Gyms can be fantastic motivating environments for both fitness junkies and anyone trying to make a lifestyle change. However, what often stops many people from even considering signing up for membership is the social aspect — such a setting can cause some to feel uncomfortable, anxious and self-conscious. While it’s important to tackle this kind of anxiety and feel more confident in your body when you work out, there’s also the hefty cost of gym memberships to consider.
Fortunately, there are other options available that in some ways outrank the gym in their unique benefits. Without further ado, here are four excellent ways to stay on top of your physical and mental health without signing up to your local centre.
1. Make use of online workouts
The reason many people find going to the gym a chore is not just because of the insecurity of exercising around others, but often because they are so far out of the way. That’s where the wonderful world of virtual workouts comes in.
When Joe Wicks stepped in as the nation’s online PE teacher, he showed us how remote workouts don’t have to be any less invigorating and enjoyable. Research has also shown it can overcome certain mental barriers people have towards building up an exercise routine.
While you might think that what you had in mind won’t be possible without gym equipment, that could be where you’re mistaken. As Naturally Sassy explains, “using your body’s own resistance to perform exercises like squats and leg extensions can be just as effective as using weights.”
2. Get outdoors
No matter where you live, there’s likely somewhere within nature that you can go for a walk or start jogging. Simply putting one foot in front of the other has been a transformative experience for many people who are instinctively allergic to the gym — walking writer Isaac Fitzgerald created a new blogging niche on this very topic.
What’s more, some claim that outdoor workouts are even more effective than going to a busy, sweaty weight room or spin class. Stylist even suggests that outdoor activities are more revitalising, result in delayed muscular discomfort and provide a quicker recovery.
So if you’re not a fan of running, or are looking to build muscle instead, take your dumbbells down to your nearest green space and let them rip. You could even mix it up and start tightrope walking — a fun (if chaotic) option for those with little ones to look after!
3. Embrace household chores
Cleaning your home can be a workout in itself — who doesn’t come up sweating after changing the duvet cover? There are a few specific activities which are opportunities to burn calories and gain strength. Doing your laundry is much easier since the invention of the washing machine, but you can still engage your legs and back when carrying that big basket of clothes around the house.
Meanwhile, if you have one, washing your car is an immersive exercise that involves your abdominals, back, shoulders and even biceps and triceps. If you’re willing to do it properly, vacuuming can also turn into lifting sessions as you move items around the house (along with the vacuum cleaner).
4. Use a fitness app
You’ve likely made good use of the step-counter over the years, but there’s more you can do with your smartphone than just making sure you know how much (or little) you’re walking. There are a range of fitness apps available that let you design your own routine, putting your exercises and wellbeing activities in your hands at any time of your choosing. Some even feature digital coaches that can help you stay on track with your regimen and fitness goals.
These apps can be incredibly useful for monitoring your movement over time so you get a great sense of your activity levels. Depending on what the numbers are telling you, you can choose whether to do more or vary your exercises, as you are able to see which behaviors are impacting your statistics — for instance, walking to work instead of getting the bus, cycling instead of walking, and so on.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto