Actually turn off your phone (silent and airplane mode don’t count)
Emails, texts, and calls are guaranteed exercise destroyers. You may not want to admit it, but you’re as bad as Pavlov’s dog; when your phone dings, you’re conditioned to respond. The world won’t crumble and the apocalypse won’t commence simply because you shut your phone off for half an hour. Turn it off and exercise distraction-free -- you might even discover you like feeling untethered from the almighty smartphone.
MacGyver your weight sessions
Don’t assume you need a whole new workout wardrobe, fancy kicks, or the next “As Seen on TV” ab trimmer to get in the best shape of your life. These are lies fitness marketers sell with a price tag adding up to more than a billion dollars a year.
All you need is your body and a few household items: a sturdy chair, a few paper plates, and maybe a small dog or baby. I’m not kidding; babies and dogs make great substitutes for medicine balls as long, provided you don’t throw them.
Perform bodyweight exercises like squats, pushups, burpees, and jumping jacks in a circuit. Add step ups on a sturdy chair, sliding lunges, or reverse crunches with your feet on paper plates, and pretty much any exercise while holding a baby or a dog (shoulder press, chest press, plié squats, and biceps curls). The added weight (and squirmy nature of living creatures) will enhance your strength, balance, and coordination.
Make a plan, and stick to it
Whether you work out at a gym or at home, following a plan is one of the best ways to guarantee success. Look online for free bodyweight workouts or those that require minimal equipment. Search for 4-week, 8-week, or 12-week plans put together by certified trainers that gradually build intensity and make it possible to gauge results. In some cases you may have to subscribe to an email list to receive the lengthier programs, but it’s a small price to pay (as in, zero dollars and possibly some great emails) to receive a high-quality program put together by a legit trainer.
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Laura Williams is an exercise physiologist and writer who pays surprisingly little to stay in shape. Learn all her frugal tips on Twitter @girlsgonesporty.