Creating a home fitness center is the latest do-it-yourself project around my home. With a mix of creativity and technology, the goal is to stretch muscles without overextending the home budget. Here's my blueprint:
Radio aerobics: Attending an aerobics class at a gym can be a challenge when time and money are in short supply. But the humble radio is a solution. With fast-paced music stations, a full-length mirror, a clock and a pair of sneakers, I've recreated some of my favorite moments from fee-based, cardio-dance classes. Basically, I dance, jump and hop around to the beat of my favorite stations. During a 30-minute, dance-at-home session, the radio provides music for my inventive cardio routines, and the commercial interruptions serve as stretching breaks between songs. I use a mirror to monitor my posture and a clock to time my workout.
Mastering stairs: In addition to purchasing second-hand fitness equipment, there are a range of frugal options for working out at home. At Target, for example, I recently found a step work-out system for $60 and a mini step-counting, electrical stair machine for $70. Both products are compact and easily stored. My frugal children, however, suggested that I just run up and down the stairs (10 flights) in our apartment building for free. I could also use the stairs at malls, office buildings and public walkways.
Jump ropes: Dollar stores and sporting goods stores sell a variety of jump ropes at affordable prices. There's even a website -- www.jumprope.com -- with facts, videos and tips about jumping rope. Wikihow.com -- an online manual of how-to tips and articles -- offers a free guide for jumping rope, with a video.
TV, video and online programs: My friend Claudia Vigil-Perez of Miami gets in shape by tuning into a fitness channel offered by a cable provider. Likewise, using our home computer, my teenage son has worked out along with a video posted on YouTube.com by a personal trainer. Public libraries, video stores and secondhand book stores also have broad workout videos in different genres.
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