AFTER WATCHING Extreme Cheapskates on Netflix, I'm determined to become a skinflint exerciser. No expensive hiphop/ballet/paintball parkour classes will hold sway over me! From now on, I shall combine the frugality of washing out used Ziploc bags with squats at the kitchen sink; between sit-ups, I'll cut up band T-shirts for reusable toilet paper; I'll make my cats eat their puke, all while doing bicep curls.
Ugh, actually that sounds exhausting. There must be another way to get strong arms on the cheap. So I turned to ever-cheerful trainer Natalie Lozano of Mount Tabor Runner's Boot Camp for advice. The New York City transplant's enjoyable (and tough) boot camps have well-planned training regimens that emphasize getting outdoors into Portland's abundant parks to use the natural surroundings for intense cardio and strength-training workouts. Depending on the focus of the workout, Lozano has participants bring a yoga mat, a resistance band ("it's super light, and you can get a full body workout from it"), and some handheld weights. Hell, you don't even need that stuff, really. Your own body weight will get you strong, right quick.
So, what's her advice for penny-pinching DIYers? First, "Get a buddy to work out with. It's motivating." Okay, push-up pal, check. But what do we do? "First, set a goal. It could be a race, weight loss, or climbing a mountain. And work out in the morning—people are more successful about working out when they do it in the morning. You have to do this every single week, three to five times a week. The key to routine is to make it enjoyable," she says.
Lozano recommends a simple workout to get started (see below). It's just a start, but it gives you a dozen places to jump off and add variety. She also has positive things to say about workout apps—it's like a little drill sergeant on your phone. Her free strength-training equipment includes playground swings, monkey bars, and trails at Mount Tabor and the West Hills. Cardio's easy, she says: "Steps!" But the exercise that really floats her boat... "Any exercise is good exercise, it's all cumulative. But burpees are the best. Arms, legs, core... 10 of these will do the trick!" Let me translate that real quick. Sets of 10 burpees, 'til you're burpin' exhausted. "But it's important to have variety so your body doesn't plateau," she continues. "You gotta do more than yoga, Portland!"
Lozano has lots more advice (she's a font of fitness), but the gist is that you can sneak in exercise throughout the day, in the park, in the office, wherever... FOR FREE! The next thing you know, BAM!, you're toning up places you thought were tone deaf, all without having to resort to couponing while crunching.
Natalie Lozano is a certified trainer who runs Mount Tabor Runner's Boot Camp, taborbootcamp.com.
Natalie Lozano's Simple Park Workout
This workout is a starting point for someone with minimal equipment. Combines cardio with strength-training moves using body weight. You just need a park bench:
Warm-up jog, plus stretching for five-10 minutes.
Repeat entire circuit below three times through, with minimal rest in between:
10 push-ups with hands on a park bench seat. If you're a push-up pro, put your feet on the bench seat and hands on the ground.
15 squats. Make it harder by jumping as you rise up.
15 tricep dips with hands on the bench seat.
20 step-ups onto the bench seat (step up, step down, alternating 10 per leg).
20 plank shoulder taps. From push-up position, tap your hand to your opposite shoulder, keeping your body from rocking. Switch hands and repeat.
20 jumping jacks
Cool down with another 10 minutes of easy jogging, followed by stretching.