I love to work out at the gym, but that option isn’t for everyone. The gym is expensive and easy to avoid. If you want a cheaper option and need motivation to get in shape, form a frugal exercise club with nearby friends. You have several fitness options:
Walking Club: A walking club is the easiest and cheapest. You can ask several co-workers to take lunchtime walks with you. Plan a variety of routes to avoid boredom. Telecommuters or stay-at-home parents can probably find neighbors to walk with during the day. Walking with neighbors not only provides a social outlet, but knowing you have someone waiting for you forces you to take a much-needed break from your work.
Free Fitness Classes: Many community centers and parks offer a few free fitness classes every week. A yoga teacher offers free daily classes at a park near me. He does accept donations, but they’re not required. Once you find a class that looks interesting, ask a couple friends to attend with you.
Group Exercise at Home: Outdoor exercise isn’t always possible, so you could pool your resources to buy a couple workout DVDs or take turns borrowing them from the library or a rental store. If one of you has cable, check the on Demand menu. Clear a space in someone’s living room or basement and follow the DVD together. Avoid any video that calls for equipment, unless you’re all willing to buy plastic steps and free weights.
Weekend Exercise Club: The Los Angeles area offers ample hiking and other outdoor activities. You probably have many options near you, too. If you’re not sure where they are, borrow local activity and hiking guides from the library. Note some good possibilities, and then ask your friends if they’d be interested in trying them with you. To form our group, my friend created a three-month schedule with hikes, kayaking, yoga, and other activities. She sends weekly reminders of the weekend activity to find out who can attend. I also marked them in my calendar so I know to plan for them. Most of the options are low-cost, which works well with our budgets. At the end of the three months, we’ll plan the next three months. This plan works especially well for areas with good weather year-round, but you can substitute indoor classes if you live in a region with harsh winter weather.
Outdoor activities club:
If your friends won’t join you, find a formal club. The Sierra Club is active in many areas and frequently holds hikes and other activities. Most are free, but some require fees. Once you attend, you may meet new friends who are willing to branch out. You can also check the calendar at local wilderness areas for ranger-led hikes. If you prefer other outdoor activities, ask a local sporting goods store for information about local clubs. You can also Google the name of your city or region and the name of the sport, like “Los Angeles bicycle club.” I’ve always wanted to try orienteering, which is hiking with a competitive goal.
Online exercise motivation club: If you can’t find anyone to work out with you, email long distance friends or relatives to form an online motivation club. Simply knowing that you have to email your progress and activities to friends might be enough to get you off the couch.
Even if your friends are a bunch of couch potatoes, you can probably entice them to form an exercise club with you. Once you all get out there and get moving, it will quickly become a regular habit.