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FITNESS ON A BUDGET

Turn the world into your gym

No gym gear? No problem. Get fit the natural way. Hike local trails, scale buildings, exercise on the beach. It's inexpensive -- and scenic.

January 05, 2009|Jeannine Stein

Gym memberships are something of a luxury these days. But without the usual suspects -- treadmills, elliptical trainers, cable machines and free weights -- is it easy to get a decent workout?

Absolutely. Just take your workout to the streets -- or the beach or the hiking trail.

Southern California is a gym unto itself, with countless outdoor opportunities to exercise that don't cost a penny.

Hiking trails -- in Griffith Park, the Santa Monica Mountains and Runyon Canyon, for starters -- with their hills and uneven terrain, are perfect places to practice interval training and improve cardiovascular endurance, as well as strengthen core and leg muscles.

Miles of beach, glittering from San Diego to beyond Santa Barbara, are a fitness boon. Muscles must work harder when feet dig into sand, ramping up the difficulty of even the easiest workouts.

And the concrete and steel structures all over the city provide the perfect way to challenge all major muscle groups while partaking of parkour, a relatively new discipline in which people use only the body to navigate the environment by scaling walls, vaulting ledges and jumping up stairs.

Even for those who haven't abandoned the gym, training outside presents a break from the monotony of machines and can improve performance in sports such as basketball, soccer, skiing and cycling.

Curious about the possibilities, we polled three local fitness experts for L.A.-area workouts that provide great views and don't cost a thing. Sure, some exercises may seem familiar -- but doing them on an incline or an uneven or shifting surface adds an exhilarating element.

In some cases, we offer sets and repetitions for each exercise -- but they're only suggestions. Too easy? Increase the intensity of the exercise and add a few more reps. Too challenging? Knock down the energy and do a few less. Always work at a comfortable pace. (And check out a photo gallery of the moves at latimes.com/health.)

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latimes.com/health

Watch those moves

Look for more photos online of drills for the beach, trail and urban jungle.

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