Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Setting Your Monthly Fitness Budget

Feel like exercising but haven't got the budget for it?

Mitch Felipe's article in the Philippine Inquirer about "Setting Your Monthly Fitness Budget" brings a good point that budget constraints should not hinder yourself from achieving your fitness goals.

Setting your monthly fitness budget
By Mitch Felipe

ASIDE from lack of time, another common reason for not exercising is lack of money to pay for gym membership and the like. But fitness is not only for those who can afford it—you can definitely enjoy it for free.

At the start of the year, plan how much time you will devote to work, family, yourself and health. Then check your budget. How much should be allotted for food, transportation, bills, recreation, clothes and wellness?

If you are just starting to exercise and are still unsure if it’s worth your money, start with free activities. Keep in mind that you can have the long-term benefits of physical activities only if you do your routine consistently.

Monthly budget: none

Walking is a free activity, and you can do it anywhere. If you do it at least 30 minutes a day, you can maintain your weight, and if you try to maintain a moderate intensity continuously for at least 10 minutes, you can improve your endurance. Increase the duration to one hour a day and expect to lose weight at 1-2 lb a week, provided you maintain or gradually improve your food intake.

Body weight exercises:
Increase or maintain muscle mass, improve your strength and speed up your metabolism with just a towel or an exercise mat. The routine (crunches, lunges, push-ups) can be completed in 15-20 minutes. A full-body workout twice a week will tone and strengthen your body.

Monthly budget: P100-P1,000

Exercise videos:
If you can buy a DVD weekly, you probably can allot a budget for one to two exercise videos monthly. If you cannot commit to attend regular group classes, perhaps it’s more beneficial to exercise at home during your most convenient time. Benefits include improved endurance, strength, flexibility, body shape and balance. Choose exercise videos you enjoy most.

Dumbbells and exercise balls:
If you are not satisfied with using your body weight as resistance, buy a pair of dumbbells, which is less than P600, and an exercise ball you can use for exercise variety, for about P400. You can get a complete workout with these pieces of exercise equipment.

Outdoor running:
You just need to invest in a good pair of running shoes, from P2,000 to as high as P6,000. The activity can be done around villages or even outside malls. If you want to be a serious runner, join a race at least once a month. Registration fee costs P100-P500, depending on the organizers, location and event.

Monthly budget: P1,000-P2,000

Gym membership:
Choose cheaper gym memberships available around your area if your purpose is just to complete your weight training and use cardio machines such as the treadmill and stationary bike. Usually, such places do not offer group exercise classes, but there are available fitness trainers to guide and design an exercise program for you.

Dance and aerobics classes:
If you are motivated to do exercises in a group setup, at work or at home, hire a dance or group fitness instructor and share the expense with your group. Freelance instructors charge P500 to as high as P2,000, depending on their experience, qualifications and skills. Even if you do the classes thrice a week, you will not spend more than P2,000—even less if you can recruit more participants.

You can rent a badminton court for as low as P250 per hour. If you do it two to three times a week, lower the cost by sharing the rental fee with your friends. Racquet sports can help you burn 300-500 calories per hour, and the best thing about it is you get a lot of enjoyment while doing it with your friends, which ensures long-term exercise commitment.

Monthly budget: P2,000-P5,000

A complete health club membership:
Health clubs charge more since they present state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, provide trained and qualified fitness professionals and offer all types of group exercise classes daily, from morning to evening. If you want to experience and learn everything about exercise, a health club is the place for you. You can request free trials forking over your money for membership.

Boxing and fitness martial arts studios:
Boxing studios with professional boxers will really give you the burn and the sweat you’re looking for. These boxers charge less than a trainer, and the membership fee is cheaper than a health club. For not more than P5,000 a month, you can use the studio’s boxing facilities and have a trainer at the same time.

Monthly budget: P5,000-P10,000+

Personal training:
Do you really need a personal trainer? Yes, if you have no idea about proper exercise execution and find it hard to commit to exercise by doing it on your own. The average rate of personal trainers is P800 per hour. If you do it twice a week, you can spend almost P7,000 (or more) a month for the trainer’s fee and an additional P3,000 if you pay monthly gym membership dues.

Yoga and Pilates:
If you’re bored by this time doing exercises in a gym environment and you want to try something different, work on your core, improve your flexibility, and relieve yourself from stress so you continue to adhere to an active lifestyle, you can try yoga and Pilates. Save more if you do the sessions in a class setup. One-on-one sessions with certified teachers can cost you an average of P1,200 per hour.

Combination of various fitness activities:
There are exercisers willing to spend more than P10,000 a month trying different types of exercises and hiring the services of fitness trainers and sports coaches. Exercise has been a part of their daily routine, and they can picture themselves doing it as long as they can lift weights and run on a treadmill.


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