Growing your own fresh produce not only provides you and your family with naturally grown vegetables and fruits, but it also gives most people a sense of pride knowing where their food came from and that they grew it themselves. Starting a window garden is an inexpensive way to provide fresh herbs and lettuce, a creative way to reuse objects around your house and save a little money — and it’s a fun family activity.
We’ve come to believe that exercise is meant only for specific times and places. Despite the cost, many of us buy gym memberships, visit yoga studios, register for spin classes, hire personal trainers and rely on expensive machinery to get a good workout. In reality, we could all save both time and money by realizing that every gym mat sweat session could be just as effective from inside the living room. (Sorry – no more excuses!)
Start your journey to getting ripped on a budget in the kitchen. Milk cartons, orange juice containers and water bottles make perfect makeshift equipment. Instead of buying multiple different weight increments, you can alter these homemade barbells however and whenever you feel like it. Depending on how heavy you want them to be, fill them with any amount of water, sand or concrete. Next time you go grocery shopping, keep in mind that your drink may soon become your dumbbell, and opt for the ones with handles to make the transition even more convenient.
Many people find that lightweight cans, jars and bags also get the job done. Soup, fruit, tuna, peanut butter, pickles or tomato sauce – as long as the food is securely packed and lifting it brings the burn to your muscles, nothing is off limits! For other alternatives, load a pair of old socks or some heavy pots and pans with dry goods like beans or rice. For even heavier options, fill a retired suitcase, purse, backpack or gym bag with salt or sugar and use the incorporated handles to do effective lifting exercises.
Next, check the garage or backyard for potentially useful items. People suggest working out with other heavy household items such as old tires, bricks, cinder blocks and large bags of pet food. Textbooks or duct-taped old phone books can double as either arm weights or a step aerobics box to work your legs. By utilizing what’s already in storage, you avoid paying to work out, save a trip to and from another location and get two times the use out of each product!
If you’re not crazy about the idea of turning your munchies into machinery, you may want to invest in some simple equipment. Strength bands, dumbbells, yoga balls, Hula-Hoops and jump ropes are just a few examples of affordable and efficient resources. You don’t need to go as far as bench presses and treadmills; with the right workout regimen, these smaller and cheaper options will save you thousands of dollars while still providing a killer workout.
I’ve heard it said that the best things in life are free, and I believe that also applies to exercise. It’s fine if you don’t want to commit to cardio machines – money can’t stand in the way of walking, running, jumping, hiking or dancing. You don’t need funds to treat your staircase like a Stairmaster. If you live near a lake or have a pool in your backyard, swimming and water aerobics are also at your disposal. Use your body as leverage, and equipment for strength training becomes unnecessary; the only thing you’ll need is floor space for pushups, squats, lunges, crunches, burpees and jumping jacks.
The idea of training without equipment or machines can be daunting, but the resources for getting started are endless. Use any online search engine to discover the countless informative websites, how-to blogs and instructional YouTube videos dedicated to teaching no-equipment or minimal-equipment workout routines. You can also use your local library card to rent DVDs, books or magazines for assistance.
One of my biggest concerns about going abroad last semester was leaving my gym behind. I was anxious to say goodbye to the cardio machines and the strength-training equipment I’ve become familiar and comfortable with, but my initial concerns quickly faded as I learned to rely on myself instead of a membership. There are no bounds to physical exercise, so get creative and see firsthand that when there’s a will, there’s a weight!