I have a confession: I don’t have a gym membership. In fact, I haven’t for over a year now. Initially it was because I was travelling and moving countries and wasn’t in a place long enough to get one, then it was because I didn’t have a lot of extra funds to spend on one. But now it’s because I’ve figured out how to be fit without one. It helps that I’m a runner, and that covering 80-100 km per week keeps you pretty fit. But over the last little while I’ve focused on other fitness (i.e. more than just cardio), and figured out that I am doing just fine without the monthly $200 expense. Some day I will be back as a gym member, but for now, there’s lots to be done at home!
Go to free/cheap classes – Check out all the local studios in your area and look into the classes they offer. Many studios will have promos going on where they offer classes cheaper or free, or do a karma class where you pay a low fee which is donated back to the community. Often studios will have special classes happening around specific holidays or local events, or if it is the club’s birthday for example. Also look into your community or city calendar for free classes that may be offered around the town. Sometimes it is to promote a certain event or company, or just to encourage active living in the community. Start looking and see what you come up with!
Get a yoga mat – If there was one piece of equipment I would say you should get, it would be a yoga mat. Not only can you use it for any of the free yoga classes you get to go to, but it can become your floor mat at home for everything from ab exercises to stretching to planks and pushups. I have also started doing my own at-home yoga practice regularly, and it is obviously essential for doing yoga!
Use the playground – From pull-ups to TRX to pushups, the playground just down your street is for more than just child’s play. Go for a 30 minute run tomorrow and then stop at the playground on your way back. Use the monkey bars to do some pullups and the swings to do a TRX workout that will leave your legs and arms burning! Then, head over to the benches beside the playground and roll out some tricep dips, push ups and step ups. Before you know it you’re sweating up a storm and you’ve added 20 minutes onto your workout time! Don’t have a playground around? Go for a run, and then just find an open sports field or common area and use the grass to do a workout. Try this HIIT workout, or this one for double duty. And don’t forget your abs!
Use the stairs/hills – Whenever I was travelling in a city or area that wasn’t very runner friendly (i.e. on the side of a freeway, really tiny town etc.), I would find a hill or a set of stairs and just go at it. Do 12 hill repeats, completing 20 pushups and 20 squats at the top of each. Run 20 times up and down the stairs, stopping every five times to plank for a minute and do lunges. Better yet, find a hill near a playground, and do your hill repeats and then hit up the playground for some of the suggestions above! You can get a great workout in with only a hill or stairs involved, and if you need some inspiration to get you started, here’s some hill workouts to try!
Do bodyweight exercises – When I first started trying to build strength, this was perhaps my number one go to for at home workouts – and it’s harder than you think. Everything from pushups to burpees, to plank and tricep dips are easy to do at home and can give you a really great workout when you do them properly. Aim to create a workout that you can do as an HIIT (high intensity intervals), or that you can do for time (do as many reps as you can in a certain amount of time). This ensures you get cardio, and are working hard and building muscle. Here’s a great bodyweight HIIT workout that targets your arms!
Invest in some dumbbells or kettlebells – Although not essential (you can continue to do bodyweight exercises and still continue to challenge yourself), If you want to take your workouts to the next level, invest in a set of dumbbells. It allows you to do weighted exercises such as lunges and squats, and means you can do more progressive workouts to target your arms and upper body. I was really happy doing just bodyweight exercises initially, but when I was ready for the next challenge, we invested in some adjustable dumbbells. Now that we have them, I use them for upper body, legs, circuit workouts and abs, and am really pleased with the new addition to our at home gym!
Do Circuits and Repeats – Think an exercise is too easy? Repeat it 20 times, do that with seven other exercises and then repeat the whole thing 2 more times. The key to having success with bodyweight workouts or at home workouts is turning them into high intensity intervals (HIIT), or circuit training, where you have minimal breaks and exert maximal effort. Find a sequence of exercises, repeat each 10-20 times, depending on what it is, (i.e. 10 burpees, 20 squats) and then try the sequence a couple more times. As you get fitter, you can add more reps and more sets, or do it for time and see if you can do it faster each week.
Find an at-home workout program – There are tonnes of free, or very cheap at-home workout programs on the web which you can follow and let them take you through a 12 week transformation. They are often designed specifically for individuals choosing to work out at home and require minimal equipment. Kayla Itsines 12 week program comes to mind, as does Blogilates if you are looking for a place to start. Have a look through Pinterest and you’ll find lots of options. Not interested in following a complete program? You’ve probably also seen the workout pins which include images and explanation for a full workout all in one pin. Start saving some of these, choose one each day of the week and you’ll have a great variety and be well on your way to getting fit.
Working out at home becomes about challenging yourself and making yourself accountable. Don’t let yourself slack off or fall below what you’re really capable of. Push yourself and you’ll see results! No gym required!
Want more? Need some more information or some workouts to get you started? Check out the links above and then go to these: