My husband and I both love going to the gym. We enjoy outdoor activities too, but both of us have also worked out at the gym since we were in college. In our first apartment together, we had a great gym facility on site, and used it just about every night. For the five years that I worked for the public library in our old town, I got a gym membership for free as a job perk, and we only had to pay for my husband’s membership. We went to that gym at least four or five evenings a week, until our son was born. We always went together, but once our son arrived, we had to start staggering our trips, and we definitely started going a lot less. We began working out at home, but the only equipment we had room for was free weights and some yoga mats. I got some good yoga and exercise DVDs at a thrift store, and we cobbled together some workout routines that we’ve been using for the last couple years.
But we missed the gym. Specifically, we missed the equipment they have at gyms. There’s a nice gym in our new town, and we did briefly consider joining. But I think it was going to cost somewhere around $800/year for both of us to join, and we’d have had to either stagger our visits or pay extra for child care at the gym. Plus, with our mini-farm and our son, our schedule is packed a bit tighter than it used to be.
We have a basement in our house now, and space to do things we couldn’t before. We still have the same amount of living space on the main floor (about 1300 square feet, which is perfect for us), but we have an unfinished basement where my husband has his office, and it has lots of unused space in it – especially since I started purging stuff last spring. So we set out to find our own gym equipment. Several weeks ago, my husband found a nearly-new BowFlex on Craigslist for $200. It’s in excellent shape, and works perfectly. We’ve found that we’re able to do pretty much any resistance exercise we can think of on the BowFlex, and it works great for both of us.
We also wanted a piece of cardio equipment. I love to walk and run outside, but we live in a very flat area and wanted something that could simulate hills. We looked at treadmills, ellipticals, and stair steppers. It was shocking how many options there were on Craigslist. And how many of them said that the machine had only been used a few times and was being sold for less than half of what it cost new. We were looking at several machines in the $400 range (original price of about $1000 – $1600), and then we came across a person selling a stair stepper that had come from a gym that had closed. It was commercial grade (retails for about $2900 new), working perfectly, and was part of a lot that the guy had bought at auction when the gym closed. He had sold most of it, but still had a few pieces left and wanted to get rid of them. He was selling the stair stepper for $100. We hitched up our trailer, went to his house, and tried it out. It felt just like the equipment we used to love at the gym. It was quite a process to get it down the stairs into our basement, but we both had great cardio workouts last night, and we now have a perfect little gym in our basement. Between biking, walking, and running outside, and all the stuff we can do in our basement now, we no longer miss the commercial gym at all. We have a few giant mirrors down there that we got for free on Craigslist last spring, and although the basement is unfinished, the side with the gym equipment feels perfect.
Between the BowFlex and the stair stepper, we spent $300. That’s less than what it would have cost for one year at the gym for one of us. There’s no chance that the equipment will just sit there gathering dust, as we both have a very proven track record when it comes to exercise. We’re thrilled with our new little gym, and thankful for Craigslist! Last night our son was asking for something and I said we didn’t have any. He said “Oh, ok – I’ll find some on Craigslist.” I guess he’s picked up on his parents’ favorite place to shop! If you’re looking for exercise equipment of any type, I highly recommend searching for gently used items. There are lots of people who purchase brand new machines only to find out that they hardly use them at all and are ready to get rid of them a couple years later. The discount off of the retail price is usually pretty significant.
On another topic, for those of you who were interested in the Ecofrugal Baby book that I wrote about last week, the author has asked me to let you know that she will be hosting a free talk, book signing, and virtual book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Ann Arbor, MI at 4pm on November 7th. If you order a book from Laura’s website (29diapers.com), you can request an autograph when you order.