Q: I’ve been on a cost-cutting spree. We stocked up on surge protectors and low-flow showerheads, and I even cut my gym membership. The first two changes were easy, but I’m a little worried about maintaining a workout routine when there is no financial obligation attached. How do I keep the pounds away without visiting the gym every other day?

A: Even with the financial obligation of a monthly fee, I had trouble fitting the gym into my schedule, so my membership bit the dust ages ago. Also, this has been one of the hottest summers on record where I live. At least that’s my excuse for avoiding twice-daily walks around the neighborhood with my dog Lulu. Truth be told, walking the dog brings the threat of dreaded run-ins with my neighbor and his two dogs, also known as Lulu’s mortal enemies. But your question and my ever-expanding Spanx wardrobe led me to take action.

I decided to put the leash away and talk to my fitness-focused neighbor. Certified personal trainer Reggie Swindell of Atlanta took his show on the road, providing customized workout sessions to groups in our neighborhood. He offers 13, one-hour training sessions that include kickboxing, strength training and other activities for about $10 per class. For now, I’ll stick with sharing some of Swindell’s secrets to getting the most from a workout beyond gym walls.

Start early: “The day tends to wear on you and people are pulling you in different directions,” says Swindell, who also burns energy spending time with his 3-year-old daughter. “A lot of people won’t sacrifice the sleep, but I’ve been converted into a morning person.”

Mix it up: Clients in the neighborhood work on stability, balance and strengthening their core. “We also do suspension training, using our body weight and hanging from a fixed structure.”

Interval training is the biggest trend in the gym right now, Swindell says. “For 30 seconds to 90 seconds, work as hard as you can, then move on to another challenge. Aim for up to 60 minutes of that type of workout, and intersperse high-intensity moves with rest periods.”

Don’t splurge on gear: While gyms have air conditioning, cool new gadgets and plenty of eye candy, that scene can get old. “It bores me,” Swindell confesses. “I love to deviate. I have a heavy bag that I hang up in the house. I also do martial arts, kickboxing and jump rope, which I picked up after I became a trainer.”

To keep clients challenged, he has them toss tires and medicine balls, and perform plyometric exercises that build speed and strength. He also capitalizes on the power of the pack through tandem exercises. Two people grab the ends of a 50-foot rope and create waves for 30 to 90 seconds. “You use every muscle in your body,” he says. “It’s pretty tough.” 

Consider group rates on an expert: While I’ve wasted my own money on an unused gym membership, chipping in on a personal trainer seems like a smart way to get expert advice.

“Especially with home fitness, the chance of harming yourself and spinning your wheels is greater,” says Swindell. “The most important thing we offer is an evaluation because most people have no idea what to expect from themselves as far as fitness.” 

He adds that a customized workout plan helps clients set and reach realistic goals.

“Each trainer should treat them as an individual and help them win each week,” he says. “When you get a good feeling from winning, it becomes a habit.”

Another benefit: You get to wash up in your own shower, without braving traffic to and from the gym.

Train for a marathon, not a sprint: “Fitness should be seen as something to do for the long run,” Swindell says. “If you do it short term and plan to dump it, the results don’t hold.” I guess that means Lulu and I better learn to make friends during our morning and afternoon walks. Better load up on new iTunes and dress light.

— Morieka Johnson

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