NEW YORK (REUTERS) - People who believe a healthy lifestyle is expensive should speak to "Papa" Joe Aviance, a Los-Angeles musician who lost 250 pounds (113kg) using the city's sidewalks as his treadmill, its parks as his gym and a discount store as his health food destination.
The formerly 450-pound Aviance said he owes his now fit 200-pound body to walking 8km a day, every day around his inner-city Los Angeles neighbourhood.
"I thought, 'What's the easiest exercise I can do? I can't afford the gym, so I'll use the street,'" said Mr Aviance, who was unemployed when he began his fitness regime in 2011. "I like to say the sidewalk is my treadmill."
He swopped his junk food for vegetables and trail mix, purchased mostly from a discount shop and laced up his walking shoes. At first, drenched in sweat, he barely made it around the block, despite the motivating fast-paced dance music blasting from his headphones. Each day he went a little farther.
Five miles, or 10,000 steps, a day is a goal for most healthy adults walking for activity, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
Ms Michele Stanton, a fitness instructor and author of Walk Off Weight, said to reap the full benefits of walking you need to maintain a brisk pace, defined by ACSM as 4.8km to 6.4km an hour.
"That's not your window-shopping pace," said Ms Stanton, who is based in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania.
These days, Mr Aviance practically dances his route, regularly pausing for a set of push-ups in the park and encouraging onlookers to follow his footsteps.
"I've got about five kids that I've helped," said Mr Aviance, who has become a neighbourhood advocate for health and wellness."And all people I see on street who ask me what I'm up to."