My “frugal” workout

IMG_0522Well, okay, my workout isn’t all that frugal: I work out with my Wii Fit.  Sure, after the initial purchase, it costs me zero in terms of commute time, extra equipment, special clothes, memberships, etc., but that initial purchase . . . let’s just say we’re still paying it off!

If my partner and I were both using it regularly, we could say it was replacing a gym membership for both of us which would make sense financially, but at the moment it’s just me.  In any case, we bought the thing so it makes sense to use it.

But what about some other frugal workout options?  I suppose the ideal would be that our lifestyles would be healthy and active enough that we wouldn’t need to take out a gym membership.  Or even better, a day job that used your body and kept it healthy: some jobs that spring to mind are letter carrier, bike courier, farmer, sanitation engineer, gym instructor/personal trainer . . . even teachers, on their feet all day, get a work-out as they work.

But for those of us with desk jobs, it feels good to move the body after a long day of hard sitting.  But what are our most frugal options?

Many of my friends love jogging.  The arguments for it: you don’t need fancy clothes or a membership, and there is no extra travel time or time spent showering to factor in.  You do need good shoes for jogging, and there are many clothes and gadgets you can buy to make your jog more expensive (like a thingy that synchs up to your iPod Touch that records your distance and calories burned which you can then upload to a Nike website to compete compare with other people).  But if you just want a cheap and amazingly efficient workout, jogging is one of the best.

I’ve never been a jogger, but one thing I love is swimming.  It works out the whole body with very little impact on the joints.  The trick here is finding a pool with a monthly or multi-session pass that isn’t too expensive.  In my neighbourhood, there’s Jack Purcell (which is actually too warm for lap swimming), University of Ottawa which has very good prices, but the best deal may be the Cartier Suites Hotel.  You can get access to their pool, sauna, hot tub and work out room, all for only $25 per month!  It’s a pretty amazing deal; the only catch is it only runs from the 1st to the end of the month so you can’t start mid-month.  But this is a deal many of my neighbours take advantage of.

There is also a new website called Fit-In 15 that encourages people to do just 15 minutes of exercise per day.  They have sample exercises and suggestions for working a simple exercise regime into your day.  This is great for people who don’t have a big chunk of time to dedicate to working out, but would like to fit in exercise a few minutes here and there throughout the day.  The exercises are not new, but what’s wrong with that?

You might think that the Wii Fit has some amazing trick to make your workout “fun”.  There are the “balance games” but those aren’t real exercise.  The core of Wii Fit is a selection of simple classic exercises that a virtual trainer leads you through. Exercises like torso twists, sit-ups, push-ups, leg lifts, squats, as well as a variety of yoga poses that stretch and strengthen different parts of the body.

These are exercises people have been using for generations to tone their bodies in high schools, army boot camps and cheerleader training.  If you have decent technique and perhaps a book or website to suggest smart combinations, you could do a thorough workout in your own living room, no shirt, no shoes, no service fees.  You don’t really need a balance board or a cartoon lady in a blue room to lead you through a set of 20 sit-ups.

The trick with any of these workouts is motivation, and that is a topic for another day.


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