Who Needs a Gym?

Although my days of gorging on calorie-laden dorm foods are in the past, I have yet to lose my "Freshman 15," which has resiliently remained with me throughout college.  Even worse, when I was actually able to afford a gym membership, I decided not to bother.  Now that I really need to work out, I'm conveniently unemployed and can't afford to go to the gym, let alone pay for a non-happy hour priced drink.  Nevertheless, my determination to get in shape has pushed me to explore workout options outside of the gym, especially if they are outside and eco-friendly, as it doesn't waste immense amounts of energy like electrically powered cardio machines in the gym.  Here are some money-saving, green workouts to get the body you want. A great way to save gas money, get fit, and help the environment is to ditch your car and start biking as a means of transportation.  You can connect with other bikers at World Commute, a non-profit social network aimed at encouraging non-motorized transportation for a healthier, cleaner environment.

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With all of the fancy workout equipment out there, we forget about the practical equipments available in and parks that can give us the same benefits. To tone up, do pull-ups on the monkey bars, crunches and push-ups on a bench, step-ups on stairs, and lunges along the sidewalk.  Let your inner kid loose and use a jump rope or a hula hoop for a quick and effective cardio boost and ab-toning.  You can also look for EXERSITES and Fitness Trails, which are outdoor exercise systems made of recycled plastic, and located in parks, recreation areas, school grounds, and other public spaces for people to exercise outdoors.

For a long workout, head over to a nearby national park near you via the National Park Service for team sports, rollerblading, or a power walk.  Runners looking for motivation can join a Running Meetup Group to stay accountable.half_big

For those rainy days you need to stay indoors, be creative with effective workouts you can do right at home.  There are plenty of workout videos you can rent at your local library or download for free online, so you can workout free of charge in the comfort of your own living room.  All you need is a mat or a carpeted floor to ease your back during floor exercises.   Yoga to the People has 60 minute Power Flow audio lessons that you can download for free onto your iPod for an intense, stress-relieving workout.  For exercises that target certain muscle groups, check out FitTV's free Virtual Video Training, which provides specific workouts to increase your strength and flexibility in every part of your body.

With all these great options, going to the gym seems quite unnecessary, doesn't it? Be kind to the environment and to your wallet - it's a win-win situation.

Photo (left) from Fitness Trails; Photo (right) from New York Road Runners