How to Get Fit on a Tight Budget

Exercise tends to take a back seat this time of year, understandably, for reasons we all share. For starters, it’s chilly, it’s dark and, well, I’m wearing heavy woolly clothes, and there’s so much yummy food this time of year! Plus, budgets are tight (we have gifts to buy!), and we can wait on new fitness gear, workout DVDs or gym memberships. If you’re having trouble getting motivated to work out consistently, there’s a new fitness trend that may help get you pumped up and won’t break the bank: small-group training. “It’s economical, for one thing, but the social aspect is what gets women hooked,” says Peg Pardini, a personal trainer in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Think of it as an interactive coffee date. You can vent and swap stories while getting a supereffective workout.

Fun, right? Here’s how it works: A group of 10 or fewer (too many people gets unwieldy) hires an expert and meets at the park or your home. The pro maps out a circuit routine with 6 to 12 move stations. Each person cycles through one of the exercises for 30 seconds or more, rotating to the next when the trainer calls time. All fitness levels are welcome, but working out with a stronger partner propels you to dig deep, a study from Michigan State University reports. As for price, it depends on the size of the group, but a fit club can run you as little as $12 a person per session, compared with $60 or more for one-on-one training, Pardini says. To nab a pro, search sites (such as that guarantee certified trainers, she suggests.

Want to give small-group training a go before you bring in a trainer? We’ve got you covered: Steal our do-anywhere DIY routine, and try it with your friends today, totally free. Gather your gals and get started!

You’ll need: A pair of 5- to 8-pound dumbbells, a few fit-minded friends and a stopwatch

What to do: Arrange six stations. Begin as a team with a five-minute warm-up. Jog, do jumping jacks—anything to get your heart pumping. Then split up at different stations. Do the indicated exercise, moving to the next after 30 seconds; have one teammate man the clock. Complete each of the six stations a total of three times and you’re done. High-fiving is highly encouraged!

heel click

Works: abs, butt, thighs
Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms down. Bend knees and jump as high as you can, clicking heels together (as shown). Land in start position, knees soft. Repeat for 30 seconds.

in and outWorks: butt, thighs
Start in a deep plie squat, toes turned out. Lower left knee to ground (as shown), then right knee, coming into a kneeling position. Reverse to return to a pliÄ squat. Continue for 30 seconds.


crab grab

Works: shoulders, triceps, back, abs, obliques, butt, thighs
Start in tabletop: facing up, hands under shoulders, fingers forward, hips lifted with knees bent. Hold pose as you extend right leg and reach left arm to meet right foot (as shown). Return to tabletop. Repeat with opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating sides for 30 seconds.


ab throwdown

Works: abs, shoulders, triceps, hips
Lie faceup with feet lifted, knees bent 90 degrees, a weight in each hand, arms extended toward sky, palms facing in, head lifted (as shown). Lower head to ground and bend elbows, bringing weights to ears as you extend legs at a 45-degree angle. Return to start. Repeat for 30 seconds.


cat dog

Works: back
Start on all fours, knees under hips, hands under shoulders, a weight in each hand. Drop chin to chest, tucking pelvis under and rounding back like a cat. Lift chin, arching back, then draw weight in right hand to rib cage (as shown). Return to start. Repeat on opposite side. Continue alternating sides for 30 seconds.


balancing act

Works: shoulders, arms, abs, butt, thighs
Stand on left leg and raise right leg, knee bent and thigh parallel to ground. Hold a weight in each hand, elbows bent and raised to chest level, palms in. Balance, then stack forearms in front of chest, right on top (as shown). Return to start. Repeat on opposite leg, reversing position of arms. Continue alternating sides for 30 seconds.

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