8 Cheap and Fun Ways to Get Fit Without Going to the Gym

Why force yourself to go to the gym, when the world around you can be your gym?

Are you someone who wants to get fit but doesn't have either the time or money to regularly go the gym? Or do you have a gym membership but rarely use it? Or is it that you secretly hate the gym but force yourself to go anyway? The strong smell of sweat, people using the weird machines expertly that you have no idea how to use, the mere fact people will see you exercising or (dare I say) sweating. What could be worse?! There are many reasons you may not want to go to the gym but what if I said you don't have to in order to tone up and shift the pounds? This article will share various other ways you can get fit, some from the comfort of your own home.

I have to admit, I get nervous and quite self-conscious when I go to a gym because I am not very fit (although I think three minutes on a rowing machine is fine in the summer!). For that reason (and because I am lazy) I like to do most of my exercising indoors with me, myself, and I. There are no judgements and I don't feel any kind of pressure. I enjoy it more. This leads to the most important thing with exercising, finding a method you enjoy. I thought I hated exercising until I discovered Zumba. Now I focus on dance workouts because I enjoy dancing; I don't think of it as exercise.

Enjoyment is important to making something become a habit, but motivation is key. Find the reason you want to get fit and keep it at the forefront of your mind. Do you want to tone up or lose weight? Is it for aesthetic reasons? Do you want to improve your health? Whatever your reason, it is important to you and will guide you to your end goal if you want it enough. Don’t give up because it’s hard and don’t ever feel threatened by other people. Everyone starts from somewhere. There once was an aspiring bodybuilder who could only spend three minutes on a rowing machine before dying of exhaustion, but now she’s able to easily spend thirty minutes on it before starting her actual workout. With determination and resilience, she made it, and you will too!

It is important to note that not everyone will benefit from the same exercises. Height, weight, and intensity all contribute to the number of calories lost and fat burnt. Some people may find that dancing works best for them whereas others may find brisk walking does more for them. Find what works for you, do not worry about anyone else.

So, what are some of the different methods of getting fit without going to a gym?

1 – Apps

Apps are not really a method but they are one of the best things to have happened to this world. You can get an app for almost anything, including exercise. There are several HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and LIIT (Low Intensity Interval Training) specific apps. Some focus on specific body parts whilst others target it all. There are also aerobics, bootcamp, dance, yoga, and running apps. There is an app for everyone and every type of exercise!

The thing to note with apps is they are not always free or compatible with your device. Many apps are free to download but you can only access certain features without paying for a subscription. This begs the question, is it better than a gym membership if you still have to pay? That's up to you to decide, but to contrast, many apps are 100 percent free and are like virtual classes with trainers who show you each move whilst encouraging you every step of the way. You can do the workout wherever you want but still receive the same quality of the workout.

2 – Sports

If you enjoy sports, you should consider joining a sports club or encourage a few of your friends to regularly play with you and form your own team. It's cheap, fun and there are so many to choose from, what's not to like? It burns fat, tones your body and can encourage social interactions. Teamwork is sought after when it comes to employment, so playing a team sport may help in more ways than one.

All sports get you fit, including slower paced ones such as golf, but they all help in different ways. Swimming is argued to be the best sport for a full body workout; it builds endurance whilst you fight against the water pressure and burns the most calories. Football is physically very demanding and strengthens your muscles. Taekwondo develops discipline and trains both your mind and body. All three of these sports, plus many others, can burn between 400 and 1000 calories in an hour.

3 – Boxing

Boxing is a full-on cardio and strength workout which tones every muscle. It strengthens your body and improves your balance and co-ordination. It is also good for relieving stress and letting out your anger. Most people have someone they would love to punch, so why not live out your fantasy on a punching bag? (Kidding! I do not advocate violent thoughts.) You can burn between 400 and 800 calories in an hour.

4 – Cycling

This is one of the best ways to simultaneously build muscle and burn calories fast. It is also a welcomed alternative to squats to tone your bum. It helps you get from A to B quickly, improves the quality of your sleep and, like most other forms of exercise, improves your overall well-being. You don’t even need to be riding a bike outdoors to reap the benefits; a stationary bike indoors works just as well. You can burn between 400 and 1000 calories in an hour cycling at an intense pace. Just be careful not to overwork yourself too quickly as you might pull a muscle.

5 – Dancing

If you enjoy dancing, try turning it into a workout. You can take dance classes, use an app anywhere you go or dance around to your favourite songs at no cost. It makes your whole body stronger; targeting the core, arms, legs, glutes, and back. It also improves your mood and helps to clear your mind. Depending on your body size and intensity level, you can burn between 250 and 500 calories in an hour, whilst toning up.

One of my favourite ways to exercise is following dance workouts and routines on YouTube. It is free and available 24/7. There are many videos to choose from, everything from learning how to salsa with a professional to burning fat in an aerobic dance workout. You can also put on your favourite music videos and just dance along without anyone watching. Channel your inner Michael Jackson in "Thriller," Beyonce in "Single Ladies" or Kylie Minogue in "Can't Get You Out of My Head."

6 – Yoga and Pilates

This is my personal favourite way to exercise. Deep breathing and stretching works wonders for your strength and balance. It is a 'slow-burner,' meaning it will take longer to see results, so if you want quick results this is not the method for you. However, overtime you should notice your flexibility increasing, headaches (and other pains) decreasing, and stress levels lowering. Yoga also has a positive effect on the brain, helping with depression and sleep. A bonus with yoga is certain poses help to relieve intestinal gas, which I have found very useful as someone with IBS, and period pains.

There are different types of yoga, all of which burn different amounts of calories and improve your body in different ways. Here is an estimate of how many calories you can burn an hour from each:

Hatha – 190 calories

Ashtanga (power) – 350 calories

Bikram – 480 calories

Vinyasa – 600 calories

Pilates mainly strengthen your muscles, which helps with the maintenance of a healthy weight. The benefits are very similar to those of yoga but there is more of an emphasis on core strength and general fitness and well-being. An hour of Pilates can burn between 360 and 460 calories per hour if done at an intermediate or advanced level.

7 - Walking and Jogging

Going for a jog or a brisk walk is a great way to raise your heartbeat and burn fat, in turn making you healthier. It is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get fit. You could walk to your location, get off a bus/train stop early or park your car further away than you would ordinarily. This will force you to walk, hence make you exercise. Another great way to increase the amount you walk is to go shopping. Don’t underestimate the power of carrying things plus walking around shops, especially in heels. You can burn between 180 and 400 calories from an hour of walking and even more jogging.

Listening to music can be a positive distraction for your body. It helps you find a rhythm and keep up with the pace. It is recommended for adults to get at least 150 minutes a week of exercise, walking included. Another tip is jogging on the spot. You do not need to be on a treadmill or physically moving to successfully shed the pounds whilst jogging. I like to jog on the spot most nights to get my heart racing before I climb into bed. It usually gives me a good night’s sleep and I wake up feeling good.

8 - Home Gym

I don't know how good an alternative this is to the gym but you could buy your own equipment and set up a small home gym. The initial investment might be expensive, depending on what you buy, but it is still likely to be cheaper than the monthly cost of a gym membership and it is entirely on your own terms. You would never have to wait to use one of the bikes ever again and you will only have the equipment you like, the dream!

There are three ways you can do this: cheap and small equipment, the popular machines, or a mix of both. The results can be as good as each other, it’s all about how you use the equipment. I have a mix in my house to vary my exercise. I use a twist board to slim my waist down (which was £10), dumbbells for my arms and abs (which were also around £10), a stationary bike for my legs (which my parents already had) and a rowing machine to work my whole body (which my parents also already had). I sometimes use the stairs or chairs to aid a short workout instead of buying anything else. Skipping is another hidden gem; you can burn up to 700 calories in one hour with a £5 skipping rope.

So there are some of my favourite alternatives to going to the gym, all tried and tested. Were there any that inspired or surprised you? Please do comment below to let me know what you think or if I've forgotten anything.

TTFN (ta-ta for now)

Shanice x

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