Even your phone can be your friend when fighting the flab. By Susan Edmunds.
Most of us have parts of our bodies we aren't fond of. If you have thighs that could do with toning, a stomach that hasn't seen a six-pack that wasn't carbonated for a while or upper arms that recoil from sleeveless dresses, now is the time to start getting fit for summer. Expensive gym fees are one of the excuses often trotted out by people avoiding exercise - but getting fit can be done free.
Bust a move
Dancing is a great energy-burner and also lifts your spirits. Fifteen minutes of dancing can burn up to 115 calories (about the equivalent of a glass of wine). If you're self-conscious about your abilities, wait until you have the house to yourself, turn up the music and dance around your living room. Combine dancing with housework for a varied (and productive) workout.
Taking the stairs is one of the best ways to tone your bum and thighs. Ban yourself from using lifts every time you get a chance. If you go for a walk to wind down after work, seek out places in your neighbourhood where you can include a flight of steps - a couple of laps around a block that takes in a hike up a few flights of steps and your muscles will be burning.
Use your phone
Lots of fitness apps for iPhone are free and are good for fitness tips and tricks as well as keeping you on track. At the popular Daily Burn you can record everything you eat and the exercise you've done to keep track of energy consumed versus energy expended. It also offers suggestions for workouts to get you out of a rut. Nike Training Club and targeted apps like Butt Workout are little personal trainers in your pocket.
Seek out local parks
Dotted throughout most cities are little enclaves of greenery. Rather than running on the footpath, where you have to dodge walkers, dogs and cars when you cross the road, head to your local park and exercise on the grass. Run laps - the softer surface is easier on your joints - do sit-ups and press-ups on the grass or take your soccer ball or cricket set with a group of friends for a game at the weekend. Check out local parks in Auckland such as Craigavon in New Lynn and Rocket Park in Mt Albert that offer free exercise equipment as well.
Head to the beach
Most people in Auckland don't live very far from the beach. Make the most of it and head to the one closest to you. If it's too cold to swim, go for a run or walk along the sand next to the water. The movement of the sand will make your muscles work harder, burning more calories. Take your shoes off while you're at it - sand is a good exfoliator and will give you a free pedicure.
Make use of your commute
See if you can get some exercise in on the way to or from work. Ten minutes' exercise three times a day is as effective as one 30-minute burst. If you take a bus, get off a stop earlier and walk the rest of the way. Walk or cycle to work, or park your car further from your office.
Get free workouts
Lots of websites offer free fitness classes. Check out YouTube if you know what you are looking for, or a website like www.exercisetv.tv that offers loads of free videos of different cardio and strength workouts. All you need is an internet connection and enough space to move around. Great for people who are self-conscious in group fitness classes. The only downside is that there's no one to check your form.
Don't rest in the ad break
When Shortland St goes to commercials, don't pour yourself a glass of wine or put the jug on. Get down on the floor for 20 sit-ups, then do 20 squats and 10 lunges on each leg. Repeat every ad break during the programme and you won't even notice how many crunches you've done. You'll have toned muscles is no time.By Susan Edmunds