Recession Mama

{June 27, 2009}   Work Out for Less

By: Heather w/ guest post from Kevin Kelley

Mamas and Papas,

In an effort to keep my already brittle bones from turning to dust, I’ve been working out.


I have arthritis and osteopenia (the phase before osteoporosis), so I have to really work on keeping healthy and strong. I’m using a personal trainer, but I’m saving money by doing so.  He comes to my house and we use my home equipment. I only do 30 minute sessions three times a week. This is perfect for my short attention span and whimpiness. I can get the weights and cardio finished in about an hour. 

I’m feeling better already! My 36-year-old bones, that act like 70-year-old bones, will soon be thanking me too. Hopefully it’ll put a stop to my slumping and whining about the pain in my spine and hips.

My trainer, Kevin Kelley, has some great tips on how to workout for LESS! You don’t need expensive equipment or gym memberships to feel better. You just need a plan.

Check out his advice below.

$$$ Cash Friendly Home Workout Tips $$$:


  1. SMART INVESTMENT!  Make the initial investment.  Get a few cornerstone items that will never go out of style: an adjustable bench (flat/incline/decline), a set of inexpensive dumbbells, a nice exercise mat.  While it may seem like a lot of money on the front end – these items aren’t trendy and you will be able to get a good workout with them for many years to come.

  2. SMART INVESTMENT!  Get a great book on dumbbell training:

    1. Smart Girls do Dumbbells, by Judith Sherman-Wolin $11

    2. The New Rules of Lifting for Women, by Schuler, Forsythe, & Cosgrove $11

    3. Strength Training Anatomy, by Frederich Deliaver $15

  3. MONEY SAVER!  Avoid buying gimmick machines.  The machines you see on infomercials are usually made poorly and only allow you to perform one exercise.  You’re better off with multi-purpose equipment (see 2 above).  Save your money and invest in time-tested equipment that will last.  If you have one (or several) of these machines in your house, sell them and use that money to buy the stuff recommended in #1.

  4. SMART INVESTMENT!  Hire a personal trainer ($25-$300 per session).  It may sound strange to recommend hiring a trainer in a ‘budget’ column on fitness, but 1-2 sessions with a GOOD personal trainer can provide you with a couple of great routines, tips on proper form, and help you maximize the effectiveness of your home workout.  Do your homework first on your exercises, ask around about a good trainer (B.Sc. degree in Kinesiology, Exercise Science, etc., personal training certifications, and experience), and use a trainer who isn’t intimidated by questions.  If a trainer’s response to your question is “Because I said so.”  Fire them and look for a professional.

  5. SMART INVESTMENT!  Keep a journal.  Use a little spiral notepad to track your workouts.  Keeping track of your routines, weights, repetitions, workout time, etc. can really motivate you.  You’ll be able to look back at workouts from 3,6,12 months ago and use that information to plan new workouts based on what has worked in the past.

  6. MONEY SAVER!  Drop your fitness magazine subscription(s).  Most magazines are filled with ads for weight loss products that don’t work, exercise tips that you already know, and are just another expense you don’t need.  Get one of the books recommended in #2 above and cancel the subscription(s).

  7. MONEY SAVER!  Pass on the designer workout clothes.  Most of the people who I train that are serious, consistent, long-term, successful clients don’t worry about how they look at the gym or at home.  If you really want those shorts or top then use that as a motivational goal…  “When I lose 15 lbs. I’ll buy that top.” 


How to SAVE $$$ on a Gym Membership:


  1. Most gyms inflate the ‘initiation fee’ so when they cut it down to 50% in the sales pitch the customer feels like they got a great deal.  Tell the sales person you don’t want to pay any initiation fee.  If they insist ‘everyone pays it,’ tell them ‘I don’t,’ and walk.  Next thing you know they’ll make an ‘exception in this one case.’

  2. Ask about the cancellation policy.  Most gyms make it really easy to sign up, but then when you need to cancel they require you to visit their corporate office in Istanbul… in person… with 27 forms of identification, a retina scan, your firstborn child, and a polygraph test.  If it isn’t easy to cancel, something stinks.

  3. Avoid giving your credit card number.  Once a company has your credit card on file they can charge you for anything & forever – even if you cancel your membership.  You’ll end up wasting precious time trying to contact someone to get $$$ credited back to your account.  The tremendous headache isn’t worth the ‘convenience.’  If they’re not okay with a check or cash then go to another gym.

  4. Ask about a discount for paying for a year up front.  Most gyms love the customer who pays for a year up front.  This way you have made the investment, you don’t need to give out your card number, and everyone comes out a winner.

  5. Ask about a family discount.  Most gyms make their money on the initial member, so they are willing to ‘add on’ a spouse or family member for a fraction of the individual rate.  Of course if your family member isn’t going to use the gym then you’re only throwing that money away.

 Kevin M. Kelley

Personal Trainer

If you have more questions feel free to email Kevin at

Here’s a link to the NSCA’s website where you can watch video clips of the proper exercise form.


Katy says:

Great tips, Kevin! Heather, it’s good to see you “investing” in yourself. We only have our health. I need to get a personal trainer, so I can stay motivated. In the last 3 months, I think I’ve worked out a total of 1 hour, and I can feel how my body is just so unhappy. Thanks for this post.

recessionmama says:

Katy “investing” in yourself is a good point. A person can spend a fortune in health care costs, medicine and supplements in an effort to feel better. Exercise and eating healthy are really the best medicine.
I know you don’t have much time, but Kevin says that 15 min on high capacity on the treadmill is equal to 30 min on slow. I can’t jog because of my back, so I put the treadmill on a high incline. My heart rate really shoots up, I sweat, I pant, I burn calories. I also go up and down the some really steep stairs in my house. We call them the STAIRS OF DOOM.

Lydia says:

Thanks, Kevin for the great advice. You mean you’re supposed to use your treadmill for something other than a clothes rack? 😉 Heather, you go girl! It’s hard to stay motivated when it’s 103 outside (Dallas area), but getting outside after the sun starts going down helps with that! Ok, pass me a donut, I think my blood sugar is dropping…. ha!

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