When times are tough, many people look to make budget cuts where they think it will “hurt” the least – most often in the form of health and fitness luxuries like gym memberships and health food. This practice might give consumers a piece of mind, but it’s certainly not helping them when they reach for the extra piece of pie!
According to Stacy Berman, a certified fitness trainer in New York City, “the first thing people reach for when they are stressed out is comfort food. That would be fine if they were keeping up their healthy routine, but fitness is often swept under the rug when a person feels the pinch in their wallet.” Stacy believes you don’t have to break the bank to stay fit: “I agree that there are a lot of exercise gimmicks out there; but people can easily cut back on fitness ‘extravagances’ without completely cutting exercise out of your routine.”
Stacy has devised five “frugal fitness tips” to help people stay healthy and within their budget their holiday season.
Frugal Fitness Tip # 1: Strength in Numbers!
With so many consumers cutting back on spending, personal trainers and gyms are feeling the burn. Stacy recommends quitting your one-on-one training sessions in favor of a group discounted rate. “Many trainers will accept a larger group of people for a lower individual rate,” says Stacy, “it’s a great way to reduce spending on fitness but keep the motivation factor there.”
Frugal Fitness Tip #2: The Cheaper the Meat, the Bigger Your Waist
According to Stacy, many consumers will have to make sacrifices when it comes to consuming high-price items like meat. If you are a meat eater, Stacy warns you not to go overboard with cost cutting. “Often the cheapest cuts of meat are also the cuts with the highest fat content. You may be saving a dollar or two, but it could add up your calorie content higher than it used to be,” says Stacy. Instead, chose moderately priced lean cuts of meat and scale back on your side dishes. Stacy recommends whole grain, fiber rich foods like rice and beans to compliment your meals.
Frugal Fitness Tip #3: Every Little Bit Counts
The world is your playground – literally! Stacy is a big fan of using everyday activities to burn extra calories. She runs her out outdoor boot camp, Stacy’s Boot Camp, in the public parks of New York City, and her classes use no more than their bodies and a few water bottles to garner outstanding results. “You don’t always need fancy gym equipment to get into great shape,” says Stacy, “just a set of dumbbells and a chair can get you to your fitness goals without breaking the bank.” According to Stacy, as the holiday season approaches, take advantage of calorie burning activities like raking leaves, building snowmen and ice skating!
Frugal Fitness Tip #4: Be Prepared to Prep!
The place where money is wasted the most is in the pre-packaged food aisles, says Stacy. “Spending extra money on things like pre-washed and pre-cut lettuce, for example, is a huge money pit,” says Stacy, “buying whole foods and preparing it yourself will not only cut back on costs but it will ensure you are not eating extra preservatives or additives in packaged foods.”
Frugal Fitness Tip #5: Use the “Dollar Menu” Wisely
Stacy admits there are times when you may have no choice but to eat at fast food restaurants. However, Stacy notes that many if not all fast food chains are offering not only healthy but appetizing options for those both on a diet and a budget. “When choosing to eat from a fast food restaurant, it’s simple to stay on the health track,” says Stacy, “I tell my clients to avoid the words ‘crisp,’ ‘double’ and ‘big’ at all costs.” There are some great choices to be had at many restaurant chains – including Wendy’s Small Chili, McDonalds Salads with Grilled Chicken and Burger King’s Whopper Jr. without cheese.