We're 10 days into the new year, and already your resolve to have a supermodel body seems to be breaking. I've been there. You walk into a gym that's offering a special on membership rates only to find that it's a discount for the first month, or worse — a free workout with a trainer valued at $200 disguised as a discount.
No worries, though. You really don't have to spend money to get shape in the Tampa Bay area. Fit clubs, free promotions, sponsored events and the like abound every day. With 20 minutes of research, you could map out an entire fitness routine for the grand total of $0.
But let's face it, we know you. You're not going to research and try out some class on a whim, only to find it too challenging or, weirdly, not hard enough. So tbt* did a little legwork to cobble together some easy choices.
The gym you already pay for
Whether you pay fees to an HOA, condo association or just a large apartment complex, part of that money is probably used to maintain a room full of weights and cardio machines rapidly collecting dust. You don't even have to get in your car in most cases; you can put on your sneakers, grab a bottle of water and walk to a gym that costs you no extra money and will have far fewer undesirables in it than your local health club. Make a date with yourself to hit the in-house gym twice a week, and then act surprised when your skinny jeans fasten while you're breathing.
The boob tube
But maybe you live in an awesome bungalow in Seminole Heights or a small apartment in Gulfport. What about you? Got Bright House cable? Great, you're ahead of the pack on the fitness game. Sportskool On Demand offers a range of fitness options, from yoga classes to cardio workouts for your living room.
Those outside the network need only turn to websites like YouTube and Hulu to find fulfilling workouts that don't require leaving the house. If stuff gets intense, you can hit pause and grab some water, or take a nap, you know, whatever. But at least you got some sweating in, right?
For those who need peer pressure to get off your duff, fit clubs abound. Chances are, your city has a Meetup.com group dedicated to free fitness alternatives.
The area's two largest are the 813 Fit Club and 727 Fit Club, but growing places like Seminole, Indian Shores and Bradenton have groups of their own. In Tampa, the 813 Fit Club holds several events weekly, including a BeachBody fitness class on Tuesdays at the Howard Johnson Hotel in Downtown Tampa. The workouts can range from an urban-assault run through the streets to an intense group class like P90X3 or Insanity. The new year just rolled around and the group is small, so there's plenty of space to slide in the back and try your hardest.
For more information, visit meetup.com/813FitClub.
Free classes in public parks
Got a biggish park near your job or in your neighborhood? Chances are those people sweating it out every other evening are paying bupkis to do it.
At Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, about 20 to 40 people gather every Wednesday night at 6 p.m. to make mincemeat of their muscles at Bamboozle Fit Club's Boot Camp in the Park. Chris Alberts, owner of Sweatshop Urban Gym and Fitness in downtown Tampa, teamed with the owner of Vietnamese restaurant Bamboozle Cafe to sponsor a free fitness class open to the public amid the gorgeous scenery of the Hillsborough River.
The hour-long boot camp offers cardio and calisthenics to improve your physique, and then you get a 20 percent discount if you eat at Bamboozle afterward. As with most outdoor fitness classes, the instructor accepts donations, but it isn't a requirement. For more information, visit bamboozlecafe.com.
I'm still searching for free ways to get fit, but this seems like a pretty good start for 2014.
After all, what can't be done with a little effort?