The Money Mom: Fitness Freebies
About four mornings a week, I lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement – either by myself, or with a girlfriend. It’s a time for me to relax and de-stress in the middle of a busy week. Plus, it’s free, and requires very little equipment.
But right about this time of winter, I start to lose my motivation. It’s cold. It’s dark. And, at least in my neck of the woods, it has snowed entirely too much this winter. That’s why this article in the March issue of ShopSmart, a magazine put out by the folks at Consumer Reports, caught my eye.
It’s about fitness freebies, free or very cheap tools to help you recover your motivation to sweat. The best part? Most don’t require you to leave the comfort of your warm, cozy living room, and many are customizable to your time frame – important for busy moms like us. I talked to the editor of the piece, Jody Rohlena, about her favorites of the lot, then added one or two of my own tips.
- ACEFitness.org. Run by the American Council on Exercise, this site offers an entire library of exercises for free. “You can see step-by-step how to do different workouts or moves, and if you’re trying to shape up a particular body part – maybe your tummy, if you’ve had a baby – you can use the site’s search tool,” says Rohlena. ACE doles out certifications to personal trainers and group fitness instructors, so you know the information is coming from a trusted source.
- iTrain.com. This is a podcast that can be played on your smart phone, computer or MP3 player. There are 300 plus workouts available, many from celebrity trainers, so you’re likely to find something you’re interested in (the iTREAD workouts, which are for walking and running, caught my eye). This is a paid site, and individual podcast downloads range from $0.99 to $9.99.
- YogaToday.com. A site that, you guessed it, focuses on yoga classes that stream in video form on your computer. “Yoga is a really great way to get fit as well as soothe your mind and body, and this site is cool because you can access a free class every week. If you haven’t been working out for a while, yoga might be a good way to ease back into it,” says Rohlena. Membership is free, and aside from the weekly free class, there are downloads available for $3.99 each.
- ExerciseTV. Many cable companies offer this channel, which runs constant workout videos, as well as an On Demand channel that lets you access select videos at your convenience. The selection rotates frequently, which is great for variety. My company is currently offering popular videos like Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred and Jackie Warner’s Power Circuit Total Body. For these, and many others, all you need is a set of dumbbells (or even soup cans, if you’re a beginner) and a mat or carpeted surface.
- Finally, be careful. You don’t want to take direction from just anyone, and while there are countless free demonstration and workout videos on sites like YouTube, there isn’t a lot of quality control, says Rohlena. “You should avoid videos taught by people who aren’t qualified. Usually people who have a fitness certification will let you know, so look for an accreditation from the American Council on Exercise or the American College of Sports Medicine.” The last thing you want to do is get hurt.