Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Life and Times of an Athlete on a Budget

Oh December. Nothing like holiday travel, parties to host, shopping, and year-end sales to make you think about money. I recently got a better handle on my budget by working with a personal financial planner at LearnVest. I felt kind of like an idiot for waiting so long to find a financial planner. Strangely, I'm really excited about everything we talked about. As I expected, I'm better off than many people who made a lot of poor financial decisions....and I could also BE a lot better. Talk about new years resolutions...

A little backstory... I didn't sign up for Ironman Florida this year because it was just too expensive (and there are too many variables in my life for 2014 to be sure that I could train appropriately) and because of my ankle issues. When Jeff looked at my spending, he said I needed to cut back on extras. You know, dinner out or "wow, x person would love that! I'll buy it!" but, when we started tallying up other areas of my life for discretionary spending, we realized that my fitness budget is outrageous.

I offered up a challenge he could "task" me with - cut out the majority of my fitness spending. No gym membership, no box membership, no regular active release therapy, no regular yoga...nothing, if it didn't fit into my weekly "discretionary spending" - which brings me to about $80 a month. I'm not including the cost of my coach in this $80, so keep that in mind - my coaching budget was something I was unwilling to budge on. I was willing to cut our cable to make that happen.

I figured that there are certainly ways to do most of my training without paying for it. This makes *me* accountable for stretching, for pacing, for pushing myself, instead of relying on something or someone else.

Here is how I intend to do it.

1) Running. This is free. Get off the treadmill and go outside.

2) Biking. With a bike (derp), this is also free. As it gets colder, instead of opting for the spin bikes at my former gym, I'll use my trainer, even if it is a demon piece of crap. If any millionaires trainer making companies out there would like to sponsor me, I will sing the praises of your bike trainer product if you give me one. I'm looking at you CycleOps. I'll shill for a product I want/need/use.

3) Swimming. Thankfully, DC has indoor, free to residents pools. Time to fall in love with my swim cap hair again.

4) Body weight exercises. I want to pick up heavy things. I want to be encouraged by my coaches. I want to be with other people who almost kind of like burpees. But I can't afford the $190/month. I just can't. At best, I can afford a drop in class here and there. For now, I'll use my trainer brain and do body exercises. I am always interested in these "30 day challenge" workouts. So, to structure my workouts, I'll be using these:
Last night, I ripped out this:
10 rounds of:
- 30 second planks
- 20 sit ups (I wound up doing variations to keep from going insane)
- 10 leg lifts
- 5 pushups (low because my shoulder is still unhappy)
- 10 lunges on either side
- 15 squats

That totals to:
- 5 minutes of planks
- 200 sit ups or variations
- 100 leg lifts
- 50 push ups
- 100 lunges on either side
- 150 squats

Honestly...not a bad workout and my cats were excited to try and screw up my workout whenever possible.

5) Yoga. Because my ankle seems to do a lot better with yoga, this is where the majority of my budget will likely go. I am going to go once a week and then practice on my own at home and really invest my time with my foam roller, the stick, and active stretching band. 

We'll see how this goes and if I can actually work out as well as I did before without a strong budget for the gym.

Anyone else scaling back on fitness expenses while ramping up on workouts? I need your tips. 


  1. If you want to increase your strength training options, you could probably find some cheap equipment on craigslist - medicine balls, bands, etc. Or just get groupons for various gyms and then ditch yoga.

    (Or do yoga via youtube)

  2. good call - I don't have a ton of space, but bands and medicine balls could tuck behind the futon nicely.

    I have a 10 pass right now for yoga that I bought a few months back. I reactivated that...I figured, I'll do it once a week and repeat the combos at home with help from youtube.

  3. You can also listen to yoga podcasts online (try yoga to the people, dave farmar). I second the equipment suggestions too. I just got some therabands for PT exercises and they take up no space. Tons of stuff you can do with them.