How to stay fit and save money during the holidays: insider tips from a personal trainer

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Most everyone who reads this blog knows we need to stay healthy and fit more than ever in these tight economic times.  It helps us cope with stress, and who needs more medical bills by getting down and sick?

Stacy Berman, a fitness trainer who has written for JHMFD, sent me some “frugal fitness tips.”  We like Stacy and thought we would share.  See her bio at the end of the tips.

In the past, we’ve featured ways to eat healthy while saving money (here and here), but she offers some new tips on fitness.  I wondered what you’d think.  Here are the tips.

1. Train in groups.

Instead of one-on-one personal training, go for a group discount. “Many trainers will accept a larger group of people for a lower individual rate,” says Stacy. “It’s a great way to reduce spending on fitness but keep the motivation factor there.”

2. Save on sides.

“Often, the cheapest cuts of meat are also the cuts with the highest fat content. You may be saving a dollar or two, but it could add up your calorie content higher than it used to be,” says Stacy. Instead, choose moderately priced lean cuts and save money on side dishes. Stacy recommends whole-grain, fiber-rich foods like rice and beans.

3. Use what you’ve got.

The world is your playground – literally! “You don’t always need fancy gym equipment to get into great shape,” says Stacy. “Just a set of dumbbells and a chair can get you to your fitness goals without breaking the bank.” Take advantage of calorie burning activities like raking leaves, building snowmen and ice skating, she suggests.

4. Cut your produce.

The place where money is wasted the most is in the pre-packaged food aisles, says Stacy. “Spending extra money on things like pre-washed and pre-cut lettuce, for example, is a huge money pit,” says Stacy. “Buying whole foods and preparing them yourself will not only cut back on costs but it will ensure you are not eating extra preservatives or additives in packaged foods.”

5: Use the “Dollar Menu” wisely.

“When choosing to eat from a fast food restaurant, it’s simple to stay on the health track,” says Stacy, “I tell my clients to avoid the words ‘crisp,’ ‘double’ and ‘big’ at all costs.” There are some great choices to be had at many restaurant chains—including Wendy’s small chili, McDonald’s salads with grilled chicken and Burger King’s Whopper Jr. without cheese.

Stacy Berman is founder of Stacy’s Boot Camp, which meets in New York City’s public parks. Participants use no more than their bodies and a few water bottles. She’s certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise.

So, did you learn anything new?  Have any of you experimented with group fitness instruction?

In our Jan/Feb print edition of JHMFD, coming out in December, we’re publishing the results of a poll we did with fitness experts. We asked them for recommendations for cheap fitness equipment as alternatives to buying that new treadmill or weight machine.  Dumbbells was the number-one pick (with two brand names particularly recommended).  See our issue for more.

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4 Responses to “How to stay fit and save money during the holidays: insider tips from a personal trainer”

  1. FatFighterTV Says:

    My husband and I just joined a new gym that offers group personal training – I think that is a great idea and am thinking about trying it. #3 is so true – we just finished a Boot Camp class and we didn’t use much equipment to get a killer workout. I think we forget there are so many options without equipment.

    FatFighterTVs last blog post..News Nugget: Fast food ad ban could cut childhood obesity

  2. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks Fatfighter,
    It’s good to have some personal experience.

  3. LisaNewton Says:

    I love the whole list, but #4 speaks volumes. Spend a little time cutting your own produce, and you’ll definitely win. Besides, to me, the pre-cut produce has a funny taste. Cutting your own is much fresher, plus it lasts longer…………….:)

  4. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Even I can cut my own produce, and to the sizes I like.
    Thanks Lisa

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