smart spending

Check out free online fitness program

In the immortal words of Hans and Franz from the early '90s "Saturday Night Live" skit, this month's winning Frugal Sense tip will, "Pump ... (clap) you up!" Stop being a "girlie man" and check out a free online fitness program.

Frugal Sense winner Aldra Robinson discovered three Web sites that offer free customized exercise plans you can implement in the comfort of your own home instead of purchasing an expensive gym membership or big, bulky equipment.

February's Frugal $ense winner: Aldra Robinson
Aldra Robinson won $100 for submitting the following tip:

Get fit for free using the Internet
"After the holidays, gym memberships get more expensive as folks try to work off those holiday pounds. But you don't have to spend a dime to get fit using a customized plan. Sites like MarineCorpsFitness.com, One Hundred Pushups and Two Hundred Sit Ups provide formal programs at no cost and don't require any elaborate equipment." -- Aldra Robinson of Long Beach, Calif.

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Bankrate: How did you find out about these Web sites?

Aldra Robinson: Well, I actually write a blog about frugal/green living. So I'm always looking for cheap ways to live. It was around the holidays and my husband wanted a gym membership. So I was searching for ways to give him what he wanted but not actually have to pay money. Isn't that loving? I think I maybe saw one of the Web sites in a magazine. But I don't remember which one.

Bankrate: Have you taken advantage of this idea?

Aldra Robinson: I have a gym on site at work. So my husband has taken advantage of it. His "guns" are getting bigger.

Bankrate: Can you describe these custom plans?

Aldra Robinson: It's a formal system. They start you out at a beginner level and then you increase at a particular pace. With the one from MarineCorpsFitness.com you have to pay extra money if you want an even more personalized plan. ... It's a program where you do this on day one, and this on day two. There are specific exercises and numbers of repetitions and all that jazz.

Bankrate: So these are exercises/workouts people can do in the privacy of their own homes?

Aldra Robinson: There are tons of different exercise Web sites. But these programs don't require you to buy any special equipment. You're basically using the resistance of your own body weight.

Bankrate: Do you have any other advice on saving money or being frugal?

Aldra Robinson: I always ask myself: One, do I need or want it? Two, do I have something else that can satisfy the same function? Do I really need a bread maker when this, that or other could take care of that need? Three, how am I going to pay for it? And four, where do I put it? (I live in a studio apartment, so there's no room.) That will pretty much stop 99.9 percent of any unnecessary spending. I don't use credit cards. If I have to pay cash, I'm less likely to buy something I don't need.

Bankrate: Have you taught yourself to be frugal, or did you learn it from somewhere?

Aldra Robinson: It was instilled in me by my parents. They didn't go to college until later in life, so I was able to watch how our standard of living improved as a result of education. Also, I knew what it was like to be raised in poverty. I work in the nonprofit industry, which notoriously doesn't pay well, and I live in a very expensive part of the U.S. -- California. So I've had to learn some tricks to continue to do what I love, which is helping people, and still live well.

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