Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=112227
Story Retrieval Date: 5/21/2013 3:51:11 AM CST
Beth Furtwangler/ MEDILL
The economy might be on a downward spiral, but that doesn’t mean your exercise routine should suffer.
“During an economic crisis, exercise helps you reduce stress and be more productive,” said Karen Rzesutko, a certified personal trainer and co-founder of Chicago-based Escape 2 Fitness.
Exercise now is really an investment in your health because it acts as a medicine, said Colleen Lammel-Harmon, a fitness specialist and executive director of the Mayor’s Fitness Council.
“In the long run, it’s going to save you money because you’re not having to buy medication or pills,” Lammel-Harmon said.
From working out at home to buying discounted gym memberships, here are six ways to save money but still have a safe, effective fitness routine.
Negotiate and look for deals.
If you want to join a gym, there’s no better time than the present. Membership rates are “definitely more negotiable now,” said Sergio Rojas, director of personal training at Lakeshore Athletic Clubs and owner of ExecuFit Corporate Wellness.
Always check to see if there are any family or company discounts. The requirements for a company to qualify a discount are usually a lot less than people expect, said Rojas, who is also part of the NBC5 Fitness Team.
“It never hurts to ask,” he said.
The Chicago Park District has 60 fitness centers across the city that may not be as fancy as many commercial gyms, but membership rates are generally cheaper, Lammel-Harmon said. Additionally, the Park District is offering a week of free classes from Feb. 2 to Feb. 9, she said.
Share a trainer.
Splitting the cost of a personal trainer with a couple of friends can be a great way to get quality instruction without breaking the bank.
It’s important to learn how to safely and efficiently exercise from a professional, Rojas said. If you already have a trainer but are watching your budget, you can simply train fewer times a week and do more workouts on your own, he said.
Make small investments in your home gym.
Your living room is a perfect place to workout, even without fancy equipment.
“People used to think they had to buy a whole gym,” Rojas said.
If you only buy one thing, Rzesutko recommended an exercise tube, which is a rubber tube with handles on the ends.
“You can vary resistance by the way you hold it,” she said.
Other items Rojas and Rzesutko suggested are medicine balls, stability balls and adjustable dumbbells.
Buy used equipment.
If you want to buy a treadmill or a weight machine to outfit your home gym, check Web sites like Craigslist or go to an estate sale for secondhand equipment, but remember to ask questions.
“You always take a risk [when buying used equipment], like buying a used car,” Rzesutko said. “Find out why they’re getting rid of it, if anything is wrong with it, test it out, see if they’ve every gotten it serviced.”
Take the stairs.
Your nearest “gym” could be right at the end of the hall: the stairwell.
“It’s such a good workout, you’d be surprised,” Rzesutko said of climbing up and down the stairs.
To mix it up and work different muscle groups, Rzesutko recommends running up two at a time or climbing sideways. You can also work in some strength training by stopping at each landing to do some push-ups, squats or lunges.
Turn on the tube.
Home exercise videos can be great – but only if they are appropriate for your fitness capability.
“A lot are designed for people who have progressed through certain levels,” Rojas said.
Check to make sure the intensity of the workout matches your ability, and also make sure the instruction is by a trainer with certification, Rzesutko said.
For an even cheaper option, try some of the instructional workout segments available through On Demand or other cable services, Lammel-Harmon suggested. Likewise, some Web sites offer examples of workouts, but just make sure the site is credible by checking to see if it’s coming from a medical organization, Rojas said.