- 7 Ways to Get Fit Without a Gym
- Did you find this useful?
- 9 Exercises You Can Do at Home to Get in Shape Without the Gym
- Lower Body
- How to create your own routine
- More from Life Cheat Sheet:
- Step 1: WHY Do You Want to Get In Shape? (Inspiration)
- Step 2: How to Eat (Nutrition)
- Step 3: What to do For exercise (Move!)
- Step 4: Who is On Your Squad? (Support)
- Real Talk: How Quickly can I get in Shape? How Fast Can I lose Weight?
- Do I need a gym membership?
- According to a celebrity trainer you don’t need to go to the gym to get in shape — here’s how to do it
- Nine reasons not to join a gym: How to get fit on the cheap
7 Ways to Get Fit Without a Gym
Yep, it’s possible to get fit without a gym!
Going to the gym isn’t always the best option when you want to work out. In fact, sometimes it just doesn’t make sense at all. Hitting the gym can be costly; both for your bank account and your precious free-time.
Personal trainers can get expensive, and even basic gym memberships can easily amount to hundreds of dollars a year. For those who are fortunate enough to be able to pay for professional assistance, PT’s are great and can definitely be worth the money, but there are many ways to get fit for much less!
Getting to the gym can also cut into your time. It can take several hours a week to get to and from the gym, especially if you tend to go doing rush-hour. And wouldn’t it be great to have the option to just work out in the convenience of your home?
If you’re trying to save time and money, or you’re simply more comfortable working out at home, get fit without a gym by using these tips:
Take advantage of free workout videos. These routines give you a lot of flexibility, as you can do them virtually anywhere, without equipment or a gym.
Walk when possible. Walking is the MOST underrated exercise. Going for a Sunday coffee? Save some gas money by going for a walk. You can also add extra steps to your day by parking further away to walk or by walking around when on the phone. Want to make it fun? Turn walking into a fun social event by inviting your friends or co-workers along for a Monday Mile. If you need more ideas check out these 5 ways to add more steps to your day.
Take the stairs. Elevators are great when you’re going to the 10th floor, but taking the stairs whenever it’s possible can make a big difference on your health. You can even walk up and down the stairs of your own house or apartment building to add a bit of exercise to your day. Did you know that climbing stairs burns more calories per minute than jogging?
Get your hands on some basic fitness equipment. Light dumbbells, a stability ball and jump rope can all be used for a great home-workout. If you can’t afford equipment, ask family or friends if they have any workout equipment lying around that they’re not using.
Get creative. This can actually get really fun. Think of items around the house that weigh more than a pound, but are easy to hold on to. Use them as weights by doing curls or squats. You can also use furniture as exercise equipment; try box squats or step ups on chairs. Get more ideas from these mini workouts!
Do bodyweight exercises. Planks, push-ups, squats, jumping jacks and step-ups are all great ways to get moving!
Make housework exercise time. Cleaning the house is actually a great way to get moving. Check out how many calories you can burn by doing housework with this calculator.
How do you work out when you’re not able to hit the gym? Come give us your tips on Twitter!
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9 Exercises You Can Do at Home to Get in Shape Without the Gym
Your busy schedule may make it hard to get to the gym on a regular basis, but don’t that let that stop you from working up a sweat daily. There are plenty of ways to exercise without spending hours at the gym, or even venturing outside your home.
Here are nine effective workout routines or individual exercises that you can squeeze into a few minutes. All you need is space on your living room floor.
If you are looking for complete workout routines, Adam Griffin recommends exercises that use high-intensity, full-body movements and a lot of cardio. Griffin, founder and CEO of a company called Bodeefit that’s focused on exercising without equipment, suggests a circuit that includes burpees, squats, skater’s lunges, and diver’s pushups. You can find details about the routine at Greatist.
Pushups, pull-ups, planks, and lunges are parts of several routines suggested by Men’s Fitness. Some of the routines require free weights or other light equipment, while others use only your own body weight. All are based on multiple sets of a few different movements that do not require a lot of space. Check out the magazine’s complete routines on their website.
If you are trying to lose the fat, but don’t have the time or inclination to venture into the cold for a long run, try these home cardio workouts from Men’s Fitness. They include jumping, pushups, and abdominal exercises.
Some of the workouts – such as one that calls for circuits of a jumping jack, a pushup, and a mountain climber – rely on your own body weight and quickness. Others use free weights or jump ropes (if you are looking for gym-equipment substitutes that you might have lying around the house, check out this list from Livestrong).
Browse the complete workouts on Men’s Fitness to find one that works for you.
Pushups are a great way to build strength. They also have the added benefit of working your core and lower body.
To complete a perfect pushup, Greatist says to make sure your back stays perfectly flat throughout the movement and keep your eyes focused about three feet in front of you so you don’t strain your neck.
If you find pushups boring, mix things up by moving your hands and knees. Greatist suggests trying pushups on bent knees, one hand at a time, or even balancing your hands on a medicine ball.
If you want to focus on your quads, glutes, hamstrings or thighs, try a few simple squats or lunges – no equipment needed.
Lunges and high knees are great ways to work out your lower body, according to Bodeefit.
The company also recommends mixing up your workout with a variety of squats, including jumping at the end of the movement or holding your squat at its lowest point. You can try squatting on one leg, keeping the other straight throughout the movement so that it extends straight out in front of you at the bottom of the squat.
If squats and lunges aren’t your thing, Hot5 Fitness recommends this lower-body routine. The routine involves balancing on one knee while raising or kicking the other leg. You can find the complete routine at MyFitnessPal.
Exercises that focus on your abs are some of the easiest to complete at home. Many require no equipment.
You might think of sit-ups, crunches or planks when you think of core exercises, but there are plenty of variations of these movements to try.
Instead of a simple sit-up, extend your arms straight over your head and do half a sit-up, suggests Men’s Fitness. Or, try a flutter kick. Lie on your back and raise your heels about six inches off the ground, Men’s Fitness suggests, then quickly flutter your legs.
We know yoga increases flexibility and it is calming for many people, but it also has unexpected benefits. According to Men’s Fitness, it can improve digestion and boost your immunity, as well as improve your brain function.
But yoga can be difficult to master without some help. So Fitness Magazine recommends some beginner poses, including mountain pose, bridge pose, and triangle pose.
How to create your own routine
If you want to create your own routine at home, tailored to your needs, WebMD recommends that it include five key elements.
First, the workout should include a warm-up, such as an easy walk. Then, it should include a cardio element, such as a faster walk, run, or an exercise involving jumping. A workout should also include resistance exercises, which could be squats, pushups, or exercises with small weights. Finally, WebMD recommends your workout include stretches or yoga to increase flexibility, and finish with a cool down.
To stick to your workout, WebMD suggests mixing up your exercises or working with a partner to avoid getting bored. Schedule your workouts so they become an important part of your daily routine.
More from Life Cheat Sheet:
- How 8 Victoria’s Secret Supermodels Sculpt Their Killer Bodies
- Make Friends With Your Body: Get Fit the Jennifer Aniston Way
- 4 Ways Your Grocery Store Manipulates You and How to Avoid It
This step-by-step strategy guide will tell you everything you need to do to lose weight and get healthy starting today.
I know you have lots of questions, and I promise I’ll answer every single one of them (yes, even that one).
These are the exact strategies we tailor to each 1-on-1 Online Coaching Clients, and I’m excited to share them with you today.
We create custom workout programs that get results! Learn more:
In this guide we’ll discuss:
Four easy steps to obtain the Nerd Fitness “Triforce of Winning!”
“But Steve, ‘tri’ means three…”
…don’t worry about that, because Triforce!
Either way, you got this.
You can read our overall philosophy below (which has helped hundreds of thousands of people), and help you get started today!
Step 1: WHY Do You Want to Get In Shape? (Inspiration)
Let’s start here. WHY are you reading this guide?
Do you want to get in shape to…
- Start dating again?
- Win a weight loss competition at work?
- Eventually play with your newborn son?
- Grow old with your significant other?
- Prove everybody wrong who said “you can’t do it?”
- Because you just want to look good naked?
Have a freaking reason, friend!
Write it down, hang it up in your bedroom, tattoo it on your face, write it down on a piece of paper and staple it to your forehead, whatever.
Just keep that reason for wanting a better life at the front of your mind at all times.
With our 1-on-1 Coaching Clients, we call this “Your Big Why.”
This reason is going to help you keep going when it’s raining or you’re tired or you had a crappy day at work and you just want to binge watch the Office and eat takeout.
In addition to having a good reason, many people get inspired by reading success stories of folks like them.
Luckily for you, we have lots of those stories on Nerd Fitness with many more to come. These are real people who love video games and books and work desk jobs (click on each to hear their full story):
LESLIE THE SINGLE MOM WHO GOT STRONG AS HELL:
SAINT THE SOFTWARE ENGINEER (AND GAMER) WHO LOST 60 POUNDS:
STACI WHO STARTED POWERLIFTING AND FOUND CONFIDENCE:
JEFF THE DOCTOR WHO TRAVELS 2 WEEKS EVERY MONTH – HE FINALLY GOT HEALTHY:
Maybe success stories aren’t your thing.
Instead, perhaps you like to get your inspiration from slightly nerdier inspirational articles from your favorite stories:
- Indiana Jones
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Legend of Zelda
- Hunger Games
- Assassin’s Creed
- Star Wars
- The Matrix
Or maybe you’re a video fan!
Well then, videos like these might make you want to run through brick walls:
Like to read?
This article will make you want to start strength training today.
Why all this focus on inspiration and motivation? Because getting in shape will never be “easy”.
The first week while you’re excited is fun.
It’s the rainy days and snow days and busy days at work when you DON’T want to work out that will decide whether or not you actually get in shape.
Unless you can find the discipline to push through those tough days, it becomes easier than ever to give up at the first sign of resistance.
And the name of the game is “consistent adherence.”
In other words, not skipping a workout and consistently eating healthy.
Step 2: How to Eat (Nutrition)
If you want to get in shape quickly, start making slightly better food choices!
80% of your success when it comes to getting healthy will depend on your diet – unless you are running marathons on a daily basis, you cannot outrun your fork, and you can’t out-train a bad diet.
If you’re not losing weight, it’s because you’re eating too many calories!
So, if you can work on making SLIGHTLY better food choices, and filling up your plate with plenty of protein and vegetables, you’re less likely to overeat calories!
Whether you want to count calories, cut out certain foods, or attempt a new diet all together, this is the most important step you can take:
- Start here: How to eat healthy – yes, it’s a long read. But it covers the basics and teaches you what to eat and not to eat.
- “How to Lose Weight: Pick the Right Diet“ Here’s an explanation of all the popular diets and how to pick the one that’s right for you.”
- Short on money? How to eat healthy without breaking the bank.
Now, most people can’t stick with nutritional changes because they try to make TOO many changes at once, their stomach freaks out and they run back to their comfort foods.
Sure, you can do things like the Keto Diet or Paleo Diet, but restrictive diets are really tough to stick with in the long term.
And temporary changes create temporary results!
My advice? Pick one food change every few weeks, and stick with it.
Whether it’s eating less calories per day, switching to diet soda, eating more vegetables or cooking your own meal once a week…small changes can lead to big successes in the long run.
I know how changing your diet can be overwhelming sometimes, and sticking with changes in the long term is really tough.
It’s why we built a 10-level NF Diet that tells you exactly how to transition your diet slowly so you can lose weight the right way and transform your physique permanently!
Download our free weight loss guide THE NERD FITNESS DIET: 10 Levels to Change Your Life
- Follow our 10-level nutrition system at your own pace
- What you need to know about weight loss and healthy eating
- 3 Simple rules we follow every day to stay on target
Step 3: What to do For exercise (Move!)
Okay, so now you should be all fired up and inspired and thinking,
“Hey Steve, this Nerd Fitness stuff is cool. I’m ready to get in shape.”
Let’s get started.
A) Pick goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely). Be incredibly specific with your goals so that you can actively plan what steps are needed to achieve those goals:
- “I’m going to lose 25 pounds this year by going to the gym 3 times per week for the next 6 months.”
Alternatively, if you are somebody that NEVER succeeds at your goals, instead put the focus on the habit and not the goal.
EXAMPLE: “I’m going to walk to Mordor by walking a mile every day for a month. If I go for a walk, I win.”
Whichever method you decide, it’s important to be deliberate in your actions:
- If you are setting goals – be SUPER SPECIFIC, write them down, and plan them out.
- If you are building new habits – add them to your calendar, set phone alarms or alerts, and do them EVERY DAY.
- Understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Optimus Prime didn’t transform in one move. This is NOT a diet, or a quick fix, but a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. Don’t expect overnight results, or abs in two weeks. Slow, steady progress.
B) Identify your Kryptonite.
Think back to the last time(s) you tried to get in shape and lose weight.
- How successful were you?
- How long did you stick with it?
- What made you fall off the wagon?
If you failed, congratulations!
You already know which “get in shape” method doesn’t work for you.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
So unless you enjoy not getting results, don’t try to get in shape the same way you did last time…it AIN’T gonna work!
If you counted calories, ran on a treadmill, and did kickboxing and you’re not happy with the results, it’s time to try something new.
Did work got busy or you went on vacation? Was it because you actually hated exercising?
Whatever it was, you need to pick a different strategy this time.
C) Find an activity that makes you happy, and do it all of the time.
Do you like to run? Awesome, do that (just do it right).
Do you like to lift weights? Awesome, make sure your workouts don’t suck.
Maybe you like yoga, or dodgeball, or Ultimate Frisbee, or rock climbing, or whatever!
If you tell me that “I don’t like to exercise,” then you just haven’t found the activity that makes you happy yet.
Here are 40 Ways to Exercise Without Realizing It.
We’re genetically designed to be active.
So if you “don’t like exercise,” it’s time to try new things until you find something that you DO like.
Sign up for a new class, join your company’s running club for a day, try out something in your basement or living room, just keep trying new stuff until you find something that you like.
And then do it as often as you can. As long as you’re consistently under your daily caloric energy expenditure, you will lose weight.
D) Supercharge your results and build a great physique.
And last but not least, learn how to get strong.
Getting stronger is one of the BEST things you can do with regards to losing weight and getting in shape.
Your body processes calories differently when you are strength training compared to other forms of exercise.
Essentially, your body needs to burn extra calories to rebuild all the muscles you just worked out during a strength training workout.
Also, there are then fewer calories to go around to store as fat!
This leads to lower body fat percentage and tighter muscles.
WIN WIN WIN!
Don’t overcomplicate things.
Here is a basic beginner bodyweight workout today that you can do in your own home too:
Oh what’s that? You enjoy working out in a gym?
Great! Here are 6 Beginner Gym Workouts you can start today.
And if you need even more examples, here are 15 Circuit Training Workout Routines to follow too!
To recap, here’s how to start getting in shape today:
- Determine your goals or habits you want to establish.
- Determine why your previous attempts didn’t work.
- Pick a fun exercise that makes you happy, and do it. A lot.
- Get stronger than you were yesterday.
If you’re overwhelmed at the very idea of how to get in shape, I hear ya.
From bootcamps to “What is CrossFit” to Weight Watchers to paleo to vegan to Klingon, how are you supposed to make sense of all this information to find the right path?
The truth is that there is no ONE path that works for everybody.
If you want a coach to build a workout program and diet plan that’s specific to YOUR situation, check out our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program.
Let us create a custom program specific to your goals! Learn more:
Step 4: Who is On Your Squad? (Support)
Last but not least, you need support.
Yes, I understand it’s kind of fun to be an army of one: the lone ranger trying to succeed against insurmountable odds….but it’s not necessary.
Once you decide to get in shape, want to know the best way to guarantee success?
#1) Consider making it public.
Tell your friends, start a blog, and/or inform your co-workers and ask them to keep you accountable!
Unless you like being called a quitter, you’ll probably think twice about skipping out on your workouts.
Maybe your word isn’t your bond, and you need a different kind of motivation and support to succeed.
#2) Put your money where your mouth is.
My buddy Saint said he would pay his friends $500 if he didn’t get in absolutely incredible shape for his wedding six months down the road.
Saint didn’t have $500 to lose, so he decided instead to just get in great shape…and it worked.
#3) Build your own Jedi Council.
Find people who are stronger than you and work out with them, or faster than you and run with them, or more educated than you and ask them questions.
There could even be a droid out there you’re looking for…
These are people that you can turn to when you need advice or help. If you don’t know anybody in real life, keep reading…
#4) Find a workout buddy, hire a trainer, or hire a coach)!
There are going to be days when you want to sleep in and skip your workout. There will be afternoons following a crappy day of work where all you want to do is play Halo.
Find somebody who’s at a similar level of fitness as you, and work out with them! He/she will push you on days when you’re dragging, and vice versa.
You can inspire and support each other, feed off of each other’s success, and offer up tough love when the complaining gets too much (and yes, there will be complaining).
Now, let’s say you’re the ONE person in your group of friends that wants to get in shape.
Or you’re the only person in your office who doesn’t stuff his face every day. Maybe you don’t have anybody to turn to for support or advice…
We’ve got you covered:
The Nerd Fitness community: a persistently amazing, always inspiring, never judgmental group of people who want nothing more than to help you succeed.
I have never been more excited to be part of a community.
Join our coaching program: If you like the cut of our jib, consider hiring one of our nerdy trainers to keep you accountable and answer any questions you have.
I’ve been working with an online trainer for 4+ years now and it’s the best money I spend each month.
Work with an online personal trainer and get results that actually last. Learn more:
Real Talk: How Quickly can I get in Shape? How Fast Can I lose Weight?
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Pick a goal that you hope to accomplish in the next 30 days and then start working towards it.
Keep it simple but specific, and get started today.
But I know your next question: “How fast can I get in shape, Steve?”
We have a full article right here answering that question, but I’ll give you the short honest answer here:
You can expect to lose around 1-2 pounds per week safely if you start reducing your calorie intake (80% of equation) and moving more (20% of the equation).
I know there are absurd diets like the Military Diet that says “Lose 10 pounds in 7 days!” But don’t believe it.
Temporary changes create temporary results!
And our goal is for you to be slightly healthier today than you were yesterday.
And then healthier and happier next year compared to this year.
It means you should be thinking in terms of Years and Days, not weeks and months:
Instead of asking “How quickly can I lose weight?” instead ask “What do I need to do to build the right habits NOW so they become automatic LATER?”
- Do a few push-ups.
- Go for a walk.
- Eat a vegetable.
Join the Rebellion – start fixing your nutrition with small changes today.
If you just finished reading these 2,500 words and you’re still overwhelmed, you’re not alone!
This stuff overwhelms the best of us. If you are looking for a bit more hands-on instruction, or you really want the peace of mind knowing that you’re doing the correct program, I got ya!
We have two options that have both helped thousands upon thousands of people like you get started:
#1) Most involved: Our 1-on-1 coaching program where a NF coach will get to learn your situation, your lifestyle, and your experience, and then build a workout program and nutritional strategy that fits into your busy life.
We get to know you better than you know yourself, and we’ve got the results to prove it! Consider checking out our coaching program if you’re looking for that next level of expert guidance and accountability.
Our coaching program is like having Yoda in your pocket (not literally). Learn more:
#2) Go-At-Your-Own-Pace, Do It Yourself: the Nerd Fitness Academy. This is our online course with 50,000+ students.
Tons of bodyweight workout plans (no gym required), a 10-level nutritional system, HD video demonstrations of each exercise, boss battles, a full questing system, more than a dozen more workouts, and a full guide on how to eat properly, check out!
Big things come from small beginnings, so pick the tiniest change or action you can take to get started, and then repeat that every day.
As you start to build the habit, you can increase the ‘difficulty’ and try something a bit more challenging, but it all starts with habit building.
Educate yourself, find your inspiration, and create your support group.
Welcome to the Rebellion.
photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo
Do I need a gym membership?
The simplest answer is NO, you don’t NEED a gym membership. The only thing you need to have a successful healthy lifestyle is consistency. Your workouts should occur where you are motivated to consistently workout in a safe and effective manner. The “where” is not important as the “how often.”
Some thoughts for you to consider…
1. Your home will be a perfect workout space, if you are self motivated, want to economize time, and have a area (basement/garage) at home to provide safe, effective and fun workouts that you do on a regular basis. For an small initial investment, you can supply your home gym with ample workout equipment that will surely deliver results if you are consistent with you workouts. Ask an NASM personal trainer here on Sharecare to assist you with your purchases and putting together a safe and effective workout regime.
2. If you find motivation from being around other like minded healthy people then having a gym membership can be a good solution. Especially if you want the variety of having machines, weights and maybe even some classes to participate in. Caution: don’t get caught in all the hoopla of the amenities a gym has to offer. Focus on what will bring you to your health and fitness goals, everything else is just extras that are there to lure people into join the healthclub.
3. Get outside. A change of scenery and activity will always stimulate a workout program. Get out of the home or gym and go run or walk on the boardwalk, do some interval training in the park, go shoot some hoops, whatever makes you motivates you to move is going to make you a happier, healthier person.
According to a celebrity trainer you don’t need to go to the gym to get in shape — here’s how to do it
The INSIDER Summary:
- Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak says that going to the gym should only be used as a way to tone muscles.
- You can get fit by eating healthy and staying active outside of the gym.
- If you do go to the gym, you really only need to spend 30 minutes there at the most, since you should only be targeting certain body parts and not doing cardio.
The gym isn’t a place that most people enjoy spending hours in.
And according to celebrity trainer and nutritionist Harley Pasternak, you don’t have to in order to be fit.
Pasternak has worked with Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and Megan Fox, but his approach to fitness is something anyone — celeb or not — can conquer.
Here’s how he gets his clients in shape:
Walking is a great way to burn fat. Redd Angelo / Unsplash
Walking is the most effective way to burn fat.
Pasternak’s motto is, “you get lean in life and strong in the gym.” He says, “The gym is when you can strengthen, tone, tighten muscles. But if there’s fat covering those muscles, no one will ever seen them. And that’s what’s happening outside of the gym.”
So how do you get rid of the fat that obscures muscles? According to Pasternak, walking is the most effective method. Walking burns a higher percentage of calories from fat sources than more intense forms of cardio does, like running.
Homemade smoothies are healthy and easy to make. Osha Key / Unsplash
Eating healthy is more crucial than going to the gym.
Some people use the gym as justification for overeating or eating unhealthy foods. Unfortunately, that’s not the right way to go about exercising. Pasternak says, “If you eat poorly, there is no cardio in the world that can make up for that.”
Pasternak recommends drinking blended homemade smoothies with ingredients like fruit and veggies because they’re healthy but also easy to make.
Use the gym only if you want to tone certain body parts. Bojan Milinkov /
If you do go to the gym, you don’t have to spend much time there.
If you’re looking to take your workouts to the next level and add lean muscle tissue to your body, Pasternak recommends going to the gym — but not an insane amount. He says his clients hit the gym anywhere from three to five times a week, and the more often they go, the less time they spend there.
“Their workouts never really exceed 30 minutes because they’re not coming in for us to give them a cardio workout… They’re coming in to target certain body parts.”
Sometimes, Pasternak will give his clients just one exercise to do for the day. For example, he’ll have them do five sets of 20 reverse lunges. That will take them less than 10 minutes, and Pasternak says they’ll probably be sore for the next few days. “If you do a lot of things pretty well in your life, you really don’t need to do anything a lot,” he says.
So if you’re looking to tone, head to the gym. But if you’re just looking to stay fit in a more general sense, make sure to stay active — as opposed to sedentary — in your everyday life.
Nine reasons not to join a gym: How to get fit on the cheap
Britons spend more than £4 billion a year on gym memberships, with the average gym goer paying £40 a month, whether they get round to using their gym or not. So don’t be tempted by the sales patter and keep up with the latest ways to get fit, whether it’s outdoors, at home or with a bit of online help.
“Walking is a great way to get fit, it’s free, needs no special equipment apart from a pair of comfortable shoes and is something almost anyone can do,” says Sophia Khan, a spokesperson for the Ramblers, a charity aiming to protect and expand areas where Brits can enjoy a walk.
“You can build your stamina up, burn calories and make your heart healthier. You could add walking into regular journeys by getting off public transport a stop earlier or parking further away than you would usually. Walking up stairs burns calories, so swapping lifts for stairs is another easy way to start boosting your fitness,” she adds.
Going on long walks at weekends is a good way to increase the amount of walking you do and gives you the opportunity to explore the countryside. All you’ll need is a pair of walking boots and some waterproofs.
Numerous websites, including those from local councils, list walks across the UK. You could organise walks with groups of friends or join walks organised by clubs.
“Joining a local Ramblers group walk is an excellent way to get started. You’ll have a route all planned out for you, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost, and a friendly group of walkers to chat to along the way,” adds Ms Khan. “With walks ranging from short strolls around the park to 10-mile mountain hikes, there is something for everyone, no matter what your level of fitness. And if that’s not enough to tempt you, there’s all the wellbeing benefits of being out in the fresh air and close to nature too.”
Running is one of the best forms of exercise, particularly for your heart and lungs. All you need are some comfortable clothes and a decent pair of trainers.
Team GB ultra-marathon runner Robbie Britton (pictured) told Moneywise: “Not only is running a great way to get fit and healthy without paying for a gym membership, running with others at initiatives such as parkrun , or joining your local club, provides great social interaction too which has a significant impact on motivation to continuing training.”
If you haven’t tried running before, the Couch to 5k podcast available for free from the NHS (NHS.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week) is a popular way to get started. Once you’re comfortable running five kilometres, parkrun organises free weekly timed 5k runs in parks across the UK. All you need to do to take part is register on its website (Parkrun.org.uk) and print off a barcode.
“Running with others is sociable and helps motivate you”
Cycling is another excellent way to get fit, it gets you places and helps the environment. It is a bit more expensive to get started, but if you are working and your employer offers a Cycle to Work scheme, you can borrow the money to cover the cost of buying a tax-free bike and all the accessories you need to cycle safely and secure your bike. Repayments are taken from your salary in the same way you would pay back a season ticket loan. If you can cycle to work instead of driving or using public transport, you could also save a lot of money on your commute.
Sam Jones, senior campaigns officer at charity Cycling UK, says: “Cycling fits into daily routines better than many other forms of exercise because it doubles up as transport to work, school or the shops. It’s easier than finding extra time to visit the gym and far less costly. Your mental health and wellbeing benefit, you reduce the risk of premature death and ill health, and studies have shown cyclists are less likely to get ill – and above all, it’s fun!”
4. Bodyweight exercises
You don’t need to join a gym if you want to build muscle or increase your strength. You can get started with just your bodyweight. Some bodyweight exercises will be familiar, such as press-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups, but there are a whole range of exercises you can do without needing to buy anything. You could invest in a pull-up bar or exercise mat to use at home if you’re committed to working out.
There are more than a thousand free outdoor gyms across the UK that have equipment you can use for bodyweight exercises. To find out your nearest, visit The Great Outdoor Gym Company (Tgogc.com/Gyms/) or Wicksteed (Wicksteed.co.uk), which both supply equipment to outdoor gyms, or contact your local council.
If you’re lucky enough to live near a river, lake or the sea where you can swim safely, all you need is your swimwear. However, this time of year, you may prefer an indoor pool. To make it more affordable, contact your local council-run leisure centres and ask if they offer discounted swim-only memberships. Joining a local triathlon club can often give cheaper access to swimming sessions, although you may be expected to run and cycle as well as swim.
Yoga has surged in popularity and offers many of the same health benefits as bodyweight exercises. All you need is some comfortable clothing and some floor space, although an exercise mat or yoga mat will help. The popular YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene (Youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene) has more than 400 free videos and classes showing you everything you need to know to get started.
7. Buy your own equipment
Instead of paying for a gym membership, you could buy some cheap equipment to keep at home. A skipping rope only costs a few pounds and using it for half an hour a day can burn hundreds of calories.
Resistance bands cost a bit more but these allow you to perform many of the exercises you would do using free weights or equipment in a gym. If you are prepared to spend more and have the space at home, you could even consider buying weights. Just be careful you don’t damage your home – or yourself – when using them as dropping heavy weights can take its toll.
8. Use a ‘virtual’ personal trainer
There are benefits to getting a personal trainer, but if you can motivate yourself to exercise and are prepared to put a bit of time into learning what works well for you, then there are online resources to help you plan your workouts. Apps such as JEFIT (available on iOS and Android) let you choose a workout schedule that suits you and features more than 1,300 demonstrations of how to do exercises.
Keen gym-goer Matt, 31, from London told Moneywise how he uses JEFIT to add more structure to his workout.
“The only way to get results is to track your progress”
“The tracking feature is nice because seeing your progress in encouraging. It’s mainly good for people who want to lift. It’s no substitute for a human personal trainer, but most of us can’t afford that. If anything, it complements what a personal trainer would do, by timing and structuring your workouts. I’ve found over the years that the only way to actually get results in the gym is to be consistent and track your progress.”
There are also plenty of videos on YouTube designed to teach you how to do exercises and get your form right. All you need to do to get started is search for them.
9. Healthy lifestyle
Getting fit isn’t just about doing exercise. If you want to reap the benefits of working out then you need to combine it with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Eating less meat, fatty food, sugar and salt are all part of having a healthy diet that can save you significant amounts of money.
Dr Stacey Lockyer, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, says: “Being more active, along with consuming a healthy, balanced diet, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake reduces our risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.”
“Yoga calms the mind”
Natasha Kerry from London is an experienced yoga teacher, running classes across London and a YouTube channel (Youtube.com/natashakerryyoga) with free yoga practices.
“When I first got into yoga, I immediately found it a lot more exciting, fun, varied and inspiring than my gym membership and I promptly quit the gym,” she says.
She found yoga so useful, she quit her corporate job and has now been teaching it for a decade.
Over the years, Natasha has seen the impact Yoga has on her students.
“I have seen incredible change in my students. Yoga postures are so powerful at creating change. Yoga calms the mind, improves the mind-body connection, increases focus, improves circulation, digestion and respiration, improves coordination, regulates metabolism to aid weight loss, increases energy levels and I’ve seen massive changes to my students’ happiness, health and wellbeing,” she says.
What tips have you got for people looking to get fit? Let us know in the comments below.