YOU Magazine - March 2009 - Fitness on a Budget Staying in Shape During Tough Times
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Lyn Bankowski     Lyn Bankowski
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Alaska USA Mortgage Company
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Fitness on a Budget
Staying in Shape During Tough Times

Fitness on a Budget - Staying in Shape During Tough Times

Just because money is tight doesn't mean we can afford to let ourselves go. They may sound like harsh words, but the truth for many of us is that with tougher times comes a propensity to abandon our workouts and eating regimen. This is exactly why we enlisted the help of a leading fitness expert to get us back on track.

The Problem
When finances become a question mark it is a natural reaction to cut fat from the budget. The problem then lies with what to cut. Unfortunately, the sacrifices many of us choose can negatively affect our health and wellbeing. It's not unusual to cancel a gym membership, or to make food choices based on cost rather than healthfulness.

In an effort to show you that it doesn't have to be this way, we brought back celebrity fitness expert and licensed professional trainer, Juliet Kaska. According to Kaska, "Tough times are the perfect time to refocus on fitness." As you'll see, the following sit-down with Kaska is part of her attempt to set the record straight.

The Solution
Kaska began by stating that many gyms will allow you to put a temporary freeze on your membership. For anyone with budget issues, she recommends this approach rather than giving up the membership altogether. As an alternative to a gym, Kaska suggests looking into some of the free programs offered in your area. Community centers, bulletin boards at local colleges, and the free publications offered at holistic and health food stores are great places to start your search.

Take it Outdoors
Ms. Kaska reminded us that warmer weather is right around the corner, and it will provide us the opportunity for outdoor workouts, many of which cost nothing. Hiking is one of Kaska's favorite outdoor activities. She suggests finding a hiking trail with various inclines to create resistance and raise the heartbeat. Kaska also urges us to find a hiking partner, both for safety and motivation.

For anyone who enjoyed running on the treadmill at the gym, and wants to avoid the high impact of running on the street, Kaska has one word – sand. The beach would be the natural choice, but she pointed out that sand can also be found at parks, as well as at manmade lakes.

 "Go for a jog in the sand," says Kaska. It might be a lower impact alternative to jogging on the sidewalk, but according to the expert it is also a much tougher workout, and can be accomplished in less time than your normal run.

For the advanced exerciser, she recommends finding a grass hill. Run wind sprints up the hill and then jog down. The number of repetitions is completely up to you.

One of the best outdoor exercises in Kaska's opinion is swimming. This, of course is predicated on having access to a pool. While an ocean swim is an option, Ms. Kaska recommends avoiding it unless you are a very strong swimmer and can do it along with a workout partner. "Because it is so low impact, swimming is perfect for people with injuries, skeletal issues, and even the elderly," adds Kaska.

At Home Workouts
The next option in terms of a location to hold your workout would be inside your very own home. Don't worry, no one is going to suggest that you run out and buy an expensive piece of gym equipment. In fact, according to Kaska, you don't really need to buy anything to get a good workout at home.

One of Kaska's favorite at-home routines is something she refers to as the "Prison Cell Workout", named for its ability to be conducted in a very small space.

The Prison Cell Workout
Kaska recommends doing this workout 6 days a week, and preferably in the morning. Exercises are done consecutively with no breaks in between. Repetitions are a guideline, but Kaska suggests that the best results are achieved when each exercise is performed until exhaustion. From start to finish this workout will take about 30 minutes.

1. Jumping jacks (1 minute)

2. Pushups (40)

3. Lunges (25 each leg)

4. Burpees (20)
- Start with your legs together. Squat down, place your hands on the ground and kick your legs backward until you are in the push up position and your back straight. Without pausing, jump your feet forward in between your hands and jump in the air as high as you can. Repeat.

5. Tri-ups (20 each side)
- Lie on your right side with your right arm stretched out under your head and your left palm firmly planted on the ground directly in front of your chest. Keep abs tight. Using only your left arm, push upward so that your torso, head and right arm lift off the ground. Lower yourself back down and repeat.

6. Wall squats (1-2 minutes)
- Back against the wall and hands behind your head. Slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor and slide back up. Repeat.

7. Crunches (200)

8. Oblique crunches (200 each side)

9. 1/2 Plank holds (1minute)
- This looks like the push up position, but forearms rest on the floor instead of the hands. Keep the length of your body straight and hold this position.

10. L Pose shoulder presses (20)
- Get on your hands and knees with your heels against a wall. Begin to walk your feet up the wall until your legs are straight and your feet are in line with your hips. Bend your elbows and lower your head towards the ground and push up. Repeat.

Another at-home option, Kaska says, is to break out any exercise DVDs you may have lying around. "Some are better than others," she claims. But, the bottom line for her is at least you are making attempts to move your body.

For those of us without an exercise DVD collection, Kaska says a computer and an Internet connection may be an even better option. By logging on to ExerciseTV.TV, you can view countless "mini-workout" videos featuring dozens of the country's leading fitness trainers, including Kaska herself. Simply click on the tab at the top that says "Trainers" and choose from the list of experts. Find the mini workouts that appeal to you and get at it.

We asked Kaska to recommend a few affordable, yet highly affective, pieces of workout equipment that could be purchased for the home. At the top of her list is the TRX Suspension Training System. Not available in stores, the TRX system can be purchased online at The product starts at $149.95.

According to Kaska, TRX was developed by Navy Seals and utilizes straps that are easily hung from door jams. She says it allows you to do over 500 different exercises and stretches, and it's great for all ages and fitness levels. Kaska loves this product, and even uses it herself.

If the TRX isn't in your budget, Kaska says the Gravity Bar may be a better option. It's similar to the TRX system in what it accomplishes, but instead of straps it's a bar that suspends in any doorway. This product is only $79.95 and can be purchased at

For Pilates enthusiasts, Kaska recommends the Pilatesstick. It also utilizes a doorway for its use, and for $149.99 it replaces a Pilates Reformer, (a Pilates exercise bed that can cost over $3,000.00). To purchase the Pilatesstick, log on to and type in promo code, YOU, for a $20 discount.

Diet and Nutrition
Your health and fitness is highly dependant on the foods you eat. Kaska says the tendency for a lot of folks is to abandon this notion during times of hardship. As with exercise, she feels the goal should be the opposite. The following are some of her tips for eating healthy without breaking the budget.

Make your food, as opposed to buying it. Ingredients are things you buy. The food you eat, however, should come from what you create with those ingredients. By shopping wisely, a healthy diet won't cost a lot.

Check the bargain bins first. Nearly every supermarket has a section in their produce, meat and bakery departments dedicated to the food they need to sell quickly. If you are doing any "day of" shopping be sure to hit these spots first. You will find dramatic savings on many quality ingredients.

Plant a garden. Free fruits and vegetables, along with creating an alternate form of exercise (yes, gardening is exercise), is the epitome of a win/win situation.

Organics are everywhere. While organic products can be pricey in the supermarket, stores such as Costco and Trader Joe's sell them for very reasonable prices. Don't give up the organics just seek out better deals, or wait for them to go on sale at your local market.

Think fish and poultry. Poultry and fish such as tilapia, snapper and sole are much more cost efficient than most red meats. The pest part is they are also lower in fat and cholesterol.

Make every bite count. One of the biggest enemies to our waistlines is the consumption of empty calories, or food products that contain little or no nutrition. Junk food and processed foods are notorious for this. Due to their enhanced flavors, large amounts of these products can be consumed in one sitting. On the other hand, food that is dense in nutrition has the tendency to fill you up quickly. You'll eat less, spend less, and be much healthier as a result.

Save money on water. Instead of spending money on bottled water, buy a Brita® water pitcher or a sink filter. Instead of buying sodas or expensive flavored waters, fill a pitcher with cut up fresh fruit and purified water. The calories and money you save will pay dividends.

Parting Shots
Before we parted ways, Ms. Kaska had a few words of wisdom in regards to maintaining your fitness level throughout these tough economic times. First and foremost, she says that one of the best combatants against depression is exercise. The more you exercise the better you'll fee. The better you feel will translate into a more positive outlook, which will help you stay employed, land a new job or troubleshoot any problems if they arise.

The second point that Kaska made is that staying healthy actually saves you money. She's right. Fewer doctor's visits and sick days away from work is financially positive any way you look at it.

Kaska ended our discussion with a reminder that everyone is experiencing the current crunch. This includes charities. She encourages everyone to get out there and help. The perfect solution in her eyes is to do a run or walk that benefits a charity. You raise money for a worthy organization and get yourself in great shape in the process.

Juliet Kaska is one of the country's leading fitness experts, celebrity trainers, and fitness entrepreneurs. In 2005, she opened Emerson Hall Fitness in West Hollywood, California, which quickly became one of the most sought after boutique gyms in the Los Angeles area. Recently, she has partnered with Absolution Workout Complex to create Juliet Kaska-Absolution Workout Complex, with the intention of building the "funnest place to do fitness in LA." In January 2009, she opened her newest and most exclusive location at Evo-South in downtown Los Angeles; Juliet Kaska's Zen Fitness sits 24 floors above of the city with sweeping views of the surrounding area.

To learn more about Juliet and Zen Fitness, log on to

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