Fitness for Free
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2022

Fitness for Free

Tips for getting in shape without breaking the bank

If the only think keeping you from getting regular exercise is the cost of a gym membership, we've got good news. "There are plenty of ways to get in shape that don't require joining a gym," says Kathryn P. Sleeman, DPT, director of Rehabilitation Services at SVMC. "In fact, in some cases, you don't even need to leave the house or put on shoes. You just have to think a little outside the box and commit to exercising regularly." 

Exercise in the digital age
While there's some truth to the idea that technology has contributed to more sedentary living, the flip side is that it can also provide you with a direct link to endless free exercise options. 

"YouTube is filled with countless exercise and fitness videos," says Sleeman. "You can find everything from yoga, strength training, pilates, and low-impact workouts specifically designed for seniors, dance workouts, stretching, even exercises for people with bad knees, backs, hips, you name it. And it's all free." 

In addition there are numerous free apps you can download to your phone or other devices. 

There's literally something for everyone available," says Sleeman. "And because they're free, you can try different types of exercises that you might never have considered before. If it's not for you, no problem. Just try something else. The key is to keep trying things until you find what works for you and stick with it." 

Outdoor options
We're fortunate to live in a part of the world where it's easy to find places to exercise and explore the beautiful scenery around us. 

"Running, walking, hiking, and biking are all great ways to get your heart rate going and build muscle," says Sleeman. "While it's always important to have the proper footwear and a helmet, if you're biking, how much you spend is really up to you."

Making exercise a habit
Making exercise a regular part of your routine is key to long-term success. Sleeman advises, "It's best to start with an exercise that is so easy that you can do it, even when you are running low on willpower. Then, figure out what time of day is best for adding it to your routine. The more consistently you do it at the same time, the faster it will become a daily habit. And if you're someone who needs a little push to get going, try to recruit friends or family to work out with you. That bit of accountability and the chance to connect with others can be key to committing to regular exercise." 

Budget-friendly fitness options
Here are just a few of the many free outdoor exercise options available in the region. Check ahead about rules regarding pets. 

Bennington Area Trail System
Accessible from five different parking areas in Bennington.
14 trails totaling 8 miles and ranging from beginner to expert.

Bennington College Blue Trail
1 College Drive, Bennington.
2.5 miles of easy trails.

Equinox Highlands Natural Area
1599 Three Maple Drive, Manchester
A moderate 1.5-mile loop trail.

The Equinox Preserve
Access points at the Equinox Hotel, Southern Vermont Arts Center, and Burr and Burton Academy, Manchester
11.2 miles of easy-to-moderate trails.

Greenberg Headwaters Park
Belvedeere Street, Bennington
2.5 miles of easy trails.

Hoot, Toot, & Whistle Trail
Reardon's Crossing, Wilmington
An easy 3.8-mile out-and-back trail.

The Cascade Trail
22 Brickyard Court, North Adams
An easy 2.2-mile out-and-back trail.

Field Farm Trail
553 Sloan Road, Williamstown
An easy 2.4-mile loop trail.

Hoosac Range Trail 
Route 2, North Adams
2 trails: 1.6 miles (easy) and 6 miles (hard).

Mountain Meadow Preserve Trail
Mason Street, Williamstown
An easy 4.3-mile loop trail.

The Cambridge Community Forest
15 Rockside Drive, Cambridge
A network of easy-to-moderate trails.

Hoosic River Greenway
Access points on Church and Lower Classic Streets, the end of Waterworks Road, and Sewer Plant Road, Hoosick Falls
An easy 2.5-mile end-to-end trail.

Skateboard Parks
Center Street Skate Park
575 Center Street, Pownal

Lion's Park
6 Houghton Street, North Bennington

Manchester Skate Park
340 Recreation Park Road, Manchester

Unity Skate Park
298 State Street, North Adams

Play Areas
Bennington Recreation Center
655 Gage Street, Bennington

Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park
340 Rec Park Road, Manchester

Lion's Park
6 Houghton Street, North Bennington

Stark Street Park
150 Stark Street, Bennington

Willow Park
472 East Road, Bennington

Linear Park
Water Street, Williamstown

Uno Park
157 River Street, North Adams

Castle Park
9 Barton Avenue, Hoosick Falls

Fouth Ward Playground
Jackson and Kelly Streets, Hoosick Falls

Village of Cambridge Playground
56 North Park Street, Cambridge




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