Thursday, October 02, 2008

How to save $500

Cancel your gym membership like I did yesterday.

You don't need it. Heck, you probably haven't been to the gym in over a year. So long, in fact, that they've overhauled the elevators and you can't figure out which button is the 'up' button. That's just a generalization and has probably never happened to me.. umm.. I mean you.

When I moved to DC in February 2003, one of the first things I did was find a gym. I didn't want anything too frilly, but wanted something that was metro accessible and had a swimming pool. Those were top on my list. I found my 'ideal gym' at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel where there was a pool (albeit not the greatest, but swimable) and it was located right where I had to transfer trains home. Additionally, it was rarely crowded. I didn't use the cardio equipment or the machine weights much as I opted for the free weights in the separate room. When I got the grand tour when I first signed up, I wasn't shown the 'other room' until I asked about the free weights. I was only shown the 3lb-12lb dumbbells in the main room. Around the corner and down the hall (where I would do walking lunges from time to time) was the almost always empty free weights room. I put in the most work in during 2004 when I prepared for my 2nd attempt at the HAT Run 50k, 1st attempt at the Bull Run Run 50 miler, 2nd attempt at Ironman Wisconsin, and then the first ever Chesapeake Man Ultra Distance (Iron) Triathlon, which was 4 weeks after IM Wisconsin.

It has been downhill since then.

I went the the pool at Eastern Market more often and spent more time swimming, biking, and running than I did lifting weights. When I started up with rugby in 2006 I got back into the weight room, but couldn't find the consistency. After Ironman Lake Placid last year, I dropped just about everything.

In these times of economic woes, people are looking to cut costs and save money. I've been reading about simple grocery shopping tips such as, novel idea, actually grocery shopping and cooking at home instead of eating out, using coupons, and buying store brand instead of name brand products. I grew up eating rice from a black and white box (or yellow and black) box that was considered 'generic'. How generic? The box had "RICE" written on it, and that was about it. It wasn't called 'store brand', which is now en vogue, it was called what it was - a plain ol' box of rice.

Other people are looking to cut costs by changing cell phone plans, satellite or cable TV packages, and going to a library instead of buying new books. Simple things. Here's another tip to help save money - stop going to the gym. No, I'm not saying that you should stop working out, but that you could get as good a workout at home for a fraction of the cost of a globo gym. At minimum, here's what you could use:

Good pair of shoes
Jump rope
Dumbbells/kettlebells (1 pair of either - 35lbs m/20lb-25 f)

You could even nix the weights, but spending $3 on a jump rope is a good investment. You think running for 20-30 minutes is tough? Try jumping rope for the same amount of time and tell me how your calves feel afterwards. Think you look silly jumping rope? Do jumping jacks instead, but don't be lazy about it with bent elbows. Keep your arms straight and really 'flap your wings'. Your lats and shoulders should be nice and warmed up. And, yes, you look silly.

After warming up, do 10 body weight squats, then 10 sit ups, then 10 push ups. Easy? Do it as many times as possible in 30 minutes. You just completed a full body workout in 40 minutes and didn't have to leave your house. Too boring? Not hard enough? Do a countdown of reps from 10 to 1 alternating burpees and Hindu push-ups. Feeling it now? Feeling badass? Try "Murph", a CrossFit Hero workout - 1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, 1 mile run. That seated row is looking pretty cush now, isn't it?

An endless selection of machines and free weights to choose from is a nice luxury, but not a necessity. Heck, I have an array of workout equipment from bands to stability balls and dumbbells to a doorgym and bikes that don't get used as much as intended, so I might not be the best person to preach about minimalistic workouts outside a globo gym. What I do know is that $39/month (I've had the membership since Feb 03; new members now pay around $55) won't be automatically taken out of my checking account each month for something I don't use.

Why did I keep the membership for so long? In case I finally decided to workout there; it was cheap; and it was close by, to name a few. Cutting ties with a gym is like losing a friend. But with friends you can 'drop by' and see them on Facebook for free; whereas with a gym, you have to pay anywhere from $7-15 for a visit.

Even though the relationship.. er, membership is over after over 4.5 years, there is no bitterness. It's actually not officially gone until the end of this month, so I have another 28 days to not go. What a perk.


At 5:14 PM, Blogger The Wigan Crossfitter said...

Agree 100%.

My gym membership runs out in November.

Good riddance to the silly place.

I can do push ups and burpees and squats and even dips at home. I can buy a pull up bar and fit it in my kitchen, kettlebells are getting cheaper and dumbbells are easy to stash in a box when I've finished with them.

Oh yes, and I can run outside in the world, with dogs chasing me and cars failing to notice me..y'know FUN!

At 10:43 AM, Blogger Katie said...

LOL... Jen, you've found quite the ally in Steve. Bah to globo gyms! :)


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