How To Exercise Without Going to the Gym
Often the go-to advice for getting exercise is, “join a gym!” But not everyone likes gyms. They can be expensive, inconvenient, or off-putting. Many don’t like working out in front of a crowd. Some do not live in a place that has a gym nearby. But a gym is not actually necessary to get in shape. Walk, jog, dance, or play sports to get your heart rate up for cardio, and use bodyweight exercises for strength training. Even someone with a busy schedule can find room for exercise without heading to the gym.
While someone people love going to the gym, it’s not for everyone. Whether due to the cost, because you prefer to exercise outdoors, or struggle to get on the equipment during peak periods, for some, going to the gym is a nightmare. Although you could look for ways to make it more fun, are there other ways you can get an effective workout and stay in shape? Yes, you can!
Want a way to workout that not only doesn’t cost you a penny, but you can do anywhere, any time? Then bodyweight exercises could be just the thing for you. From wall sits and squats, to planks and push ups, these provide a workout using only your body weight and can help you to build up your strength and fitness levels. What’s more, you can even do these in front of the TV, or if you travel a lot, in a hotel room.
A way to make your commute more fun while also getting exercise is by ditching your car and choosing another set of wheels. This could be investing in a road bike, a pair of rollerblades, or searching for adult scooters. Either of these could burn up to 800 calories an hour, making it an effective and fun way to exercise, with no gym in sight.
Wouldn’t it be good if exercising didn’t eat into your free time? Well, it doesn’t have to. If you have the option, using a standing desk and a treadmill at the office could allow you to get the exercise you need, all while working. Not only could this help you feel fitter and healthier, it could boost your confidence, productivity and mental health, too.
One of the most common ways people exercise without a gym is by taking a class. But aerobics or bums and tums can be a bit boring and repetitive. Instead, how about taking a more unusual exercise class? This could be hula hoop, aerial silks, trapeze or barre, all of which can give you a great workout and improve your strength in a fun and refreshing way.
Lastly, if classes sound like a good idea but you lack the confidence or the cash, what can you do? The answer could be YouTube. Here you’ll find loads of free classes from personal trainers, dancers and athletes, all helping you get fit from the comfort of your home. From strength workouts and Zumba, to yoga and kick boxing, you can do them all without attending the gym.
Go for a walk or jog
Walking and jogging are low cost ways to get in some cardio without having to pay gym fees. If you’re just starting to build a fitness routine, try taking a brisk walk for 20-30 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week. If you don’t find that you break a sweat from a brisk walk, increase your pace and jog instead.
- Walking and jogging are endlessly customizable to fit different schedules, fitness levels, and fitness goals. Vary the terrain and the pace to make your walk or jog more challenging.
- Take a hike in a natural area like a park or forest if you have some extra time. Hiking is both more physically challenging and a great activity to do with friends or family.
Bike during your commute
Biking is a low-impact cardio exercise that you can work into your daily routine. Bike to work or school if it’s close enough. If you can’t add a bike ride to your commute, take 30 minutes and go for a ride in your neighborhood, or use your bike to run errands such as grocery shopping.
- You can use biking to supplement your other exercises, or you can use it as your primary exercise. If you want to use your bike for daily exercise, try to do at least 30 minutes of active peddling at least 3-4 times a week.
- Find multiple venues for walking or running. Sometimes the weather is bad, or the same route is boring you, or the same route during the day is not so safe at night. Try:
- Outdoor or indoor tracks. Many schools and some municipalities have tracks open to the public. These may be used by teams or clubs at certain times, however. Stadium seating is an opportunity for calorie burning stair climbing, too.
- Malls. Early in the morning or later in the evening is a good chance to do some laps in a safe, climate controlled environment. Running is out, however.
- Bike paths. Although often called a bike path, it is often just as well used by pedestrians.
- Staircases. In larger, taller buildings have staircases which offer a great opportunity for walking or running stairs.
Join an intramural sports team
If you don’t want to go to the gym but you still want group or social exercise, look for a local intramural sports team. Many areas have teams for any sport from soccer and basketball to dodgeball and even quidditch. Check with your local recreation centers or look online for teams that interest you.
- Social media is often a great place to find intramural sports groups and teams or look for informal pickup games in your area.
Sign up for affordable exercise programs at your community center
If you aren’t into team sports, check your local recreation and community centers for affordable exercise classes like dance and yoga. These often cost much less than a gym membership but generally offer the same level of instruction and rigor.
Follow along with an exercise video
You can find exercise videos from most online streaming services, as well as in DVD and VHS form. You can find videos for many forms of aerobic exercise, from dance workouts like Zumba to interval training. These videos allow you to get a rigorous, structured workout in your own home.
- Different video producers will have different styles. Try a few different videos from different producers and creators to find the best match for you.
- You can find exercise videos for free on sites like YouTube if you don’t want to pay for the video or streaming service. You can also borrow an exercise video or DVD from your local library.
Practice a bodyweight exercise routine
You can find a wide variety of workout plans online that use bodyweight exercises to target different muscle groups or areas of the body. Use exercises like push-ups, triceps dips, squats, crunches, planks, lunges, and bridges to help you build your strength without any fancy equipment. To get started, try a once-daily routine like:
- Walk or jog for 5 minutes to warm up.
- 20 squats
- 10 push ups
- 20 lunges (10 on each leg)
- 10 tricep dips
- 10 crunches
- 30-second plank
- 30-second glute bridges
Use household objects to add weight to exercises
If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough resistance from standard bodyweight exercises, use household objects to increase the intensity. For example, you can use a gallon of milk or a heavy book to add more weight to your squats. Hold the book close to your chest as you squat to add resistance to this bodyweight exercise.
- You can also use household objects to try exercises that typically require weights, like rows and bicep curls.
Invest in a set of dumbbells or resistance bands
Both dumbbells and resistance bands can be found affordably from most sporting goods stores. Resistance bands can be used for exercises like rows, bicep curls, arm raises, donkey kicks, and presses. Dumbbells are versatile and let you tackle many of the exercises you’d find in your gym’s weight room.
- For curls, for example, loop the band under your foot. Grasp the band in a closed fist. Hold your arm so that your elbow is against your side, and your forearm is facing up toward the ceiling. Bring your forearm up toward your shoulder, then slowly lower it down to your starting position. The band will provide resistance as you lift.
- You will need different levels of resistance and different weight for different exercises. Try to invest in a set of dumbbells or resistance bands rather than getting just one.
- You don’t need both dumbbells and resistance bands. Either one will be beneficial. However, the different tools work different body parts in different ways, so if you have the resources, getting a set of each may be beneficial.
Plan an active date night
Combine your fun and your cardio and go dancing at a local dance club. Just because you’re out enjoying yourself doesn’t mean that you’re not getting exercise. The more you move and shake on the floor, the more exercise you’re getting. Or, go hiking, take a stroll around town, or even hit the gym!
- If dance clubs aren’t your scene, make a date night or a friend’s night out by going to a dance class or lesson. You can easily find groups for swing dancing, ballroom dancing, hip-hop, lyrical dance, and many other styles.
- Long moonlight walks on the beach are a wonderful way to spend a date night, and that can be exercise just as much as a workout on a treadmill and more fun!