June 19, 2012

Frugal Fitness and a Love of Midtown

While my apartment certainly isn't perfect, it seems like I find new reasons to love my neighborhood more and more every day.  My building is old, charming, and filled to the brim with interesting people.  My landlord might be a little slow to get maintenance done, but he treats his tenants fairly, and takes a personal recommendation over a credit score any day.  My place is cheap.  I mean, $550 for a two bedroom apartment with two dogs, and no additional pet rent.  Unheard of, right?  I'm within walking distance of a corner store, several restaurants, a lovely park, and a booming retail development.  My neighbors consist of college students, 20-somethings, low to medium income families, oddballs, hipsters, old money millionaires, those looking to avoid keeping up with the Joneses, and people starting over.  I couldn't feel like I should live in a better part of town. This week, I discovered another reason to be happy to have picked up and moved east; my local community center.

It's summer, and I'm a round girl.  I sit in a chair for 8 hours a day, come home, and sit on a couch for an additional few hours.  Or, I go out with friends, and I sit around in a group.  Sit sit sit.  I live most of my life on my ass.  After waking up in pain and grimacing in the mirror at the muffin-top spilling over my jeans one too many times, I decided I needed to examine my options.  There's a health club quite literally within walking distance from my apartment.  I know, I've seen people trotting along on the treadmills as I'm driving home from work.  When I looked into membership costs, I saw it was about $40 a month.  Now, that's not terrible.  I think the YMCA downtown is in the same ballpark, and the gym I was a member of previously when I had that dipshit personal trainer was upwards of $65.  These days though, I'm not exactly flush with cash, so I don't have that to spend.  Blue Moon fitness is only $10 a month, but if I didn't go when I was about a mile away, I'm certainly not going to go when it's 10 miles between here and there.  Plus, unless I'm signed up for a class, I'm really good at putting off going till "later".

The idea of a class got me thinking.  I have a friend of mine who was doing Zumba at one of the city recreation centers.  So, it got me curious about what's even offered at the one by me.  Google to the rescue!  In looking through the website, I was amazed at my options.  There was pilates and yoga.  Both of which would be good for my back and hips, but not so good on my bank account.  An 8 week class for either was almost $90.  While that's not too shabby, I was shopping my options.  In the end, the Tai Chi, as well as the woman's weight lifting class worked for both my schedule and my wallet.  Between the two of then, I could get off the couch 3 nights a week and spend less than the cost of a gym membership for the pleasure.  Sure, it's not aerobic, but at this point, I'm not ready for that.  I didn't spend 2 years in physical therapy just to reinjure myself because I got cocky.  I know my limits.  With that in mind, I can make the most of my time and my money.

Monday was my first Tai Chi class.  It was taught by an older lady who'd been teaching for 15-20 years.  My friend and I rounded out the attendance at 4, so it was semi-private.  To me, my motivation to keep going was the 94 year old woman with greater flexibility than I had.  If she can go, I'm not going to let a measly 60 years difference keep me on the couch.

Tuesday was the first night of weight lifting.  Between my friend and me, we were all there was to a class, and that was fantastic.  Keith, the staff member in charge of the weight room asked us what we were looking to get out of weight lifting, if we had any questions or concerns, and if we wanted to start that night.  He was able to taylor some advice for each of us, showed us the right way to use all the machines, and gave us an idea of what a good circuit for each of us would be.  Something I didn't know, and wasn't mentioned on the flier or website was that they had a few cardio machines.  Now and again, if my back and hips are acting up, some long strides on a treadmill helps loosen them up.  Good to know there's a hidden gem I can use just down the street.

Keith, the trainer guy, also mentioned that if we just bought the punch card for weight room visits, we'd actually save about $10 over the class.  If you break that down, I'm actually getting more exercise for less money than a gym membership at this point.  And, if I need to go up there and use a machine just for a night, it's only a $3 drop in fee.  I can live with this.

Now, you might be wondering, is it as nice as a health club?  Well, no.  There aren't TVs in the treadmills and ellipticals, and  I don't think you'd want to eat dinner off of any of the weight machines.  But, they're not sad, or held together with duct tape either.  The local Hilton upgraded their gym recently, and either gave or sold their equipment to the city.  The machines we used were indistinguishable from new.  On top of that, the most people that were in the weight area at one time was 5, so there wasn't really a wait for a machine.

There are some downsides.  I mean, they don't have a proper locker room or a place to keep a purse.  But, if you know that going in, you can adapt.  Bring a towel, leave your purse at home, and show up in your yoga pants already.  It's not the end of the world if you don't take yourself too seriously.  Plus, it saves you the money on a padlock for a locker.

My point of all this is that, not only have I found a way to do right by my body, I'm in love with the fact that my neighborhood supports my efforts to change my sedentary and un-frugal ways.  My little ghetto 'hood is good for me from stem to stern.  It's just in knowing how to look for it, being willing to use what's available, and stop taking yourself so god-damned seriously.

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