How to keep your body and budget in shape

Danielle Directo

It’s old news that the economy is in less-than-stellar shape, and the last words many people want to hear paired with that ‘e-word’ are ‘downturn’, ‘crisis’ and ‘depression.” However, just because personal finances can’t be exercised as freely during hard times doesn’t mean your body needs to suffer too.

Memberships to major gyms like L.A. Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym will cost about $400 a year, not including enrollment fees and other fine-print add-ons.’ Further, some gym memberships do not guarantee that members can use any gym location other than their local one.’ Lastly, once you get to the gym after a long day of school or work, the equipment you want might not be available (or perhaps the bronze, sweaty muscle-strapped lad or lady using it isn’t willing to share).

There are many options to stay in shape at a low cost.’ Here are just some of those cheap and easy ways to stay fit.


As gas prices went up, bikes seemed to get dusted off from in the garage and out on the streets.’ L.A.’s own bicycle scene has grown tremendously, with anywhere from 50 to 500 cyclists riding together on night-time social rides.’ The moods of the rides can range anywhere from laid-back to themed costume parties.’ Critical Mass, a monthly bike ride that began in the early ’90s in San Francisco, has many ‘chapters’ internationally, including in the San Fernando Valley.’

Critical Mass is not exactly an organized movement; rather, cyclists decide upon a date and time to meet and any biker can ‘lead’ the group on a ride around town.’ The SFV Critical Mass meets every first Tuesday of the month at the southeast corner of Victory and Woodley in Van Nuys at 7:30 p.m.’ The rides are not only a great way to exercise, but also a way to meet new and like-minded people. Check for more info.’ For other bike rides, visit


A great and scenic hiking trail that leads to a waterfall and small natural pool at the end lies just off Angeles Crest Highway.’ Take the 2 north freeway through La Ca’ntilde;ada about 10 miles into the national forest.’ Switzer Falls is on the right hand side.’ Five dollars is required for an ‘Adventure Pass’ to park, but the small fee is well worth the sight at the end of the trail.’ A small stream runs alongside the trail, so make sure to wear good hiking boots and wool socks to keep your feet dry should you walk through the water.’ The trail is about 4 and half miles roundtrip.

Closer to CSUN, the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area has several wildlife trails that are free and open to the public.’ Entrance to the trails are off Woodley Avenue and off the 405 freeway at Burbank Boulevard, where there is a parking lot.