Recently I was sent an email about a blogger competition (UK bloggers only). Legal and General have conducted some research and found out that when budgets at home get tight, the gym membership is one of the first things to cancel. They want to encourage people to get fit without the gym, and want bloggers to post about it. You can see the details here in case you fancy entering.
Years ago I was a member of the gym, but I found that I preferred the classes to the actual gym, and now as I can only get to one a week it is cheaper for me to pay as I go. But I need to focus on the free things. So here are the things I do to keep active:
Walking is brilliant. It gets you out in the fresh air. It takes you away from the sofa. It can be a lovely gentle activity (when I was recovering from my op I had to walk each day, but just gently), but it can be more of an aerobic workout if you walk fast, or up hills, or do some hiking. You can look at nice scenery while you walk. Or you can multi-task- walk to the shops, or to work (if you are lucky to live close enough). No matter what the weather is like you can walk. If it is raining, put on some boots and put up your hood. If it is cold, wear gloves. Often we used to go on a walk after dinner, just around the fields and housing estate where we live, but recently we have got out of the habit.
This is pretty much free, so long as you have a garden and the equipment you need (shears/ trowel etc). When we first moved our little garden was not cared for at all- it was basically an old patio and a little lawn. Through the years we have gradually added more plants (and some of these are cuttings from other people so they have been free), and so this has been a constant source of free activity for us both. Digging up weeds, cutting back plants and carrying all the garden waste around to the green bin all add up. Plus again you are out in the fresh air. We have an allotment, which although isn’t free, is inexpensive (I think our plot is £30 a year, which isn’t much). The weeding alone is a massive strength workout! Often the papers have offers for free seeds, and you can plant seedlings in old egg boxes or cartons, so you can keep costs fairly low. Plus you end up with pretty flowers or tasty home grown produce.
So, of course as with anything, you could spend loads on all the gear, and race entries etc. But if you already have trainers and a sports bra, you are good to go (and I feel that with the theme of “cancelling gym membership”, you would have those things). You can go for a run as soon as you get home from work. You don’t have to wait for the treadmill hogger to get off. You don’t have to book on to the class.You can run on your own, but if you want to run with company then there are free options out there too.
Option 1: Go along to your local Sweatshop running group. They offer free weekly runs, usually with a guide from the shop. It is totally free, and as a bonus you get a technical t-shirt after only a few runs. Amazing! And free.
Option 2: Sign up to your local parkrun. They offer free weekly 5k runs (not races)- they are timed so if you like stats or beating your pb they may appeal. You have to do 50 runs to earn your free t-shirt- this is going to take me years but I will get there!
Both of these options are fantastic for all stages of runner- at parkruns people can walk around in 50 minutes or sprint around in 15, children can join in (they even have some specific,shorter junior events) and every single runner will be encouraged by all the volunteers. At Sweatshop the staff tend to be keen runners, so they will be on hand for advice about stretches, routes, kit and so on. My local one does a beginners group (sort of a couch to 5K) as well as our more varied group. And if you love it then of course you can sign up to both.
When I was marathon training I took yoga rather more seriously, and I used to use the free yoga for runners podcast from yoga download. I really need to start doing it again, but as you can tell I am not as motivated by this as by running. But anyway, the point is the internet is pretty big, and you can find pretty much anything you want on there. You tube is full of workout videos. But for me it is not as good as the others as it is not outside in the fresh air. Unless you have a tablet or something and can take it out into the garden. (But then if I did that I know I would get distracted and notice weeds and end up gardening with the website playing in the background….)
As you can see there are plenty of ways to keep active without even setting foot in a gym, and I personally feel that getting some fresh air has such huge benefits- it is so important to get some fresh air (and daylight if you can) every day.
How do you keep active? Are you a fan of the gym or do you prefer other ways of exercising?