10 Wonderful Ways to Workout Without the Gym

Workouts

Do you feel like you’re a slave to the gym? Does the thought of heading there after a long day at work fill you with nothing short of dread? If so, perhaps it’s time to do the thing that you’ve always fantasized about before now. Perhaps… it’s time to quit.

Spoiler: You can do a full body workout without the gym. It’s true. There are plenty of interesting exercises and fun gym alternatives out there that will keep you feeling fit. You simply need to do a little research to find out what they are. The good news is that you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got all the details about how to get started right here.

How Effective Is It to Workout Without the Gym?

woman outdoors doing a crossfit workout without the gym

We all know that exercising is part of an active and healthy lifestyle. However, many of us are simply not meeting the baseline requirements when it comes to working out. Less than 5% of American adults engage in some form of exercise for 30 minutes or more each day.[1] As though that weren’t troubling enough, only a third of people reach the recommended amount of physical activity per week.

While it’s hard to revamp your lifestyle overnight, you can take small steps toward getting more active. Trying out some exercise ideas is a smart way to figure out which you enjoy the most. When you know that, you can decide which you can add to your current lifestyle. One of the biggest questions you have to answer here is whether you want to join a gym or try a workout without the gym.

Choosing a subscription plan at a local gym may be the most logical seeming way to kickstart your fitness, but is it the best option? Why not engage in a workout without the gym? Here’s what you need to know about some of the benefits you may get from ditching the treadmill and trying something completely new for a change.

Working out at the gym is costly

women running on treadmills in the gym

Signing up for a gym membership is no small feat. For one thing, many fitness centers will require you to sign up for at least 12 months, if not more. Paying around $40 per month for this membership is a big commitment. When you add that to the cost of induction and any extra fees that you may have to pay, the tally soon racks up. Choosing a workout without the gym means that you don’t have to commit that much money to your fitness. You can also be flexible and choose from a range of different exercises not offered by your gym.

It depends on your personality

woman running down stairs outdoors having a workout without the gym

If you’ve never been too keen on the gym, you shouldn’t consider it a fatal flaw. Your personality type may well determine which workout style you will take to best. Research from the British Psychological Society (BPS) suggests that creative people are better suited to outdoor activities, such as cycling, running, and hiking.[2]

The same study also suggests that extraverts would find it easier to exercise at the gym than others. With that in mind, if you happen to be a creative and introverted person, you may find that it suits you to go outside for a run rather than heading to the gym. Go ahead and try a simple workout without the gym now.

Workout groups lead to success

group of women doing stretching exercises outdoors and getting a workout without the gym

Research has found that there are many benefits to working out in a group, as you may in a class or sports team situation. For example, one study published in the Obesity journal found that spending time with fitter people helped overweight individuals to lose more weight than they otherwise would.[3] The reason for this is likely that the fit peers encourage others to lead active lifestyles. In a class, they may raise the bar and motivate people.

Exercising outdoors helps mental well-being

woman in hiking gear standing at a cliff's edge looking out to the forest below

Looking for a way to boost your mental well-being? According to a systematic review from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, exercising outdoors could be the solution that you’ve been looking for. The study found that there was a link between engaging in an outdoor workout without the gym and self-reported levels of mental well-being.[4] In fact, the research could mean that there are more mental benefits of exercising outdoors than there are of exercising indoors, e.g. in a gym or fitness center.

The experts suggest that exercising outside could help people who suffer from depression and other mental ailments. Since depression disorders affect 40 million adults in the U.S., according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, alternative treatments like this one essential in the modern world.[5] Hence, choosing outdoor activities, rather than the gym, may give you a psychological boost.

It can also make exercising feel easier

woman with her bicycle at a water's edge looking out onto the lake

Do you have a hard time getting started when it comes to exercising? Choosing to get outside may help. One study found that the perceived exertion that exercise demands is less when participants are outside as opposed to when they are indoors.[6] In simple terms, that means that working out can feel much easier when you’re surrounded by nature.

Considering some gym alternatives, such as jogging in the woods or heading out to ride your bike, is a great place to start. If the theory stands up, getting out of your home (or any other place) could change your perception of being active. You may well find that meeting your fitness goals comes more naturally to you in this setting.

It can help to lower your stress levels

woman jogging in the woods and getting a workout without the gym

Contrary to popular belief, stress does not merely affect your mental state. Statistics from The American Institute of Stress found that a massive 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress.[7] These include headaches, fast breathing, high blood sugar, insomnia, a fast heart-rate, stomach ache, and even, in more extreme cases, a higher risk of heart attacks. With that in mind, it’s important to deal with the issue.

More than half of the American population exercises or engages in physical activity as a way of managing their stress levels.[8] However, where you choose to work out could play a vital role in how effective this technique proves to be. Research has shown that your adrenaline, noradrenaline, and stress hormone cortisol levels all fall directly after spending time in nature.[9] The lower these levels are, the less stressed you will feel.

Combine that with the fact that exercising is an established way to manage your stress, and choosing a workout without the gym comes out on top. Simply taking the time to get outside and move your body could be enough to keep your stress levels at bay.

5 Exercise Ideas That Don’t Require a Gym

Whether you’re trying to save some pennies or simply don’t want to go to the gym, finding alternative exercise ideas isn’t hard. There are plenty of ways in which you can work out and slim down without even so much as setting foot in the gym. From getting out in the wild to heading to the local beach and taking a dip, you just have to get creative when it comes to your fitness regime. Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Swimming

woman with a swimming cap swimming laps in an outdoor pool

Calories per hour: 440 kcal
Difficulty level: Beginner – professional

Targeting your core muscles while giving you a burst of aerobic exercise, you can’t go wrong when it comes to swimming. Should you have an injury or disability, you may also find that this form of exercise is a great way to stay in shape without putting too much pressure on your joints or muscles.

It may even help you to relieve some of the strain and pressure. One study from The Journal of Rheumatology found that swimming helped to ease the joint pain and stiffness created by osteoarthritis.[10] You can try this workout with the gym and it is ideal for people of all skill and fitness levels. Give it a go!

How to get started

Ready to dive right in and start swimming? Should you live in a coastal area, you could go swimming in the sea and exercise for free. (Note: You should be a strong swimmer and pay attention to tidal information if you plan to do this!) On the other hand, you could check out local swimming pools and see how much it costs to use them.

2. Resistance band training

woman doing resistance band training workout without the gym

Calories per hour: 182 kcal
Difficulty level: Intermediate – professional

Rather than using weight sets as a part of strength training, resistance band workouts help you to target your muscles and add pressure to exercises. Of course, one of the greatest benefits of using resistance bands as a workout without the gym is that you can do it at home. There are plenty of simple moves you can learn in no time.

Research from Yale University also suggests that this type of strength training could help to improve physical decline levels as we age. That means that including resistance band moves in your workout idea could help you to stay looking and feeling younger than ever.[11]

How to get started

You don’t need to go to the gym to start resistance band training. You can try this at home. Get yourself a resistance band and start working out whenever you feel the urge. You can look up lists of exercises online or go ahead and watch some YouTube tutorials. Learning some of the basic moves will help you get to grips with this workout without the gym.

3. Bodyweight exercises

woman doing bodyweight exercises at home and getting a workout at home

Calories per hour: 285 kcal
Difficulty level: Intermediate – professional

Have you tried this neat workout without the gym yet? If you’re hoping to slim down, you may well find that bodyweight exercises are the key to your success. Research shows that weight training (including bodyweight training) is more effective in burning fat than cardio workouts for older people.[12] Rather than investing in a costly and heavy set of weights, you could use your own body weight to help you train.

These types of exercises are unique in that they use your own body weight against you. For example, you might do some press-ups. All of the tension in that exercise comes from you having to use your arms to lift yourself up off the ground. Instead of using free weights, as you would in traditional strength training, you use your own weight.

How to get started

Ready to give bodyweight training a try? All you need for this sport is a gym mat and some space. You can give it a go in your home or, if you fancy getting some fresh air along the way, in a local park or garden. Take a look at some of the most popular bodyweight exercises online and see whether they work for your current fitness level. You could even put together a short routine to help you stay in shape all year around.

4. Jogging

woman jogging outdoors in a park

Calories per hour: 389 kcal
Difficulty level: Beginner – professional

When you’re considering exercise ideas that get you moving in the great outdoors, you don’t want to overlook jogging. This type of cardio workout will get your blood pumping while attacking some of the major muscles in your body, including your quads and core.

Research from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) suggests that jogging as a regular part of your lifestyle can increase your life expectancy by more than five years.[13] Women who jog live for an average of 5.6 years longer than those who don’t, while men who jog live for an average of 6.2 years longer than those who don’t. Why not pull on your sneakers and get started today?

How to get started

Of course, the most obvious way to start jogging is to get out there and begin running slowly. However, there are some things that you likely want to keep in mind before you start out. You should choose a place that is quiet and, if at all possible, pedestrianized. That way, you can make sure that you are completely safe when you run. You may also want to plan your route before you head out so that you don’t get lost.

Pro Tip: Are you a newbie when it comes to jogging? If the answer is yes, it could help to download a few apps that will give you advice along the way. You can use platforms to plan your routes and map them out as you run.

5. Cycling

woman cycling outdoors

Calories per hour: 398 kcal
Difficulty level: Intermediate – professional

Riding a bike isn’t just for children! Cycling is a wonderful way to raise your heart rate and get working out. When you cycle fast, you will give yourself a full cardio workout that should help to keep your heart healthier for longer. Bonus: You don’t have to make extra time to give this exercise a go. Why not start commuting to and from work on your bike? One study from the University of East Anglia suggests that walking or cycling to work can help you lose weight and, in doing so, lower your BMI score.[14]

How to get started

Should you already own a bike, you can get started right away. Be sure to look for places where it’s safe for you to ride without too much traffic or obstructions. If you haven’t got on a bike in years, you might need some refresher lessons before you get started.

5 Quirky Gym Alternatives You Should Try

Thinking of ditching the gym altogether? It might sound radical, but it could be a fantastic way to improve your fitness levels. If you find the gym “boring” or see it as a chore, you’re never going to stick to a proper exercise regime. You will end up dreading working out each day, which means that eventually, you will quit and give up.

Luckily, there’s a whole range of exercise ideas that don’t require you to have a pesky membership at all. What’s more, trying something completely new could help you to boost your motivation. Here’s a secret – the more fun you have, the longer you will work out. The longer you work out, the more calories and fat you burn, and the healthier you get. Here are some quirky gym alternatives that you have to try for yourself.

1. Salsa dancing

close up of a woman's feet in salsa shoes

Calories per hour: 405 kcal
Difficulty level: Intermediate – professional

Do you have trouble motivating yourself to work out? If you’re not a particularly sporty person, the idea of joining a team or hitting the gym may send shivers down your spine. Have you considered dancing instead? One of the best gym alternatives involves shaking your hips and letting your feet do all the talking.

Salsa dancing a fast-paced dance style of dance that originated in Cuba in the 1960s.[15] Over the years, the tradition has spread across the globe and is now one of the most recognizable forms of dance. What’s more, it’s no longer just a fun and expressive pastime. The dance has now been developed into a cool fitness trend too.

How to get started

The easiest way you can get started with this fun exercise idea it to learn the basic steps. Go on YouTube and find a quick tutorial that will take you through them. Once you know the steps, you could go ahead and join a class. Many places, including bars and community centers, run regular classes. Search for one near you.

Pro Tip: Salsa dancing is a highly social activity! Why not invite a friend or your partner to take the class with you? Doing so will mean that it’s more fun and that you have someone to motivate you when it gets hard. What’s more, you can even practice at home too!

2. Hula hooping

woman in fitness gear with a hula hoop for exercise

Calories per hour: 281 kcal
Difficulty level: Intermediate – professional

Who says that fitness regimes have to be dull? One of the most exciting ways to get your heart beating is to give hula hooping a go. This type of exercise targets your core muscles, obliques, glutes and thighs too. It also helps you to improve your coordination and timing. As if that weren’t enough to get you excited, it also happens to be a fantastic cardio workout.

Plus, you can try this workout without the gym or much equipment at all. All you need is a hula hoop and a little patience. One of the major benefits of a hula hoop workout is that it can help to tone up your stomach area. When you pair that with the fact that it’s a fabulous form of aerobic (i.e. fat burning!) workout, you should find that it’s a real winner.

How to get started

Since hula hooping is a huge trend right now, you should find no problem seeking out a class where you can learn the basics. However, you can give this activity a whirl for yourself. Get a hula hoop that suits your size and stature. The basic move is about keeping the hoop in rotation by rhythmically moving your hips and stomach. It may take you a while to get this right, but keep at it!

3. Pole dancing

woman doing pole dancing as a gym alternative

Calories per hour: 350 kcal
Difficulty level: Intermediate – professional

Have you ever considered this intriguing gym alternative? Pole dancing is less about dancing than it is about strength training and flexibility. Rather than just spinning around on a pole, this sport is about learning to carry your own bodyweight and move seamlessly. The activity targets your core muscles, as well as your quads, biceps and triceps. It takes training and hard work to get to a proficient level in this activity.

The activity is now a recognized competitive sport too. The International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) host the World Pole Championships which sees thousands of athletes compete each year.[16] While nobody expects you to be a pro off the bat, it’s worth understanding that this exercise form could become more than a mere pastime.

How to get started

Unless you already have a sturdy pole fitted in your home, the best way to get started is to find a certified class. The International Pole Sports Federation (IPSF) also has a range of free tutorial videos on their website which you can use as learning resources too.

4. Boxing exercises

three women doing boxing exercises as a gym alternative

Calories per hour: 368 kcal
Difficulty level: Intermediate – professional

Combining the basics of combat training with a cardio workout, boxing exercises could be an interesting way to get in shape. As an added bonus here, you will get the chance to learn the fundamentals of self-defence while you get into shape. You can try this workout without the gym but you might need to find a sports center that offers it. Working your biceps, triceps, and core muscles, this sport is one that many people find effective.

How to get started

Boxercise is a registered brand and could be the easiest way to introduce yourself to this sport.[17] Fancy giving it a go? You can use the company’s homepage to find classes and fitness instructors near you. You could either follow a certified course as part of a class setting or, if you prefer a one-on-one situation, you could get a trainer.

Warning: If you plan to compete in boxing competitions (rather than the fitness version, which does not involve competition), you need to know about the risks first. Research suggests that as many as 20% of professional boxers end up with damage to their brain.[18] The chances of getting hit hard are high and might not be worth it for you. It may be better to simply engage in the standard boxing workout without the gym.

5. Surfing

woman in yellow bikini surfing waves as a gym alternative

Calories per hour: 334 kcal
Difficulty level: Beginner – professional

Finally, let’s look at one of the most thrilling gym alternatives. Are you lucky enough to live in a coastal town or a city on the seafront? If you are, there’s one sport that you should absolutely try. Why not catch some waves and give surfing a go?

At the heart of this fun and exhilarating sport is a cardio workout – it takes a whole load of energy to keep jumping back up onto your surfboard! It also benefits your overall fitness as it takes balance, poise, and a strong core to get right.

How to get started

If you’ve never tried to surf before now, you’re going to need some help along the way. Should you live near the coast, you might want to attend regular classes and learn how to do it with a group. On the other hand, if you don’t live near a beach, you might want to go on a surfing-based vacation. You can book an active trip that involves a crash-course of lessons as part of the deal.

Plus, you don’t even need to go near water to try this type of workout. You could also look for indoor surfing workout classes that take the basic practices from the sport and apply them to a fitness routine. In each studio, you get your own static surfboard which you use as the base of your training! Intrigued? We certainly are.

10 Wonderful Ways To Workout Without The Gym

Conclusion

If you’re sick and tired of running on the treadmill hour after hour, it might be time to change things up. With any luck, this guide has shown you that there are plenty of gym alternatives. Try a workout without the gym today and see how you find it. You may well find that you can save yourself some money and find a new, active hobby.

References

  • [1] https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/index.html
  • [2] https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/don’t-going-gym-it-could-be-your-personality
  • [3] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.21512
  • [4] https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es102947t
  • [5] https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
  • [6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710158/#B27
  • [7] https://www.stress.org/daily-life
  • [8] https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2017/state-nation.pdf
  • [9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3710158/#B27
  • [10] http://www.jrheum.org/content/43/3/666.short
  • [11] https://www.yale.edu/opa/newsr/02-10-02-02.all.html
  • [12] https://news.wfu.edu/2017/10/31/lose-fat-preserve-muscle-weight-training-beats-cardio-older-adults
  • [13] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503104327.htm
  • [14] https://jech.bmj.com/content/69/8/753
  • [15]http://latino.si.edu/virtualgallery/sabor/SalsaResearchResources/articles/The%20History%20of%20Salsa%20Dancing2.htm
  • [16] http://www.polesports.org
  • [17] https://www.boxercise.co.uk/USA.php
  • [18] https://www.aerzteblatt.de/int/archive/article?id=79379

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