In an ideal world, everyone would belong to a health club and would exercise consistently to take care of their health and fitness. The reality is that only a fraction of the U.S. population are members of health clubs, and not nearly enough people are committed exercisers. While health clubs are ideal places to exercise, and provide a lot of variety for workouts, you can get fit without a gym.
What’s nice about health clubs is the various equipment, classes and training opportunities, which make it easier to follow a cross training regimen. But with some planning, commitment and investment, it is possible to develop a healthy fitness routine on your own. Consider the following:
- Walk, run, bike or inline skate outdoors – Hit the pavement, find a nature trail, follow a beachfront path, or seek a track at a local school for outdoor exercise. Better yet, identify several paths so that you can vary the scenery and stay motivated during workouts. Monitor and dress for the weather, and depending on where you live, this can be a refreshing year-round endeavor. Just be sure to have a Plan B if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
- Invest in home equipment – A good piece of cardio equipment, such as a treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike, is worth it if you use it routinely. The same goes for free weights or a home gym. Mats for stretching and corework are inexpensive. Create a convenient exercise space at home for workouts, and keep everything handy. Stay motivated with good playlists or a TV where you can catch up on your favorite shows. Try different workouts on cardio equipment and consult magazines and online resources to mix up strength training sessions.
- Try online workouts or DVDs – For additional variety, check out online workout plans with videos to follow. Some are free, and some have nominal fees or membership opportunities. Look for workout DVDs at the library, secondhand stores and garage sales for great deals. Or swap DVDs with friends so you all can enjoy more variety. Rotate among these digital exercise options.
- Take a class or lessons – You don’t have to be a gym member to enroll in classes via the park district, local community colleges or businesses. Try something different, like Zumba, tennis, pickleball or yoga to add interest to your routine.
- Swim – If you can access a local pool at the community center or in your area, take advantage of swimming laps to work the entire body without impact. Use multiple strokes and distance/time goals and enjoy the retreat that the water provides while working all of your muscles.
- Tackle boot camp – In many areas, personal trainers offer independent boot camp workouts outdoors at local parks to challenge exercisers and create camaraderie. This can be a great way to tax muscles differently and to stay extra-motivated – for the short-term or for an extended period. You also can create your own boot camp at home by following a circuit routine with cardio and strength exercises that work the major muscle groups, such as squats, lunges, burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, push-ups, planks, crunches and more.
- Jump – Mini-trampolines have been shown to give great workouts that are also fun, and you can exercise while watching a movie at home. Or pick up an inexpensive jump rope and perform jumping intervals between strength exercises.
- Add more activity – Move more everyday, as all activity definitely adds up. Walk, take the stairs, pace when on the phone, do calisthenics when watching TV, make housework vigorous, stand more instead of sitting, and more.
Use the above tips to stay creative when not using a gym. Stay Fueled!