Exercising in a Winter Wonderland: How to Be Fit and Frugal
While training for a marathon last winter, I quit my gym membership. Running 18 miles on a treadmill is simply not possible (one could argue, successfully, that running 18 miles is simply insane altogether, but that’s beside the point). What this experience taught me was that it’s not only possible to stay fit in the frigid winter months; it’s also possible to enjoy your workout without spending a lot on a new gym membership. Here are some ideas to get you moving on your own exercise routine this season:
Buy Good Outdoor Workout Gear
This is an absolute must for me. I couldn’t live without my Under Armour fitted running tights and my moisture-wicking top. My standard winter-running outfit keeps me warm after I start moving and wicks away moisture to keep me dry. According to an article in the New York Times, this is the perfect combination for outdoor exercise apparel because it prevents hypothermia, which is brought on by the combination of sweat and cold. You should also buy gear that covers most of your exposed skin in order to prevent frostbite. If bare skin starts to ache, that means that it has fallen to a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit; if it reaches 50, it goes numb. Frostbite occurs when your skin temperature falls to 27 degrees. As an avid outdoor runner, I can tell you that while I have had tingly fingers and toes during some of the colder winter months, I have never had frostbite because I have invested in the appropriate outdoor gear for runners. I can also tell you that being outdoors in the winter, when the majority of the world is inside (and missing out on some beautiful mornings!), is exhilarating.
Find a Good Workout DVD
Not convinced that you want to mix exercise and freezing temps? You could check out a new exercise DVD. No, I’m not suggesting you buy the popular-but-pricey P90X® or Insanity® workouts, or that you purchase a Wii Fit, although those are good ways to get moving indoors. Instead, you could try saving money and getting fit by trying a workout DVD. Try checking out this list of the best workout DVDs as rated by Real Simple Magazine, or try this list of the 10 best as rated by Fitness Magazine. If you’re looking to save even more money, try looking for fitness DVDs at your local library (mine has them for rent!), or order one using your Netflix subscription.
If you’re not one to follow along with a workout on TV, try making your own indoor workout to stay fit this winter. Start with buying some inexpensive hand weights, resistance bands, or a medicine ball. Then just search online for workouts centered around your equipment or the area of your body that you’re looking to tone. You could also create a workout binder to keep yourself on track — mine has favorite weight-lifting moves and stretches from pages I’ve found in fitness magazines, as well as a workout calendar. Tracking your progress in the binder will also help keep you motivated.
Buy a Gym Membership
OK, I know the opening paragraph of this article says that this is about saving money without spending a lot on the gym, but it is possible to get your gym fix, stay out of the cold, and save money. Try buying a month-to-month membership during the winter months at a local facility rather than signing up for a long-term commitment. My YMCA offers low monthly rates without a contract, and a nearby university offers month-to-month memberships for people associated with the university (including alumni association members, which includes me!). Signing up for a gym membership near the beginning of a new year often means that new-member fees are waived, too — always an added bonus.
So there are my tips for keeping on track with your workouts while being budget-conscious too. Before you get started on your own routine for the New Year, check out the CDC’s guidelines for physical activity to give you a baseline on workout frequency and intensity. Then leave me a comment on what you’re going to do to stay fit and fiscally responsible in the coming year!