I love the gym, but understand that not everyone does. Some people find it intimidating, or prefer to work out alone and not in the company of strangers. Maybe you are one of those people? Or maybe you do like the gym, but have limited time to get there? Maybe you just want some ideas to mix things up? If any of the above apply to you, then keep reading!
Whether you don’t enjoy the gym environment, are looking for something you can do on holiday, or are just looking for new ideas, there are SO many ways you can exercise without having to go to the gym!
Some of the types of exercises I’ve set out below will need some equipment and/or classes, and some won’t. I’ve set out 5 exercises and also listed some pros and cons for each, so hopefully you’ll find something that works for you! There are many, many more, but the below are some of my favourites and some of the most accessible.
1. Suspension fitness
This one requires a bit of an investment in equipment, but once you have it you can use it pretty much anywhere! You might have heard of the TRX, but that is a brand, not the name of the training (although people will probably know what you mean if you just say TRX!). If you’ve ever seen a system of straps hanging from an anchor point on the wall in your gym and wondered what it is, the chances are it’s a form of suspension training equipment. You can use suspension training for anything from strength training (body weight) to CV to flexibility – it’s a very versatile style of training!
· Full body work out that you can tailor to your own needs
· Excellent for core stability
· Compact and portable
· Durable and long lasting (when used correctly)
· Can be used at home
· Risk of injury if you don’t know how to use properly (I’d recommend getting some help when first using the equipment)
· Fairly expensive if you want to buy a TRX branded suspension system
· Only works with body weight
2. Martial arts
This one will mean you need to join a club or get a trainer. As you might know, I do tae kwon do and absolutely love it! I think martial arts is a great way to improve your fitness and, bonus, it’s fun! The disciplined and structured classes won’t be for everyone, but if you respond well to that type of training (or have never tried it before) then I’d highly recommend you give it a go!
· Improved overall fitness and athleticism
· Improved self-confidence
· CV aspects of training can assist with fat loss
· Improved discipline and focus
· Learn self-defence
· You will need to join a club or get a trainer which can be expensive
· You need to commit to training to see improvements
· Disciplined style of training isn’t for everyone
Running something that most people will be able to do as long as they have some running shoes and exercise clothes! You don’t need fancy watches or gear to run, although it can help! Jonny talked about how to do your first 5km run in a recent blog post (here), so check that out if you want tips on how to start. When people talk about running, they mostly imagine running outside or on the treadmill at a pretty continuous pace for a long period of time. That definitely can be done, but there are lots of ways of mixing it up – for instance by doing interval sprints, running in different environments (if you’ve ever tried running on the beach you’ll know that the different surface makes a BIG difference). Don’t assume just because you don’t enjoy running continuously for an hour that running isn’t for you!
· Improved cardiovascular fitness
· Can help with fat loss
· The exercise is weight bearing so can help with bone health and density
· Can be a good form of stress relief
· More versatile than people think and can be performed in lots of different ways and environments
· Relatively inexpensive
· Risk of injury, particularly if you don’t have the correct footwear
· Running can be uncomfortable for some people, particularly women (due to the angle of hips to knees)
· Some people find it boring
4. Pad work
“Doing cardio” doesn’t have to mean running! If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that I’m not the biggest fan of running – but pad work is a form of cardio I can get behind! I did my qualification in pad work training on Monday and can still feel where my muscles worked extra hard (it’s now Thursday). Pad work is great for CV health and also gives your upper body muscles a real workout! I also think it’s a great stress reliever, and it’s really fun! You can do this with a partner, or buy a punchbag – or just shadow box (not quite as satisfying though!).
· Extremely effective CV workout that can be completed quite quickly
· Can be sociable but can also be done alone
· Pads and gloves are relatively inexpensive
· Risk of injury if performed incorrectly
· High intensity so won’t be suitable for everyone
We really enjoy walking and hiking. Even when we aren’t feeling our best, and perhaps a more full-on work out is beyond us, a lot of the time we will still be able to go for a gentle walk! It get’s your heart pumping and your body moving, and really that’s what exercise is all about! Walking is low impact so is a very accessible form of exercise regardless of age or fitness. It doesn’t require and special equipment and for most of us there’s no reason why we can’t walk every day!
If you want to add more of a challenge, you can always walk faster or on an incline, so you can really get your heart pumping to aid in fat loss (if that’s your goal). If you want to make things even more interesting, why not try hiking! Whenever Jonny and I go away, where possible, we always go out on a hike to explore the local area. Hiking can very in intensity from gentle strolls to multi-day hikes – so there is something for everyone (Jonny and I enjoy something in the middle – we like a challenge but don’t want our hikes to last more than one day!).
· Low impact and accessible
· Can be made more challenging for those who want more of a workout
· Can be performed pretty much anywhere without the need for specialist equipment (unless you are properly hiking)
· Unless you go for a strenuous hike, you aren’t going to be able to work out as hard as some other forms of training
· Hiking equipment is expensive
· Some find it boring
This is just a quick overview with a few examples – there are lots more – but hopefully the list above has given you an idea of the kinds of exercises you can do without ever setting foot in a gym!