How to work out without a gym


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Maybe you don’t belong to a gym, or the babysitter canceled, or it’s pouring rain, or you just plain don’t feel like leaving the house. There are plenty of reasons to exercise in the comfort of your own home, and there are just as many ways to do it. No gym is no reason to hold back; you can get a great workout on your own!


Hit the road
The primary, simplest way to exercise without a gym is to head outdoors on your own two feet. Whether you choose to walk or run, all you need are some sneakers and the road, so it’s perfect in your own neighborhood, at a nearby track or even while you’re traveling! Walking and running are great ways to explore new cities. If you’re interested in stepping it up a notch, search iTunes for Couch to 5k programs that will get you running like a pro. For extra motivation, sign up for a race, whether it’s a 5k or a half marathon.


Hit the stairs
Another option that doesn’t require much in the way of equipment is using stairs. Stair climbing, no matter how quickly, is sure to get your heart pumping. Again, you can likely find stairs anywhere you go. Similarly, you can stop and do jumping jacks just about anywhere, and that’s a fabulous way to get your body moving and heart racing!


If you’re new to fitness or prefer having trainer guidance during workouts, there are near infinite numbers of DVDs and online workout videos. With so much variety — kettlebells, yoga, dance, circuit training, kickboxing, Pilates, aerobics, walking, toning and more — there is something for everyone. Simply press “Play” and follow the instructions. Some require equipment, such as weights, but others rely on body weight alone. Experiment and find some that you enjoy!


There are loads of body-weight movements you can do on your own at home, such as squats, push-ups, planks, lunges, burpees and variations on all of these. A great way to exercise with these moves is to do a heart-pumping Tabata workout. This method was originally designed for sprints, but is a quick and effective way to work muscles, too.

In Tabata training, you perform as many, say, squats as possible for 20 seconds with maximum effort, and then rest for 10 before performing as many reps as possible for 20 seconds again. Repeat this pattern eight times without pause to complete the four-minute Tabata workout. You’ll not only work your muscles, but also get your heart rate soaring. If you count your repetitions (how many squats/push-ups/burpees total), you can also track your improvement.


Deck of cards
Using some of the same basic movements listed above, you can have a fun, effective workout using just a deck of cards. Assign each suit a move. For example: hearts are jumping jacks, spades are push-ups, clubs are air squats and diamonds are alternating lunges.

Then you shuffle a deck of cards and draw cards one at a time, performing the movement based on the selected suit, for as many reps as the number value of the card. For example, if you draw the six of spades, you would do six push-ups, or the king of hearts would be 13 jumping jacks. Continue through the full deck, and you’ll have done quite the workout!


For the workouts above and to create your own, it can help to invest in some small pieces of fitness equipment, such as:

  • Jump rope
  • Dumbbells
  • Medicine ball
  • Fitness ball
  • Kettlebells
  • Box for jumping
  • Thera-band
  • Yoga or Pilates mat
  • Intervals: A timer for Tabata training, such as Gymboss or the interval app
  • Walking and running: A sports watch to track distance and heart rate, such as a Garmin.


So there you have it! No gym? No excuses! There are many ways to work out at home or on the road. Try the above ideas, or use them as inspiration to create your own gym-less workout.

Tell us: What is your favorite way to work out outside of the gym? What tools and equipment enable you to exercise at home?


Meredith is the author of the blog Dare You To…, where she challenges herself and her readers to set goals and make changes for a healthier, fitter, happier life.

Visit Meredith on Twitter.