garden on a crisp morning is great for the body and mind. Studies show that exercising outside boosts your mood and increases levels of feel-good hormones.
“Start with a brisk five-minute walk or jog on the spot to warm up,” suggests Tweedie.
“Then pick four points about 10–15m apart (trees, for instance) and walk between them, doing lunges. When you reach the first point, stop to do five squats. At the second point do some push-ups and at the third, try some crunches. Rather than getting fixated with the number of reps you need to do, the rule with any exercise is to do as many as you can until it starts to get tough, then do three more – this will push you to about the right level.
“When you’ve reached your fourth point – and if you’ve got the time and energy – try some shuttle runs: walk to a certain point, jog back, then sprint back again. Repeat a few times. Finally, finish off with some more squats.”
Doing all this for 30 minutes will burn around 1600 kilojoules, give you a total body workout and improve cardiovascular fitness. It’s fine if you can’t do the whole routine – just build it up as your fitness improves.
Free fitness apps
A GPS-enabled app that tracks you as you walk, run or cycle, giving the distance, speed and kilojoules burned. Upload your workouts to the website and join others in fitness challenges.
Nike Training Club
Provides a range of workouts, including cardio and strength training. Most are circuit-based and you can choose your level and length of session, with video to show you what to do.
An easy-to-use diary for tracking both your food intake and exercise efforts. You can choose from 350 cardio and strength training exercises. There is also a website and online community.
These apps are available for free from the iTunes store.