Fitness Articles

Declare Your Independence from the Gym

10 Ways to Get Fit without Fancy Equipment

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It's an excuse many of us have heard or even said ourselves: I want to get fit, but I can't afford a gym membership. While a health club can be a fantastic place to work out, it's not the only way to get fit. In fact, you can enjoy a variety of different workouts at home or outdoors that are extremely low cost and sometimes even free!

If you think that toning up or losing weight takes a gym or fancy fitness equipment, think again. Here are 10 workouts you can do sans gym that will challenge your body and give you great results.

10 Gym-Free Workouts

How to do it: Grab 10 small note cards and write one exercise on each: 5 cardio moves (jump rope, high knees, mountain climbers) and 5 strength moves (push-ups, lunges, crunches, etc.). Shuffle the cards. Warm up for 5 minutes by marching in place, then draw a card and do that exercise as many times as you can for 1 minute. Then move on to the next card for 1 minute. Try to go through the full set of cards, working up to running through the circuit of cards two, three even four or five times!
  1. Try a DIY Bootcamp. An outdoor bootcamp can be a lot of fun—who doesn't like fresh air and a good challenge? You can always create your own bootcamp, but it's more fun with a group, so gather a few pals and hit a local park with open space, trees, benches and other landmarks. With your group, agree on a duration of time you'll spend working out, then brainstorm different strength and cardio exercises you can perform using what's found around you. Get creative! Examples might include triceps dips on a park bench, seated squats up against a tree, pushups with your feet on a curb, sprints to a pond and back, and even hill repeats. No matter which exercises you choose, be sure to warm up with a 5-minute walk and cool down with some gentle stretching.

  2. Pop in a workout DVD. There really isn't an excuse not to work out at home with the vast array of workout DVDs available including Pilates, dance, strength, kickboxing—the list goes on and on. While many DVDs require little to no equipment, others allow you to use things you have around the house such as soup cans as dumbbells or a chair for support. No matter what level of exerciser you are, there's something out there for you! If you're not sure where to start, why not try Coach Nicole's convenient and effective DVDs, which are broken into 10-minute segments?

  3. Go for a walk. Walking is one of the best activities to do because it requires only a pair of supportive shoes, and it's something that comes very naturally to most of us! If you're a beginner, hit the pavement at a pace that gets you slightly out of breath but not so much that you can't carry on a conversation. If you're a seasoned exerciser, walk in an area with hills or try intervals of speed walking followed by a slower-paced walk. For more tips and workout ideas, take a look at SparkPeople's Walking Guide.

  4. Circuit train. Circuit training is a great way to fit in your cardio and strength training simultaneously.
     
  5. Try yoga. One of the best things about yoga is that you only need your body and a mat to do it. From online workouts that explain the poses to a variety of free yoga videos on YouTube, you can try any style of yoga without leaving your living room. You can even download workouts to your iPod and take your yoga practice outdoors! While yoga isn't known for its calorie burn, it is fantastic for flexibility and can be a muscle builder when doing more strenuous poses like plank. It's also a wonderful stress reducer.

  6. Take a hike. If you live in an area with access to hiking trails, you're in for a real workout! Hiking is a great calorie-burner and aerobic workout—not to mention a fun and beautiful way to spend an afternoon! So grab a friend or loved one, lace up those hiking boots, pack some water and food (depending on how long of a hike you're going on) and hike yourself fit. I guarantee the scenery and your feeling of accomplishment after hiking will be loads better than doing hills on a treadmill at the gym!

  7. Go old school with calisthenics. Get fit with a retro calisthenics workout. From jumping jacks to sit-ups to push-ups and lunges, this dynamic form of working out requires nothing but your body weight and is just like what you did in P.E. class as a kid. Revisit those early roots for some serious calorie burning and body toning!

  8. Turn housework into a workout. Yes, you can put the lean back in clean by turning your usual household chores into a heart-pumping workout. The key is to focus on cleaning activities that have a higher calorie burn such as scrubbing, vacuuming and washing windows. Turn on some upbeat tunes and really put your back into it. Even try throwing in some lunges, squats or push-ups between chores to really feel the burn.

  9. Play! So few of us make time in our lives to just have fun and play. Whether it's engaging in a sport, playing an active video game or even just dancing around your living room, lighten up and do something active that you love. As long as you get your heart rate up you'll burn calories—and have a good time doing it. Consider an adult sports league to add a little friendly competition into the mix.

  10. Run it out. Just like walking, running is the perfect gym-free workout because all it requires is a good pair of running shoes and some space. Whether it's around your neighborhood, at a park or on a track, running burns more calories than almost any other cardiovascular activity, and those who do it regularly claim that "runner's high" is a real-deal. Visit SparkPeople's Running Center for workouts, training plans and more get-started tips.

See? No more excuses about not making it to the gym. A world of fitness is right at your fingertips!

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Member Comments

  • Very interesting.
  • I appreciate that many people don't like or are not close to a gym, but for me it is a life saver. I am fortunate enough to live very close to a spectacular gym where there are many women who look just like me. It is friendly, encouraging, and a great place for socializing too. Since I live alone I tend to feel isolated and unmotivated and a trip to the gym is often a psychological pick-me-up as well. I have weights and DVD's that have been used a few times but it is hard for me to stay motivated without the stimulation of other people around me. As I said, I am very fortunate. I figure my gym membership is just part of my health insurance.
  • This was a good article to help those who didn't like the gym for one reason or another. I realized that it was more difficult for a woman to work out in the gym with all those intimidating men and machines around. My advise would be to pay for a personal trainer just to get familiarized with the machines. It would be worth the money. I have been going to the gym for nearly 50 years, and it got harder each time. However, I managed to have the best of my workout on the worst day where I was tired and actually passed the gym and thinking about going home. There were many down times (lost job, divorced) in my life where I got the best motivation from the gym. It was true that my healthy body kept my mind active and strong. I had tried home gym several times but it didn't work, family interruption always got in the way. The main thing was to set your personal goal and achieve it.
  • This was a good article to help those who didn't like the gym for one reason or another. I realized that it was more difficult for a woman to work out in the gym with all those intimidating men and machines around. My advise would be to pay for a personal trainer just to get familiarized with the machines. It would be worth the money. I have been going to the gym for nearly 50 years, and it got harder each time. However, I managed to have the best of my workout on the worst day where I was tired and actually passed the gym and thinking about going home. There were many down times (lost job, divorced) in my life where I got the best motivation from the gym. It was true that my healthy body kept my mind active and strong. I had tried home gym several times but it didn't work, family interruption always got in the way. The main thing was to set your personal goal and achieve it.
  • I do not go to a gym but I work out everyday.
  • PLCHAPPELL
    Great alternate ideas.
  • Small changes lead to big changes and big changes lead to results.
  • Fit mind. Fit body. Fit soul.
  • tried this out and i loved it!
  • The gym, not my thing. I respect that it is for others. What we do share is a commitment to working out and becoming fit and strong. The suggestions given were great, yet since I am not a trainer and have no expertise...I don't always know what I can/could/should be doing. Also, I become bored easily and I appreciate mixing things up and trying new workouts. SparkTV and YouTube are great sources for those of us sweating at home. There are honestly more options than one could ever possibly do, and you can search for ones that meet your needs and work within any limitations you might have. Many also show modifications, and are free! After purchasing minimal equipment, I workout at home...five days a week. I have tried things I never would in a gym: tabata, cardio kickboxing, cardio sculpt, and Pilates. Just choose your trainers carefully...makin
    g sure they give form cues so you know you are moving correctly. My two personal favorites are Jessica Smith and Shelly Dose...find yours and exercise your strong, at home!
  • PATRICLAIRE
    If you're looking for a great way to lose weight that works take a look at my video where I explain how I lost 20pounds in 3 weeks! :)

    https://youtu.b
    e/Ba086oM2NIw
  • Love the idea of the note cards! I can make up the exercises I can do as I have limitations. Thank you!
  • JRMCCOY63
    These are excellent tips. Though I do like doing aerobic exercises with others at the gym, I do prefer working out in the privacy and convenience of my home.
  • I lost 50 pounds without a gym membership. The first 25 with body weight, no exercise equipment. Then people realized I was serious and started giving me dumb bells, DVD's and other small stuff for birthdays and Christmas. I got an exercise bike and a rowing machine that someone bought with the intention of using had was collecting dust in their garage. They were mine for hauling them away.

About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

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