LPM Staff

Penny wise, pound wiser

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We’re five months into 2010 and it’s almost swimsuit weather. Are you ready? Have you stuck to that resolution and joined a gym or hired a personal trainer in hopes of getting fit, losing weight, being healthy? Can you see your svelte self in that bikini (or Speedos)?

If you’ve stuck to your guns and you’re ready to don summer attire, congratulations. If not, perhaps resoluteness is not one of your strongest traits. Somehow, something, someone has thrown you off that workout track, even though you’ve been paying an astronomical monthly fee for that gym or exercise guru you haven’t even seen in a while.

The truth is fitness can be had at no cost, except for what you invest in a pair of good athletic shoes. All you have to do is look around you, get a little creative, and get motivated. Call it frugal fitness.

Be your own personal trainer

Make an appointment – with yourself – at least three to five times a week. Pay yourself if you need that monetary pact (talk about frugal), or work out with a friend if that will keep you on track. The key is to keep to a schedule and incorporate exercise into your lifestyle, right? You’ve heard it before.

Web workouts

Don’t want to work out in public but have no clue how to do the exercises to rid the junk in the trunk? Or maybe you just need a refresher on a particular move since you haven’t had much contact with that personal trainer lately. You can find tons of exercises demonstrated, for free, on YouTube or www.exercisetv.tv. More and more websites offer a fitness program suited to your needs, at no cost or very little cost. Google “online exercise programs” and you’ll get a very long list of websites to choose from.

Hiking – bonito y barato

The Valley of the Sun is veritable playground of hikes and beautiful desert vistas to boot. Hiking trails are maintained for abilities of all levels, from path pedestrians to tough trekkers, at Piestewa Peak, Camelback Mountain, Pinnacle Peak, the Superstitions, Papago Buttes, South Mountain and others.

The city of Phoenix website (http://phoenix.gov/parks/hikemain.html) has pages devoted to trails and desert preserves, maps, trail guides, and suggested hikes for those who want to avoid steep climbs or boulder jumping. And guess what? Hiking trails are at your disposal – for free, 365 days a year, and just minutes away.

To get an idea of how much hiking you’d have to do to actually lose weight, you can go to www.healthstatus.com and find out, gratis. Click on the Calories Burned Estimator; enter your weight, the duration of the hike, and it will estimate how many calories you can burn. For instance, if you weigh 150 lbs. and hike for 30 minutes, you can potentially burn about 200 calories. The Echo Canyon Trail of Camelback Mountain can take 70 to 90 minutes to comfortably hike (2.5 miles), so at 150 libras, you can burn roughly 500 calories.

The barrio burn

Everyone has their opinion about how much you should exercise every day. We can all agree that any little bit helps, even if it’s minutes a day. If you don’t have the daily luxury of time and money to go to a gym, you have plenty of opportunities to move your body and burn calories in the simplest ways, right at home or in your neighborhood. You don’t even have to get in the car.

• Go for a morning walk, jog or run in the neighborhood or at the park.
• Take advantage of the nearby high school or a parking garage stairwell and do stadium steps – an awesome cardio and legs workout. Take music with you and get into a rhythm.
• Do you have a pool? Swim in it, don’t just float in it! OK, so they’re not Olympic laps, but they’re laps. Or get a couple of water jugs and do a water-aerobics routine.
• Organize a game of softball, hoops or soccer with your vecinos at the local park.
• Don’t forget the super-simple ways of getting exercise: play with the kids or fetch with the dogs; mow the lawn or pull some weeds; shake out some rugs, mop the floor (suck those abs in). It all adds up.
• It’s true. Once you’ve learned how to ride a bike, you never forget. The health benefits of bicycling are similar to any good physical activity: holistic. Not only do you get a cardio workout – always good for your heart, you also strengthen muscles, improve coordination, build stamina, reduce stress – and have fun. If you don’t already have a bicycle collecting dust in the garage, invest in one. Check out Craigslist, freecycle, or Play it Again Sports, which sells new and used sports equipment.

Community classes

Another inexpensive way to get active is by taking a health-related community class offered by many parks and recreation centers across the Valley. You can take anything from aerobics to zumba to get your blood flowing and your body fit. Check out community centers, gymnasiums or your neighborhood YMCA.

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