Fitness For Cheapskates


You’d really like to start exercising, but you have a problem: gym membership is expensive and you have a B.A. in Student Loan Debt Studies with a minor in Creative Ramen Composition. What to do?

Around the New Year, many people vow to start focusing more on physical fitness (and, of course, by “physical fitness,” I do not mean and will never mean “gettin’ skinny!” because that line of thinking is almost intolerable bullshit), but that’s tough when you can’t afford the gym or you live in a place where there are no gyms or you’re simply not comfortable feeling scrutinized by the lean, muscley faces of the Gym People, the kind with matching Lululemon spandex outfits reading Self on the elliptical.

Of course, the easiest way to exercise sans gym is just get your mitts on a pair of running shoes and start pounding out miles, but even as someone who gulps the running Kool Aid, running is actually kind of unpleasant for some people. Biking is a fun outdoor activity, if you live in an area that isn’t completely inhospitable to bikes. Walking is great, too, if you live somewhere with sidewalks and your work schedule allows you to walk during daylight hours. Finding time to work out isn’t easy, either, if your schedule is built around the assumption that you won’t be working out or if you have a child or very high maintenance dog to take care of.

I’m lucky enough to have a membership to the gym in my neighborhood (and my gym, fun fact, used to be inhabited by the cast of The Real World: Chicago and is across the street from a used bookstore that used to be a very active crack house), and thus I’m not an expert on this, and I appeal to you, dear readers, to help each other fill in the gaps. For those of you who work out without a gym membership, how do you do it? Any tips for someone who might be picking up their activity level after inactivity? What equipment, if any, do you need? How do you carve out time for exercise when you’re already busy? How did you get yourself to stay on task?”

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