Back in September I wrote a blog post entitled Exercise Without The Gym which aimed to help you get fit without ever having to set foot in a gym! Today I would like to expand on this concept to bring some fresh ideas to those who wish to work out at home or in public spaces, such as fields and parks. The benefits of doing so are not just financial, as gym memberships can often be quite expensive, but you can also save time and preparation. Never again will you have to make sure your gym clothes are washed and packed into your bag! You will spend much less time worrying about preparing your post-workout snack. Also, you will always end your workout at home where you can reward yourself with an indulgent bubble bath instead of a quick cubicle shower!
Another plus side is getting some of that fantastic vitamin D from sunshine as you can choose to exercise outside. Although of course you must be careful not to get sunburnt, not getting enough of this essential vitamin is a problem for a lot of people. Especially with the amount of time most of us spend indoors and at work. You simply can not get that at the gym!
In the previous blog post, I mentioned running as a great form of free cardio. However, cycling is another good choice and is actually much better suited to some people. If you want to be involved in a more low-impact cardio exercise that will still help you to lose weight and build strength, then cycling is for you. Buying a bike does not have to cost a fortune and you will always have more fun out on the road as opposed to cycling on a stationary bike in the gym with a row of other cyclists! This is also the perfect way to get the whole family involved in your fitness efforts as you can arrange weekend cycling trips around your local area and beyond! Why not pack a picnic and make a day of it! Some cities have special cycle paths and there are often clubs that meet if you prefer a social rather than solitary workout.
If you are lucky enough to live by the sea or a lake, then you can indulge in some outdoor swimming which will not cost a cent. This is a much more bracing form of exercise than swimming in a pool, and you get to avoid all that nasty chlorine too!
Swimming tones muscles as water is 12 times denser than air and also improves flexibility. It is an excellent way to improve your breathing techniques and you can achieve a longer workout without putting too much strain on your body. Some people claim swimming can almost be like meditating. It is undoubtedly a very calm way to exercise.
You may need to invest in a wetsuit if you plan on trying outdoor swimming in the colder months of the year. There are a lot of outdoor swimming clubs that can offer tips and advice on how to start this hobby with some important safety tips. Swimming in open water does mean you have to be aware of the weather and make sure you know your own capabilities when it comes to what is safe. This is another low impact activity which is suitable for anyone that knows how to swim.
Yoga is an activity that can be practiced anywhere. Obviously you can do this in a class or at home, but it is particularly well suited to early mornings in the park, at the beach or in your own garden or terrace if you are lucky enough to have one. You can purchase a book to get to grips with some of the basics, but there are also so many fantastic free video tutorials online to learn from. It might help to invest in a few classes to master a range of basic poses that you can practice alone or with friends. This will enable you to make sure that you are stretching correctly. It can help your yoga practice if you add soothing music to your session, but it is equally pleasant to appreciate the sounds of nature and truly relax.
Although I mentioned using your own body weight to build muscle in the last blog post, I would now like to mention a specific way to do this. Some of you may be familiar with TRX suspension training, which uses stretchy portable bands connected to something sturdy to allow you to exercise. The idea of TRX is that you combine gravity with your own body weight to perform a wide variety of exercises. You have complete control over these activities as you can change the amount of resistance you use with each exercise. This is a great way to stay fit if you travel a lot as you can easily take the very small amount of equipment with you anywhere!
The exercises that you choose to do outside of the gym will of course depend on what it is you are trying to achieve from your workout. The choice to lose weight, build muscle or improve stamina are popular aims and will be reached through a range of different activities. Remember, if you do not want to go to the gym then you are not limited to these low cost options. You can also invest in your own exercise equipment to create a mini gym in your own home!