Fit for Free

Denise Trowbridge
Denise Trowbridge

We're the 32 percenters - that portion of Americans who, in January, pinkie-swear that they will get their financial houses in order, and lose all of that Christmas-cookie weight. About one-third of Americans make New Year's resolutions, and two of the most popular are losing weight and spending less/saving more money, according to Omnibus Research.

I'm here to tell you to step away from the glossy inserts in the Sunday paper - yes, exercise equipment goes on sale in January - and ignore those flashy "new member discount" signs outside the local gym, and cash in on your new-found resolve.

You can get fit for free, or close to it, while knocking two resolutions off your list: getting fitter and spending less. There are two strategies - first, by using cheap and free resources at home and, second, by scouting out cheap and free fitness resources in the community.

If, like me, the idea of dragging two crabby preschoolers to the gym's daycare in mid-afternoon seems as realistic as actually touching the peak of Mount Everest, opt for the home-fitness options.

Don't discount the value of workout DVDs. They're a lifesaver for busy, exhausted moms. I've started many days with a yoga DVD in the basement while the kids are eating breakfast. The big problem is video boredom. Don't go broke buying videos (unless you find Buns of Steel at the thrift store. Totally worth it.). My new thing is reserving new workout videos from the local library. I have a revolving selection of new, novel workouts for free.

Get more out of your cable subscription by DVRing workout shows. Discovery Fit & Health is home to plenty of total body sculpt workouts, and once even convinced me that a belly dancing workout would be a great idea. Thank goodness I was at home alone for that one.

There are plenty of free workouts online. Check Pinterest and YouTube for links to new and interesting workouts (search for 10-minute interval workouts if, like me, you have to squeeze fitness in between work and parenting), or head on over to Even though it's decidedly masculine in flavor, it has links to free videos for intense workouts that don't require any special equipment, and has recipes for frugal healthy meals.

If you prefer to actually leave the house to work out, you don't necessarily need to spend money on a membership or class fee.

For instance, check out the Lululemon store at Easton and Polaris. They're not just a purveyor of fancy pants. They also offer free yoga and fitness classes such as Pure Barre on weekends. Whole Foods in Dublin has free weekday-morning Zumba classes.

The Metro Parks have free themed winter hikes and summer hikes. UnitedHealthcare and Ohio Fit Club offered free fitness classes such as kickboxing, CrossFit and yoga at the Columbus Commons.

If you already have a gym membership, are you taking maximum advantage of it? Does your gym offer free childcare? Take a good hard look at what your gym offers, and how much you use it. Maybe you can figure a way to work out more with something you already have.

? Denise Trowbridge is a self-professed money geek who writes about personal finance, banking and insurance for The Columbus Dispatch, and