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Five Ways to Recession-Proof Your Workouts

By Devin Wicks

These are tough times all over. We all want to economize as much as we can, but without giving up the things that make our lives feel full and keep us balanced. So, how can you adapt to the tough economic times and stay physically fit while doing it? In short—how do you recession-proof your workouts? Here are five tips to get you on the way to economic stimulation:

Work a deal with your gym: Gyms rely on you for their revenue, and as an ongoing member, you are guaranteed income for them. If you leave, they lose that monthly payment. And, as every gym manager knows, it is much less expensive to keep an existing customer than to find a new one. This gives you more leverage than you might realize. Consider sitting down with a sales manager at your gym to work out a new membership fee. By the same token, if you decide you're going to give up the posh gym for a more basic model, start by negotiating away the initiation fee. Remember, it's a lot of work to find a new client—they have to start over if you walk away. Also, some gyms will give you a deal for using EFT (electronic funds transfers) to pay your membership dues. Finally, if you are working with a personal trainer, ask if he or she will do semi-private or small group training. Your trainer may also be facing tough times, and might be willing to start up such sessions if you got a couple of people together.

Take your workout outside: There are many great outdoor fitness opportunities. In fact, outdoor training is currently one of the biggest trends in the fitness industry. However, you don’t need to spend all of that hard-earned cash on a psychotic pseudo-drill instructor with a whistle and an attitude. Check around your area for a parcourse or fitness trail. The parcourse are trails with exercise stations with a variety of fitness apparatus at intervals along the way. You have probably seen them before without knowing—they are those funny-looking exercise stations that you usually see scattered across your local park or running trail. They are a Swiss invention, imported to the US in the 1970s and built in many public parks. Often they have some great exercises, and because you can run from station to station, you can get a complete (and very effective) workout in one shot.

Go without the bells and whistles Often we buy products with features we never use. Take, for example, a heart rate monitor. While the current high-end model will do almost everything for you, including uploading your workouts onto your computer and telling you your altitude, most people only ever use the most basic function—the real-time heart rate. Start looking around at your gym equipment and you will find that you can apply this principle in many areas. Do you really need the latest microfiber, sweat-wicking shirt to train in when a t-shirt works just as well? How about shoes—if you're not so picky about colors and having the latest styles, you can potentially save a lot of money on your gym shoes without sacrificing comfort. And finally, please don't buy bottled water at the gym. It helps both your wallet and the environment to fill a single bottle repeatedly with water from the tap.

Bring your workout home: With a little research and a small investment, you can create your own home gym that will pay off big-time over the long run. With a pair of adjustable dumbbells, a bench, a set of exercise tubes, and a little creativity you can create a home gym that will rival any workout facility in terms of versatility and convenience. From there it's just a matter of finding a workout program or a bootcamp—and we all know where you can look for those! (Hint:

Expand your horizons: The more you get into a sport, the more you end up spending big bucks to buy the latest gizmo or to train at the best facility. While those are great ways to keep you excited about your pursuits and working towards improvement, consider how simplifying your routine can give you some great cross-training benefits and save you some dough in the process. Heading outside for a run makes for a great supplemental workout that is excellent training for any sport and it’s relatively inexpensive.

The key here is to get creative, and not be afraid to make changes. You'll have your own economy stimulated in no time.

About Devin Wicks: Devin Wicks (ACSM-HFI, USAW Club Coach) is creator of the RealJock Strength Foundation 12-Week Workout program and the fitness operations director at the University of California, Berkeley, where he acts as specialty strength coach for some of the university's premier sports teams, and is coordinating a pioneering new campus employee wellness program.