Fitness Should Be Free

urban hiking uk style

Last week, I shared one of our favorite ways to save money and get some exercise. Urban hiking may be a great mode of transportation, but it’s pretty one dimensional in terms of a workout. I guess one would occasionally need to add a bit of variety to one’s exercise regime. I mean, if you have to. What you definitely shouldn’t do is spend money to work out.

I don’t get gyms. Unless you want to lift heavy weights, I can’t think of any other reason to set foot in one. It’s definitely not worth the money, as far as I’m concerned. Pretty much any kind of workout I would want to do can be done in my living room or at the park for free.

Jillian Michaels Yoga

YouTube is your new best friend when it comes to working out for free. They’ve recently started allowing much longer videos on their site so you can get tons of 30-minute workout videos without leaving your house. I use the YouTube app on our PS3 to play yoga, pilates, and Zumba videos on my TV while my husband laughs at what a total loser I am. Or you can piece together shorter clips to break the monotony.

Harry Potter Workout

Pinterest also has a health and fitness category with tons of links to workouts you can do at home. They can get pretty ridiculous, but there are also fun surprises like this Harry Potter workout. How awesome is that? 


If you want to add a little resistance to your life, I recommend thera-bands. They’re basically long strips of stretchy latex. They’re great because they can be lengthened or shortened to vary the resistance, they can be tied or looped around just about anything to get the right angle, and they fold up nice and small and take up practically no space in your already tiny and crowded home. I grew up using these as a dancer, and I promise they’re so much better than those silly tubes or bulky weights.


I know I need to get in better shape, but I’d much rather spend my money on cheese and chocolate. I am not a health expert, and you should definitely not quote me as an authority on anything. Except I do have that dance degree in an envelope somewhere, so I guess I do know a couple of things about how the body works. The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body and know the difference between good pain and bad pain. Bad pain isn’t worth it.


Working out is not the awesomest, but if you have to do it, have as much fun as possible. Laugh at yourself as much as you can. Then go have a cookie.

Urban Hiking

Geoff and Gandhi
Gandhi says, “Take a walk.”

Recently I had a reader request a post on how to stay fit on $20 a day. I am the last person you’d want to ask about being healthy and working out. Exercise sounds like profanity to my ears. I only run if I’m being chased by a bear. And there is absolutely no way you’d find me anywhere near a gym. What a rip off.

You can't get this view from a gym.
You can’t get this view from a gym.

I used to be a dancer, so staying thin (and I mean really thin) was easy. I was much younger then and danced six hours a day. I could eat Cheetos every day for lunch, and it didn’t matter. But thirteen years and 25 pounds later, I find myself having to force my body into movement more often than I’d like, but dance classes can be expensive. I have a few tricks for working out on the cheap, and what we like to call urban hiking is our most used trick for burning a few calories.

Our favorite rest spot, and a great place for whale watching in the winter.
Our favorite rest spot, and a great place for whale watching in the winter.

Urban hiking is code for walking around town, but it makes it sound more like an adventure to my daughter. That’s how we trick her into walking to the movie theatre. Sometimes it’s hot and sweaty and exhausting, and I think I hate it. I get blisters or a sunburn, and I’m always exhausted when I get home. But there are a few things I love about walking instead of driving.

  1. You are forced to talk to the person you’re walking with. There’s no radio to distract you, no traffic to concentrate on. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been on a walk.
  2. You burn way more calories than you would sitting on the couch. It’s perhaps not the most efficient workout, but if you go the long way around a crater to get to California Pizza Kitchen, you’ll burn enough calories to be able to have a glass of wine and dessert. 
  3. You get to see your city in detail. There are so many beautiful or intriguing moments that just blur past you from a car. Take a walk and stop to notice your own world. It’s breathtaking.
You'd never see this from your car.
You’d never see this from your car.

Saturday night we walked 3 miles to get to a restaurant and then walked back home again. It was like the calories were already negated. On the weekends, it’s pretty much our only mode of transportation. We even wear flip flops. No need to buy expensive shoes. 

Surprises around every corner
Surprises around every corner

Walking is free, and it’s good for your body, your mind, and your soul. The next time you need to go somewhere that’s only a couple of miles away, put away your car keys, put on your hat, and head out the door. You can even imagine you’re a hobbit if it makes you feel better. 

Don't forget to stay hydrated.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated.
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