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40 Ways to Stay Fit Without a Gym Membership

by Kyle Tuttle

Girl doing pushups

There are quite a few reasons to skip out on a gym membership &#151 it's expensive, you don't have the time for it, there isn't one in your area, or you might just feel uncomfortable working out in front of all those people. Whatever it is, you don't necessarily have to settle for being unfit just because you can't go to the gym. Here are 40 ways you can stay fit without having to be a member of your local gym:

    1. One of the most important keys to fitness is getting good cardio. The great part is, the only equipment you really need to get your blood pumping is attached to the ends of your legs. Jogging is the simplest way to get some cardio exercise done, and all you need is your feet, some comfortable shoes, and some space to jog in.

    2. Invest in a good pair of dumbbells, ideally one with adjustable weight. They're extremely flexible, as you can do a great variety of exercises with them and target almost every muscle group in your body. You'll get a lot of bang for your buck, considering how expensive home gym equipment can be. Visit this site for a helpful set of instructions for dumbbell exercises.

    3. You might think push-ups were invented by army drill sergeants as a way to torture new recruits, but they really are a fantastic exercise for your upper body, strengthening your chest, arm, and shoulder muscles. The proper way to do basic push-ups is to keep your palms shoulder-width apart, and your legs and torso as stiff as a board. Lower yourself until your face is about a couple of inches away from the floor, and then push yourself back up until your arms are straight.

    4. Crunches are another standby exercise, replacing conventional sit-ups which may be harmful to your back. Simply lie down with your knees bent and your feet planted firmly on the floor. Using nothing but your abdominal muscles, raise your chest off the floor a few inches, and then bring yourself back down. Repetition is the key when it comes to crunches, so try to do at least 25 reps per set. Once things start getting easier, increase the number of reps until you start feeling the burn again.

    5. Want to tone your legs and buttocks? Find a flight of stairs to run on. Go up as fast as you can, then walk back down. Doing this repeatedly will give your lower body a good workout. Just make sure no one catches you if you try this at the office.

    6. Squats are a great way to work your thighs and buttocks. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then bend at the knees until your thighs are just about parallel to the floor. Hold the squat position for a couple of seconds before bringing yourself back up.

    7. Although bears are typically seen as heavy, lumbering animals, bear crawls are an exercise that actually helps improve your agility. Check out this video for instructions on how to do this workout.

    8. Why not learn a new skill while getting a good cardio and abdominal workout? The art of belly dancing will help you tone that tummy of yours and improve your overall fitness. Follow these links toPart 1 and Part 2 of a helpful instructional video. It works for both men and women, but the guys should be warned - a lot people find belly dancing men a little awkward to look at.

    9. Yoga has long been considered an excellent, low-impact way of improving one's fitness. However, chances are that if you can't get to a gym, you probably can't attend a yoga class. It's a good thing that you can practice yoga in the comfort of your own home, thanks to online instructional videos. Follow this link to a YouTube playlist of beginners' yoga exercises.

    10. Strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks with wall squats. Start by standing with your back against the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly bring your rear end closer to the ground, with your back still pressed against the wall, until your thighs are just about parallel to the floor. Hold this position for as long as you can, then lower yourself slowly down to the floor. Try to beat your time with each rep.

    11. If you can, go for bike rides in the park. It's a fantastic way of getting some fresh air while working on your cardio and lower body. As an added bonus, you get to people-watch too.

    12. Break out the old baseball or football, grab a friend, and play a little catch. You'll find yourself huffing and puffing after while thanks to the great cardio.

    13. If you've got one of those large exercise balls at home, you can give your core a good workout by sitting on one. As you try to keep your balance, your core muscles will natural tense and relax. This is one workout you can do while killing time in front of the TV.

    14. It's no surprise that Michael Phelps has an amazing body &#151 swimming is an excellent full-body workout. The water provides natural resistance to your movements, and swimming lets you exercise in your full range of motion. You can beat the heat and get an awesome workout at the same time just by hopping into the pool and doing a few laps.

    15. If you have a dog, taking it out for more walks is a fun way of increasing your aerobic activity. Don't own a pooch? Offer to walk your neighbor's or friend's.

    16. Simply walking is a good enough cardio workout, especially for those looking to get some cardio in. However, walking itself doesn't have to be simple. Here are seven ways to enhance your walking, so you can make the most out of your stroll.

    17. Those looking for more challenging workouts can check out these two programs. The exercises here can be done with minimal (if any) equipment, meaning you don't need to head to the gym for a demanding exercise session.

    18. Got kids? Take them out to the park for a friendly game of tag. Not only is it fun, but you'll be getting plenty of exercise at the same time. Plus, it gets your kids to work out, too!

    19. For another good core exercise, try doing planks. Position your forearms flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Keep your body rigid, with only your toes and forearms touching the floor. The idea is to support your body solely with your core muscles. Just like in wall squats, hold the position for as long as you can, and then try to beat your previous time with each new rep.

    20. While it doesn't happen often enough to become regular exercise, you can always be to your friends' go-to person if furniture needs to be moved around. The tables, TVs and other pieces can be your weights, as you lift and push and rearrange the home. If you don't have anyone to help out, you can always work on your own home &#151 if you don't mind an ever-changing layout, that is!

    21. Crank up the music and just dance around. Move with the music &#151 the faster and wilder, the better. Just make sure nobody sees you and thinks you're possessed, okay?

    22. For an incredibly high-impact leg and core workout, you can try doing tuck jumps. Many professional athletes do this to increase the height of their jumps, and the explosive power of their movements. Beginners, however, should take it easy on this exercise to avoid doing any damage to the body.

    23. Go on a good, long hike up a hill or mountain. The higher you climb, the better your workout. At the end, you'll be rewarded with a fantastic view.

    24. Indulge your Rocky fantasies and do a bit of shadow boxing. It's surprisingly good exercise, helping you tone most major muscle groups in your body.

    25. Here's something you can do to get some amazing abs: lie flat on the ground, head propped up on a pillow, and raise your legs a few inches off the ground while watching television. See how long you can make it, and then try to go longer the next time. You can even make a game of it by seeing how many commercial breaks you can get through in a single rep.

    26. The lower back is often ignored during exercises, and yet it's one of the most vital muscle areas, providing support to your upper body. Follow the tips in this video for some easy lower back exercises you can do at home.

    27. Who needs expensive gym equipment when your body weight gives you all the resistance you need? Check out this video for a complete body weight exercise routine from a professional trainer.

    28. Whether you're looking for some quality time with your family, or for a place to take your special date to, the skating rink offers a lot of fun and physical activity. Roller- or ice-skating provides oodles of aerobic exercise, and gives your legs a decent workout.

    29. Surprisingly enough, working on your garden makes for some good exercise. Think about it &#151 all that bending and pulling and pushing and lifting can get pretty tiring! Regular gardening will help you tone your body, while at the same time making your garden look great. You'll probably get a decent tan, too!

    30. Remember how, in Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi would train Daniel by making him do household chores? Giving your house and furniture a good cleaning can be quite a workout. Not only will you be getting some exercise done, but you'll also get the benefits of a very clean home the more often you do this.

    31. Pick up a basketball and shoot some hoops. Whether you're playing with some buddies or by yourself, the constant running, jumping, and shooting will add up for an excellent workout.

    32. Can't get to the gym because work takes up all your time? That's no excuse for not getting any exercise done. Take a look through this list of exercises you can do right in front of your desk. It's pretty handy for those dull days at the office, or for taking quick breaks from work.

    33. They have rowing machines in the gym, so why not do the real thing? Rowing is a fun way to get a good workout, no matter what sort you're doing. You can try it as a leisurely activity, such as rowing on a date; or you can go for the hardcore team-oriented sport known as dragonboat rowing. Whichever you choose, the activity will work a lot of major muscle groups, including the arms, shoulders, and upper back.

    34. Whenever you've got errands to do away from home, try walking or biking your way there instead of taking the car. Your lungs, heart, and lower body will thank you for it.

    35. Pilates advocates will tell you it changed their lives. That just might be true, since the exercise trend is a fantastic way of burning fat and improving your general fitness. If you can't attend a class, this video will put you up to speed on the basics.

    36. Many people attribute their well-toned physiques to a healthy sex life. They're probably not kidding, as sexual intercourse is a well-documented means of effectively burning calories. Sex is apparently such good exercise that Fitness Magazine has provided a list of sex positions that can double as exercise. The article can be found here, but keep in mind that some people might find the illustrations NSFW.

    37. Grab a chair and do some dips. Turn your back to the chair and place your palms on the seat. Your elbows should be shoulder-width apart, straight, and your fingers should be facing forward. Stretch your legs out a few feet in front of you, and then bend your elbows to about a 90-degree angle. This will lower your body and make your butt hover just a few inches off the floor. Straighten your arms again (but don't lock your elbows!), using your triceps to lift your body weight. Start this exercise with three sets of ten reps, and increase the reps once things get easier.

    38. Kill two birds with one stone &#151 find a new hobby and get some rigorous cardiovascular training by taking up marathon running. It'll build your stamina, tone your body, and provide more than enough aerobic exercise. You may just find that pushing the limits of your endurance to be an ecstatic feeling as well.

    39. A lot of people have used the Nintendo Wii as an exercise aid, since many of its games involve a lot of physical movement. In fact, you can get a Wii Fit system designed specifically for this purpose. Who said video games kept you from exercising?

    40. Total fitness involves working out your entire body. You can do that without ever having to go to the gym, so long as you know the right exercises. This helpful video series teaches you how to get a full body workout, as designed by a professional fitness trainer.

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{ 12 comment… read it below or add one }

The Mind Relaxer January 31st, 2010
Wow, that's a very long list you got there. Anyways, it's really awesome to have the right attitude and determination because it'll keep you going even though you don't have all the materials you need. Nice Post!
Malcolm Duff February 7th, 2010
Hi, British bloke here. Thanks for these tips. I do appreciate the effort that it must have taken to write. If you are advocating taking up a hobby (#38) I would like to make you aware of trampolining. It must be "up there" in the muscle groups that it challenges. I really agree with #30. I run a small Bed & Breakfast - I do all the cleaning washing, hoovering, cooking, ironing etc. myself. That is a workout! However, and you knew it was coming, I feel I must take issue with a few points; #10. "try to beat your time with each rep". Time to do what? Timed from when to when? The exercise includes "Hold this position for as long as you can". Well to beat your time just hold it for a shorter length of time. Or did you mean that "beat your time" is to hold it for longer? (Same with #19) Do tell. Some of us are beginners. #37. I can't see how anyone can have their palms on a chair facing forwards (the palms) and have their "back to the chair" whilst also having their "butt hover just a few inches off the floor". I need to see a diagram. Did you mean; "butt hover just a few inches off the chair"? I really hope so. You use terms such as "cardio", "reps" and "abs". What are these? Do people go out of an evening and say; "Yeah, I'll have two abs and a rep please - with a side salad - Oh! Hold the cardio." Do you not think that people who understand these terms will already know all of what you write? I reckon that you need to figure out your audience. Are they beginners? If so, you need to explain more - some poor man or woman is still trying to get his/her butt on the floor whilst still keeping their back to the chair and palms facing forward! Dislocated shoulders are in their future..... If your target audience is intermediate then you have explained too much. They surely know all this. Anyway, thanks for the tips. Oh! Try #37 without a chair. i.e. On the floor. Not so far to fall then eh? Mind, this would not be "dips" - but then, neither was #37 - just see if you can get your butt and heels off the floor and keep them there for 5 or 10 seconds - this also has a lot to do with balance and centre of gravity (yes, its centre not center), which, I have noticed, almost all "fitness trainers" ignore. Have you ever seen an olympic gymnast ignore balance? Yeah, she did well didn't she? Byeeee Malcolm
Khiyo February 7th, 2010
I find swimming a good way to exercise. Can you give me some tips when doing it... Thanks!
Jam February 7th, 2010
I usually ride my bike; then go swimming where ever I can; I like get around town using no gas, it helps keep me in shape and it saves me money at the same time!
Art Jury February 8th, 2010
I agree with the fellow above about the terms. Tae Kwon Do is a great work out, we also do wall sits without the wall, looks funny but works well. Swimming is great! Best tip I know is do it as much as you can but avoid chlorine, salt water pools use much less than most pools.
Fotografia eventowa February 8th, 2010
This is an interesting article. However, most people would just stick to one or two exercises. My choice number one is riding a bike.
John February 8th, 2010
All of these ideas are outstanding ways to get that workout and an intense one at that. At the end of the day you really don't have to spend a dime to get in really good exercise.
Gary February 9th, 2010
I like it. At the end of the day the key is to move your body and gym is just one of the places you can move your body. I like the desk exercises #32 so you can think of your health and do something and not just Google it.
Kirsti February 17th, 2010
Re: #8 if you've never seen a guy who's GOOD at middle eastern dance (belly dance) then they look awkward. A male friend of mine is a teacher of middle eastern dance, and a mutual (male) friend of ours is a dancer, and both are amazing (and very sexy) to watch!
Debbie February 17th, 2010
Thanks for the tips on exercising. I really am not one for the gym. I do have a stationery bike. Do these really help? And how many minutes does one nedd to ride per week for it to help? Debbie
Spare Keys Info February 20th, 2010
Great info. I will follow instructions and will let you know what works best for me. Thanks
patrick.kallie@yahoo.com December 19th, 2010
I have never been the type to go to the gym. Their just seems to be so many distractions at the gym these days to get a good workout in. I get my best workouts at home or at the school running track. Does anyone else feel the same way about this? Not saying that their is anything wrong with gyms...it just doesn't work for me.

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