Tuesday, February 4, 2020

10 Workout Options That Don't Require a Gym Membership

10 Workout Options That Don't Require a Gym Membership

The gym isn't for everyone... It just isn't and in my humble opinion, there's nothing wrong with that. I stopped going to the gym a while ago in favour of other fitness options and I haven't regretted it one bit. While I'll be the first to admit that I now invest a lot more money into my fitness than I did when I had a £25 a month gym membership, I can also proudly say I've gotten more bang for my buck. I actually work out a lot more than I ever have, so the increased spend is worth it to me.

black workout look

While a gym membership is a luxury, it's unfortunately not the most motivational way to spend time and money for a lot of people. Since I work for myself, I find it a bit difficult to try to motivate myself for anything else... When I'm working out, I do a lot better with someone else in charge. It's one of the things I can delegate, so really all I have to do is show up. Whether you're looking for an alternative to a gym membership, trying to find something that doesn't involve a contract or commitment or simply looking to add something new for your routine, there are lots of things to try. Here are a few suggestions...

latin dancing competition
1. Dance
If you follow me on Instagram, it's no secret that I love dancing. I've danced for most of my life in some form or another and it's something I found myself going back to a few years ago as a way to increase my fitness. I enjoy it and rarely leave a class, private lesson or workshop without feeling sore, tired, sweaty and truly worked - I've even seen some pretty great weight loss results, which isn't suprising since you tend to use all the muscle groups in your body for most types of dancing. If you live in a small town, it might be tricky to find a dance class you like, but for those of you living in cities, check out Google and look for adult classes. Most studios offer classes for absolute beginners, so don't worry if you aren't experienced. There are plenty of options available from classics like ballet, tap & jazz to more modern forms of dance like street, commercial, contemporary, dancehall or hip-hop. If you're not sure where to start, think about the music you like and let that guide your search. However you get started, a bit of trial and error is necessary to find the classes that suit you best, so just get started and if you're trying Latin or ballroom dances, don't worry if you're flying solo - you won't require a partner for most classes. Many studios offer pay-as-you go classes & memberships while others require you to sign up for a course of classes, but in my experience, they are rarely long-term commitments either way. The bonus is that you'll probably make a few new friends while you improve your dancing skills.

2. Yoga
Yoga has become so popular that it's hard to throw a stone and not hit a studio or venue that hosts at least one class. Many companies and organisations are beginning to offer yoga, so if you work for a big company, keep your eye out for this option or suggest it to your HR team. Likewise, many fitness brands like Lululemon or Sweaty Betty for example, offer free or affordable yoga classes in-store or in public areas, so those are also options. Relaxing, centring and great for core strength, there are several different styles of yoga to choose from and you can practice in a class or privately at home or in a studio with an instructor. Alternatively you can join a yoga studio programme if you're really dedicated and there are retreats, festivals and yoga-centric holidays a plenty for you to take advantage of. Yoga is often taught inside, outside, on the beach or on rooftops and you can find them all over the world, so you won't have to go without while you're traveling. It's a win-win.

Pilates Circuit Wandsworth
Photo taken at Pilates Circuit in Wandsworth (gifted opportunity)

3. Reformer Pilates

Reformer pilates uses a machine with adjustable weighted springs. I've now been taking reformer classes regularly for almost a year. Great for core strength, flexibility, posture and so many other things, reformer Pilates is available in both a class setting or privately. Both classes and private lessons tend to be on the pricey side, but if you're on a budget there are usually intro deals to most studios, membership options and some studios are available on ClassPass. Either way you slice it, reformer pilates is one of the more costly options on this list, but from what I've heard, it can be totally worth it, especially if you have any body issues, injuries or problems you specifically need to address.

4. Walking/Hiking
I love a good long walk and when I'm near a hill of any kind, I'll hike it. Going for a long jaunt is the perfect way to explore a new area, enjoy some fresh air and get the blood pumping. I personally choose a long walk anytime I can over public transportation since I can't always get as much exercise as I'd like when life and work get in the way. Aside from having some appropriate shoes, it doesn't cost a thing and it's something you can make a day of if you want to... Walk a long distance to a lovely pub for a drink and walk back, pack a picnic and go exploring, choose a park to walk through or simply get outside wherever you are to enjoy some beautiful scenery. If you need to incorporate this into your regular routine, schedule walks or hikes during the weekend, walk to/from work or at least partially if you can, go for a walk during lunch or stroll off your dinner every evening. Additionally, choose stairs over elevators, park your car in the last spot in the lot and supplement your fitness routine with a few extra steps whenever and wherever you can. With Fitbits, various apps and Apple Watches, you can track your progress and you'll be surprised how quickly you can work your way up from 1 mile to 20 miles.

5. Spinning
Spinning classes are usually offered in most gyms, but more recently this popular cycling workout option has begun to migrate to individual studios like Soul Cycle in the USA or Boom Cycle and Psycle here in London. With loud music, lights and a motivating instructor, these group classes are becoming an increasingly popular way to get fit. Choose a studio option with a pay-as-you go plan and never step foot in that gym you hate so much again.

6. Barre Fitness
Based on ballet, Barre Fitness is a hardcore workout class. I recently tried a 20 minute excerpt from a Barre Fitness class and I was sore for a fair few days afterwards. It's hard, fun and very popular at the moment, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a class nearby unless you live in a really small town. In that case I'm sure you can find an online version to do at home. The bonus is that all the fitness brands are now making really cute clothes for Barre Fitness, so you can invest in a fun, new workout wardrobe if you fancy!

7. Bootcamp
I'm not brave enough to do a bootcamp class, but I've watched a few of them before and they look great if you're up for the challenge. If you really want to push yourself, but you find it hard to motivate on your own, this might be the option for you. Many of these classes are done outdoors, while others take place in studios like Barry's Bootcamp, which boasts a burn of 1,000 calories per session.

8. Join a Sports Team
Look online for local teams that play a sport you enjoy for fun. Whether it be an organisation or a local pub that has a team, you can make friends and get active doing something you really enjoy. If neither of those options exist near you, consider starting up a team or a league through your work, your church or with your friends. Plenty of people have a group of friends that have a pick-up game of basketball every week, so there's no reason why you can't start one as well if you can find others who'd want to join. Chances are if you want to do something, there are others who'd enjoy it as well. Little known fact about me... I briefly played softball on an Irish pub's team when I lived in New York. I was the only girl on the team and couldn't play softball worth a dime, but I had so much fun!

9. Online Classes
If you live in a tiny town, online classes are ideal. You can choose something with little or no commitment - there are even options on YouTube. Alternatively, you can invest in something a bit more focused. With the internet, we no longer need gyms or classes to get the fitness levels we want and the bonus with something like this is that you can do it while you travel.

10. Trampoline Fitness
Trampoline Fit classes seem to be everywhere lately and they look like a lot of fun. Whether you sign up to a course, go to pay-as-you go classes or simply join one of the many trampoline parks that are popping up everywhere (many of them with child-free fitness time tables), if you love to bounce this might be the workout for you.

Depending on what you would typically pay for a gym membership, you could do a number of combinations within the same budget. If your membership is quite cheap each month, perhaps it's worth thinking about increasing the monetary investment you make in your personal fitness so you can get more joy out of it. ClassPass or similar plans might be a good option for you in this case and will allow you to try out a bunch of different options to see what you like best. If you pay quite a lot, divide it into weekly sums to see how many classes you can afford and supplement those with the cheaper or free options like starting a weekly basketball game, doing an online class or going for a long walk on days you don't have the classes. Whatever you choose, it is possible to vary your routine, enjoy yourself, get fit and quit the gym if you hate it. It's simply a matter of finding some options that work for your schedule, fit within your budget and then making a plan.

* If you live in London, click here to read about some fitness options that are totally free and don't involve going to the gym.

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