Imagine that you become all excited about getting fit- you gather all the tools you need, and you register your payment information. Three months later, you are no longer excited and the tools gather dust. Worse yet, you forget about the payments you’re making every month until a full year later. How fit are you now?
If that sounds like you, then you probably have joined a gym at some point in your life. Whenever people talk about getting fit, the first thing they say is “I joined XYZ gym”. The biggest problem with joining XYZ gym is most of us simply stop going within 4 months!
I’m a bit of a cheapskate, which is one of the reasons I am anti-gym. The other reason is I hate wasting time. No matter what your intentions are, if you don’t keep going, a gym is a waste of your hard-earned money AND time.
You should know that I haven’t held a gym membership in years. Yet, I have been able to maintain my 100-pound weight loss through the birth of two daughters, job loss, and family conflicts.
Let’s examine two reasons that you should AVOID the gym, and how to get fit outside the gym.
Most gyms are a WASTE of money.
According to the 2005 study, “Paying Not to Go to the Gym” by economists Stefano Dellavigna and Ulrike Malmendier, average gym attendance is lower than 4.8 times per month.
If you have ever been locked into a monthly contract, also, you may have first-hand experience with the pain of cancelling a gym membership. My husband joined LA Fitness a few years ago, and decided to cancel within a few months to save on monthly costs. It took several months and plenty of annoying conversations with the staff before they “released” him from his obligations.
According to Cheatsheet, commercial health clubs need at least 10 times as many members as they can fit in the door to be profitable. In other words, it is part of the business for gyms to sign up people who won’t even attend.
Most gyms are no FUN.
There is nothing more invigorating than standing next to a sweaty man who grunts loudly every time he lifts a bar. Then, spends 20 minutes admiring his arms in the mirror.
Or, avoiding gym trolls in the locker room who take naked photos of women changing, post to social media, and critique their non-Playboy looks.
Or, waiting for 20 minutes just to use a sweaty machine, where you promptly read or multi-task.
Do you get motivated by the idea of pounding the treadmill in a closed gym environment crawling with sweat, germs, and loud noises? It’s not fun, and it usually doesn’t result in fitness.
But, you are focused on getting more exercise. What can you do other than join a gym?
There IS a way to get and stay fit without a gym membership. Below are a few that have worked really well for me.
6 Ways to Get Fit without a Gym
Check out your local community education website for the latest classes. The classes are usually only 8-12 weeks, so it’s a good way to find a new passion! Plus, many community education programs allow for drop-in rates, and replacing one missed class with attending another free of charge.
I found Barre, Belly Dancing and Bollywood using this method. Plus, I met moms in my neighborhood. Especially if you’re new to your area, this is a good way to meet others.
Look on Eventbrite or Meetup for fitness-related events. Some of these are free groups, and some might share a special event held at a studio that you may enjoy more than a commercial gym. The benefits of using Eventbrite or Meetup is you get a chance to search by your passions, like running, swimming, cross-country skiing, etc.
I found an amazing local Zumba studio by searching on Eventbrite. This studio frequently has special events that allow me to jam in support of local events, like this Zumbathon at a high school to benefit juvenile diabetes. There was even a news crew there. (No, they didn’t take close-ups of our sweaty dancing.)
Subscribe to a Youtube fitness channel. Most fitness professionals offer free videos to try out their offerings.
I can’t talk enough about Youtube! Since I purchased a Roku several years ago, I now stream YouTube to my TV, and have access to literally thousands of free fitness videos in every discipline. You can also use Amazon Fire, Chromecast, or Apple TV to stream Youtube to your TV.
Like dancing? Try Keaira LaShae at Superhero Fitness
Like resistance training? Try Fitness Blender
Like yoga? Try Yoga with Adriene
Set up your own home gym. This doesn’t need to be expensive. Start with a set of resistance bands, a jump rope, and light weights. As you get more advanced, add a medicine ball, kettlebell and core or Bosu ball.
I prefer exercising in the comfort of my home, and building muscle is the best way to burn calories while you sleep. Therefore, I use my home gym at least 2-3 times a week. Plus, it kills those excuses when your tools are ready to go, even if you aren’t.
Get outside to walk, run, roll, bike, skate, swim, ski or glide.
Getting outside has many benefits, even in cold states. Get fresh air, benefit from green space, and even meet your neighbors. Your dog will be happy for more outdoor time, too.
Try ClassPass or Groupon to try local fitness classes for a fraction of the price.
I recently bought a monthly membership valued at $120 for only $30. Not a bad deal for a month of shaking up my normal routine. Use this option to try new things like aerial fitness or to use tools you don’t have in your home gym (like battle ropes, pull-up bars, huge tires, etc).