Staying Healthy without Being Wealthy

Fitness is important and can even improve your state of mind. Research indicates that regular fitness can help battle depression and malaise. On top of that, there’s the obvious benefit of physically feeling better. On the other hand, fitness has become a multimillion dollar industry where even organizations that base their philosophy on improvisation and resourcefulness charge you hundreds of bucks to teach you how to do it their way (we’re looking at you, CrossFit). Even simple, effective and comparatively cheap barbell training either takes gym memberships or the cash and square footage to buy a set yourself — resources that most college students don’t have. Here are some ways to stay fit without paying for personal trainers, nutritionists, gym memberships or worthless accessories like lifting gloves.

Fitness courses
If you don’t mind spending a credit hour or two on yoga, weight training or the like, signing up for a university fitness course allots specific time every week to work out — and obliterates excuses that creep up a bit easier when we’re trying to self-motivate. But, if you’ve got a full course schedule, there’s more: prison workouts — nothing wrong with a few push-ups. Crunches, body squats, wall-sits, planks, and all variations thereof can be done with a little space, require no equipment, and really do work. Bonus points for incorporating a few sets of homemade tattoo-carving into your routine.

The “why not both?” philosophy
Setting aside fitness for academics is a noble cause, but finding a way to do both is a creative exercise. Pick a workout to do while you’re going through flash cards — pull-ups, crunches, etc. — and do a few reps every time you miss one. Do some planks while reading a book on the floor. Record your lectures and listen to them later as you’re in the gym instead of a playlist.

Yep, good old running. Eschew your car (if you have one) for shorter trips and start jogging from place to place, or walking if you’re meeting people who frown on sweatiness. I’m not telling you to show up to your next job interview in athletic gear, but it’s not a bad idea to earn that trip to Burger Boy.

Cheap equipment
Legend has it that around the turn of the century some Swiss guy had the genius idea to get jacked by just stretching some big-ass rubber bands. Nowadays, the fitness industry has coiled its greedy tendrils around exercise bands, but don’t be fooled: a $40 stackable 11-piece set of bands with interchangeable handles and anchors is no better than the $8 piece of rubber it claims to improve on. Exercise bands are cheap and extremely portable. If your budget is a little roomier, simple black-iron kettlebells and dumbbells are also pretty inexpensive, small and will last forever.

Playgrounds and parks
Every public playground has trails or sidewalks for jogging, bars for chin-ups and pull-ups, swings that can function as ab rollers, benches in place of plyometric boxes that can be used for jumping exercises, dips, push-ups … you get the idea. If you’re up for a bigger challenge, go trail running in the park. Merge with nature and do upright rows on low-hanging tree branches. It wouldn’t be right to encourage you in print to use slippery, jagged rocks as plyometric platforms, but it’s certainly a worthy challenge. Keep in mind, if you’re itching to do some elevated pushups, and some family is using a bench for sitting, don’t hover around.

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