Believe it or not, staying fit without a gym membership isn’t as hard as you would think.
Gyms can contain thousands of pounds worth of equipment that gets the gym floors heaving as everyone is on their way to or from work.
As a 9 to 5 worker, getting to the gym can be an absolute nightmare as I don’t particularly like large crowds of people. Personally, I want some peace and quiet after contending with a long commute and a busy office all day.
Of course, the gym is not your only option. There are some great ways to stay fit that can be done inside or outside.
Whichever you chose, you could always opt to invest in some low-cost, highly versatile equipment that can keep you pushing your workouts to the next level.
Staying Fit Outdoors
Staying fit outside has numerous benefits. The fresh air and sense of freedom you get whilst you’re running around or doing boot camps can do wonders for your mental health as well as your physical health!
Outdoor exercise ideas
Here are a few ideas that can help give you some inspiration to get exercising outside:
Go for a run
This is pretty obvious but you could simply put on your trainers and go for a slow jog — DON’T FORGET THE HIGH-VIS!
However, this may not be for everyone. Quite a lot of people who are busy working in the corporate world may not be living in the most scenic of places so a run through a concrete jungle might not be particularly appealing.
Join a Bootcamp
This sounds like something you’d do in the military and although it is loosely based around the group-like drills you’d expect a squadron to be doing – they can actually be great fun.
These are a great way to get yourself out of the house. However they aren’t free so if you’re looking for a free way to stay fit this probably isn’t for you.
Doing bootcamps can also be a good way to make new friends and can also be a great way to socialise with your current friends.
I can’t really recommend any as they would need to be specific to the area you live but if you do a quick search on Google ‘exercise bootcamps near me’, a few will come up that you can have a look at.
All you need is some open space and a skipping rope (or a jump rope for my American friends across the pond).
This extremely cost effective as you can buy really cheap speed ropes for £1-£2 from Amazon.
Skipping is super popular in the sporting industry as it can help with rehabilitation as well as having numerous other benefits.
Benefits of outdoor exercise
The way nature intended
In my opinion, doing workouts outside almost feels like it’s the only way you should workout. I can’t imagine there having been gyms centuries ago so it feels like working out, outside is how nature intended it to be done.
There is nothing quite like fresh air whilst you’re gasping for breath after a hard set or a challenging run. Additionally, you don’t have that disgusting gym smell or the body odour aromas that come wafting from the cardio equipment section of the gym.
Give yourself some ‘you’ time
With the exception of the bootcamp – exercising outside lets you go into your own personal world where you can just enjoy the music you’re listening to and push yourself to your limits.
I find that when I workout, I forget how difficult life can be and just enjoy being in the moment.
Being outdoors in general is scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. A paper published by Pei-Yi Weng (National Taiwan University) and Yen-Cheng Chaing (National Chiayi University) in 2014 suggests that outdoor activities such as just walking outside can help to relieve feelings of anxiety as a direct result of being amongst nature.
Drawbacks of outdoor exercise
This may seem like a trivial point. However, if you are as susceptible to Hayfever as I am, you would understand my feelings.
My eyes stream and my nose gets bunged up. I feel like I need to sneeze constantly and I wipe my nose so often that it often becomes red-raw by the end of the day.
If, like me, you’re in the unfortunate group of Hayfever sufferers… stay indoors.
One of the perks of living in the UK is that the weather is like a pre-pubescent child. It’s mood swings constantly and there is about 2 months of sun per year then it’s a toss-up between rainy or rainy and windy…
As a result of the unpredictable weather, it leaves you vulnerable to be exposed to the elements at very short notice.
You could be 5 miles from home on a run or in the middle of a bootcamp session and the heavens could open. Now what?… you get drenched. That’s what.
If you’re a 9 to 5 worker, even on a sunny day you might not even get the opportunity to make the most of the weather.
Early morning or late evening exercise can still leave you out in the cold (literally) as the temperature drops at these times of day.
In this day and age, everyone is conscious of their public image. People even go to the effort of trying to edit their images just to make themselves look more appealing online…
Using this logic, it would be understandable that not everyone would be comfortable exercising outside.
I live in a small village in Essex so if I were to go out for a run or doing a Bootcamp, there would be a high likelihood that I would bump into them and they would see me all hot and sweaty (probably not looking my best).
Must-have equipment for outdoor exercise
Once you’ve decided whether or not exercising outdoors is for you or not, now it’s time. To kit yourself out with the essentials so you can break a sweat:
It doesn’t specifically need to be a yoga mat – any sort of soft roll mat will do.
This is essential if you’re working out on grass. If you’re doing press ups or ab workouts then you’ll be getting down and dirty on the floor.
If you’ve brought your trusty mat with you, you don’t need to worry about whatever is crawling in the grass getting on your hands.
They don’t need to be particularly high-end but they do need to provide some arch-support for your feet.
Whether you decide to skip, run or something else, you’ll need a good, comfy pair of trainers to let you do that.
I bought myself a nice pair of Nike running trainers about 6 years ago and they’re my go-to shoes for when I go for my morning walk, do my workouts or just want to nip to the shops.
I wonder if you can guess why. Of course, it will be very hard to skip without a skipping rope.
You can pick a skipping rope up super cheap online. I use this skipping rope – I actually buy these a few at a time because if you do any of the fancy stuff or you skip A LOT, the rubber can wear down and they will eventually break.
However for under £2, you can’t go wrong.
If you shop around, you can get some of these for a very reasonable price.
You can incorporate kettlebells into all of your ab workouts (weight crunches), back workouts (single arm bent over rows), chest workouts (plate press, replacing the plate with a kettlebell), leg workouts (goblet squats) and arm workouts (bicep curls and overhead tricep extensions). This is only one example for each workout, there are so many more!
Kettlebells are probably the most versatile type of weights that you can get so I would definitely recommend getting yourself a couple of different weights.
Staying Fit Indoors
If you don’t fancy exercising outdoors, then you’ve always got the option of exercising indoors.
This section is going to be a lot different from the Outdoor ideas as you obviously will have completely different surroundings.
You won’t be able to run (unless you have a treadmill) and you won’t be able to skip (unless you’re fortunate enough to have a spacious garage).
Therefore I’m going to begin this section with the best equipment to buy first, then move onto the workouts they will enable you to do.
Must-have equipment for indoor workouts
Similar to working out outdoors, you can opt to have a dedicated mat for your workouts. This stops you from sweating all over the floor or potentially giving yourself friction burn if you’re working. outon carpet.
I personally just workout on the carpet and have had no issues with this. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone so I would include this on my must-have list as it’s definitely worth considering.
They don’t need to be particularly heavy in order to be efficient – you’ll just need to be smart about how you use them.
Rather than achieving progress through lifting heavier weights, you’ll need to prioritise keeping the movements slow, controlled and add a resistance band into the mix. This brings me onto to…
You can pick these up really cheap on Amazon (much cheaper than dumbbells) and they can be used to add resistance to virtually any movement.
I would suggest purchasing an open-ended band (1 long strip) and a looped band (with no end). The open-ended band can be tied to the handle of a dumbbell to give you extra resistance on each movement.
These aren’t commonly used but make working out much more efficient. Occlusion bands are bands that are strapped around either the tops of your legs or the tops of your arms and cut off the blood flow to the arm(s) or leg(s).
The reason this makes exercises 10x harder is because it stops oxygenated blood from getting to the muscle so you’re tiring out the muscle much quicker – it can make a 10kg weight feel like 20kg.
So if you’ve got some weights but don’t think they’re going to be heavy enough for you, get some occlusion bands and thank me later.
Indoor workout ideas
Now we’ve established what equipment you should be investing in, now I’ll show you the best ways to put them to good use. Here are a few exercises for each body part which you can use:
- Banded squats;
- Occluded banded lunges (with occlusion bands at the top of each leg); and
- Banded split-squats.
Benefits of indoor workouts
No time constraints
If you’re working out indoors, you won’t be at the mercy of the Great British (or wherever you are from) weather.
Should the weather suddenly change or if it is starting to get dark, you can still power through your workout without it being an issue.
If you’re an introvert like myself, you’re probably not confident enough to pump out your own music out-loud for everyone to hear. Personally, I don’t get why people do that… I don’t like your music, please be quiet.
However, if you’re in the comfort of your own home, you can play your music without needing to worry about irritating anyone else. Obviously, try not to annoy the neighbours but you catch my drift.
Limits your excuses
If you need to get into your compression gear, assess the weather and plan your day around when you want to exercise – there are several reasons that you can try to spin to get out of exercising.
However, if you’ve got all of the gym equipment ready in your cupboard – there is virtually no reason why you can’t exercise!
This is the reverse of the ‘Visibility’ drawback mentioned in the ‘Drawbacks of outdoor exercise’.
Exercising in your room, lounge or garage means that no-one you know will see you exercising. Of course, if you’re not living on your own then this will be true if you exercise in your bedroom.
Drawbacks of indoor exercise
Stuck in a room
Especially if you’re in the summer months, working out on a stuffy room can feel like you’re stuck in a sauna.
Although you can try opening a window for some fresh air, it’s definitely not the same as exercising outside.
Difficult to do any cardiovascular exercise
Obviously, part of exercising is the cardiovascular endurance element. If you’re not a keen fan of weight training then you’re probably going to opt for the cardio exercising such as running or skipping.
If you’re living in a house or a flat, you’re going to really struggle to do any of these things indoors, unless you invest a lot of money into a treadmill. Even then it will be difficult to fit into a room!
The only solution would be a relatively cheap exercise bike. They’re much smaller than a treadmill – however, they’re not extremely cheap and also storage would need to be considered.
There are so many reasons why working out in your home is such a great thing. However, being confinde to a room to exercise on your own can be very isolating.
In an article published by ONS, they revealed that 5% of adults admitted to feeling lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’. To put this in perspective, the population of the UK is 66.6 million meaning approximately 3.3 million people are lonely.
This is just a rough estimate but that may suggest trying to exercise in a group or just out in public may be better for you than staying at home.
Ultimately, it’s going to be up to you to determine how you want to exercise – however there are SOOOO many ways to keep fit without having to shell out for a gym membership or have to worry about how busy the gym is going to be.
I hope this article helps and if you’ve got anything to add, please feel free to leave a comment!
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