Posts Tagged ‘exercise’


Cheap exercise

May 27, 2009

A little while ago I blogged about barefoot running, than which no exercise could be cheaper.

Today Google Reader suggested I might be interested in gubernatrix’ blog on strength training, and lo, there is a recent post on fitness on a budget. Not a bad read, I thought. Reminded me of Mistress Krista’s suggestions at Stumptuous.

Personally I train regularly with Capoeira Mandinga, which is extremely cheap as martial arts clubs go. I get sufficient jollies from this that it would be last on my list of things to give up. And I’m riding my bike as often as I can. That’s got to be the most fiscally virtuous exercise I do, because it actually saves money.

Confession: I do belong to a gym. I got a deal on the joining fee years ago, and I pay $33 a fortnight, a rate which is unobtainable now, but which I have locked in permanently. I belong because I like to lift weights, the gym is close enough to work that I can work out in my lunch break, and I don’t have the space at home to set up a weight room.

I have figured out that since I joined four years ago, I could have bought a power rack, a bench, an Olympic bar and 200kg of plates with the money, and this bugs me. As and when we move somewhere with more permanent intentions, a home gym will be on the list. Even now, I ask myself whether I wouldn’t like to save $858 per year, and several hours per week, and find some other way to do strength training.

In any event, my tips for cheap gym membership are:

  • buy an existing membership to a chain gym from someone else. Saves a joining fee, and as rates go up and up continually, you’ll pay their old rate, not whatever the gym is currently offering
  • don’t sign up on your first visit. Some gyms are really bad like this — they’re cagey about their prices when you ring and want you to visit, and then if you fall for that they want you to sign on the spot. Tell them tough. If they want your business, they’ll give you the same deal tomorrow.
  • most of the chains have promotions annually or six monthly where they waive or reduce the joining fee. Wait.
  • if all you need is somewhere to lift, check out somewhere bare bones like the Powerhouse.

Or don’t join a gym at all. Gyms make their money from the customers who sign a contract and then don’t turn up, which turns out to be most of them. Take gubernatrix‘ advice, do your push-ups, run to work, and find something heavy to lug around.

How do you keep fit cheaply?


Cheap exercise — barefoot running

April 21, 2009

Running has always been one of the cheapest ways to exercise. No need for classes, or training, or admission fees, and no need for equipment except clothes you can sweat in and special shoes.

Except it turns out that the special shoes might be a giant con too.

I saw this story from the Daily Mail yesterday, but it’s not the first one I’ve read that claims that running barefoot or in plain sneakers is better for you than running in expensive “running shoes.” In fact, you get the impression that they should really be called “injury shoes.”

Money quote:

Despite all their marketing suggestions to the contrary, no manufacturer has ever invented a shoe that is any help at all in injury prevention.

If anything, the injury rates have actually ebbed up since the Seventies – Achilles tendon blowouts have seen a ten per cent increase. (It’s not only shoes that can create the problem: research in Hawaii found runners who stretched before exercise were 33 per cent more likely to get hurt.)

In a paper for the British Journal Of Sports Medicine last year, Dr Craig Richards, a researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia, revealed there are no evidence-based studies that demonstrate running shoes make you less prone to injury. Not one.

I can attest that back when I had time to run, I switched to barefoot running for half hour sessions on the pavement. No problem, and previous issues with pain in my shins never re-occurred.

My Dad trained with Murray Halberg, following Arthur Lydiard‘s method based on “long slow distance”. Dad is fond of recounting how they pounded the hills of Auckland for hours wearing canvas sandshoes “and we never got hurt.”

So, dear readers: we recommend running, if you like it — and it’s now cheaper than ever before!