Saving cash: Quit working out...and start walking

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Even though I live on a shoe-string, I've been finding a lot of areas to trim back on while trying to pare down the monthly nut. I canceled all my newspaper subscriptions. I don't buy magazines anymore (I can read them at the library for free). I've started paying for everything in cash.

Here's another luxury I've decided will have to go: Exercise.

Rather, I should say exercise classes. I don't belong to a gym -- I'm inherently lazy and have always wondered why people pay to walk a treadmill when they could take a long walk in the cool breeze instead. But millions of people do, and many are questioning the expense these days.

I looked at the budget and was galled to find that I spend about $250 on ballet, flamenco and yoga classes every month. I love these activities. But I'm terribly irregular in my attendance. Some teachers don't let you make up a session. Getting to some of these classes requires a long drive.

Now, with the price of gas being what it is, I've been pricing tennis shoes (strangely, I don't have any of my own). Big Five has sales where I can get a decent brand-name for around $20.

I've decided that I can start walking for free instead of paying for my exercise. A friend of mine, listening to me kvetch about needing to lose five pounds, remarked "If you start walking to the grocery store instead of driving you'll lose that and more by the end of the month." I realized she was right.

I could save a lot of money and effort every month by simply walking my neighborhood instead of driving. It's a radical idea for a native Los Angeleno...but one that has merit.

Which means that in some sense, skyrocketing gasoline prices may actually help our bottom lines after all...the old-fashioned way -- walking and schlepping. As for my extracurricular exercise choices, honestly, after ten years of yoga there's no reason I can't do it myself in the living room (heck, I could teach classes myself). I can dance by myself, too. All I have to do is turn on the iPod.

What do you think? Is this a trend we'll be seeing more of as the economy deteriorates and gas gets ever more expensive?
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