Get fit - for free

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It doesn't cost anything to be active

Excuses about lack of time or lack of energy are easy responses to the question: Are you getting enough exercise?

Hectic work schedules and family obligations are often first to be blamed by those who procrastinate about getting enough exercise. But if you're thinking about blaming the failing economy for your flabby abs, think again.

Personal trainer Meghan Callaway says park equipment can be used in many ways for a number of exercises. - Photo by Glenn Baglo/Vancouver Sun

Vancouver - Excuses about lack of time or lack of energy are easy responses to the question: Are you getting enough exercise?

Hectic work schedules and family obligations are often first to be blamed by those who procrastinate about getting enough exercise. But if you're thinking about blaming the failing economy for your flabby abs, think again.

"It's really easy to get fit without spending any money," says Meghan Callaway, of Catalyst Personal Training in Vancouver.

As a personal trainer, Callaway has likely heard every excuse under the sun for not getting adequate exercise. But not having enough money is among the weakest of them all.

"Lack of time. Lack of money. All those are bad excuses," Callaway says.

"You're no good to anyone or anything if you're not healthy and you're not fit."

Walking and running cost nothing, don't require any fancy equipment and don't require any travel to get started. Step out the front door and you're off.

But if you're looking for something with a bit more variation, a bit more intensity - and something that still doesn't cost a penny - there are plenty of options in that department, too. Cancelling your fancy gym membership doesn't give you licence to sit on the couch.

"You have fitness circuits in parks. You could use park benches to do push-ups, sit-ups," Callaway says.

"You don't even need any weights. You can do squats, lunges, a bunch of lower body, upper body. You could use milk jugs to do bicep curls, shoulder presses - pretty much anything that you do with weights, you can modify."

In the interest of injury avoidance, Callaway recommends meeting at least once with a personal trainer to learn the proper way to do park-bench push-ups, milk-jug bicep curls, and all those other free exercises.

But if jungle-gym chin-ups and hill sprints aren't your thing, don't collapse in defeat. There are free activities to suit almost any fitness level.

Many community centres have time slots when you can skate and swim for free. And many have free activities for seniors, including badminton, cycling, and carpet bowling.

Fitness circuits at city parks have instructions at each exercise station, but allow you to go at your own pace as you move along, doing stretches and strength-building exercises.

And if you're one of those people who likes to exercise with a group - whether it be a team or a pack of like-minded hikers - there are groups for nearly every activity.

Try an Internet search.

There are running groups, orienteering groups, kayaking groups, and even a group of adults who meet to play childhood games like tag and capture the flag. How's that for fun, free fitness?




Try it

Free fitness ideas
Try a fitness circuit at a park near you. Each fitness station guides you through a different stretch or exercise.
Use the playground at your local park as a gym. Monkey bars can be used for chin-ups, benches for push-ups, and you can bring big elastic bands for resistance exercises.
Check the website of your community centre for free time slots for skating, swimming and the fitness centre. Some centres offer these at quiet times during the week.
Find an activity group on Meetup.com. With hiking groups, running groups, rock climbing groups and kayaking, there's something for everybody.
Try some tai chi in the park.

Organizations: Catalyst Personal Training

Geographic location: Vancouver

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