Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Outside the gym

I guess I just can’t stop believing in Santa.


Or maybe I just can’t stand someone as good looking as Dolvett not to come out on top.


Either way, I found myself rooting for the red team to win last night’s weigh in when, in fact, I was really hoping for the black team. I wanted them to prove to America that you don’t need a fancy gym to lose weight.

And I’m proof.

I haven’t had a gym membership for going on three years. Initially, it was a financial decision. Mark and I weren’t visiting the YMCA enough to justify the $60 monthly fee. Later, it was because of Denali. I didn’t want to pay to walk on a treadmill when I would only have to go home and walk the dog, too. Now, it’s both. Denali still needs a walk, Miles needs a nap and the $60 would be better spent on diapers.

It is true that my passion for running helps me forgo the gym but that’s only three days a week.

Here are my tips for gym-free workouts:

Scope out your local library. My library has TONS of exercise DVDS, and it’s a great way to try out a disc before you even buy it. I’ve found plenty of Jillian Michaels, “Biggest Loser,” Denise Austin and Firm workouts. I found the library particularly helpful when it came to yoga DVDs because I’m not one who enjoys the spiritual side of practice and dislike 90 percent of the workouts. I got to play Goldilocks until I found the one that was just right for me. (I am a fan of the Crunch DVDs with Sara Ivanhoe.)

Trade off. After two months of Yoga Booty Ballet, you find yourself ready to throw a ball through the TV at that stupid drummer. Well, your friend feels the same way at Billy Blanks. So why don’t you trade?

Make a small investment in you. For less than $20, you can get everything you need for a heart-pumping circuit workout. I have a jump rope and hand weights – all from Target – that I like to use if I only have 15 minutes to exercise. Jump rope one minute, perform an upper body exercise for one minute and follow up with one minute of squats or lunges. Repeat five times. This workout is great, too, if you want something to do during commercial breaks.

Don’t be shy. Everyone (well, except for me) seems to have an exercise bike or elliptical that is only collecting dust. Tell co-workers, family, friends that you are in the market for some exercise equipment and you might be surprised what turns up. Our treadmill was a hand-me-down from my in-laws.

Project analysis. Maybe you have a bedroom that’s more storage locker than guest room/office or a basement stacked with storage boxes. Take an afternoon and tackle a project – whether it’s painting, moving boxes or building furniture.

Free pass. The yoga studio where I went for a month or two when I was pregnant offers a free class one Saturday a month. Some gyms offer one-week passes. You can use these when the weather outside is frightful or you need some motivation via friendly competition from other people working out.

Drop on by. I do take two group exercise classes a week on a drop-in basis at a tumbling gym in town. In the past, I also got a punch card via Groupon.

Friendly competition. People always say to exercise during commercial breaks, which can be boring. Mark and I have been known to challenge each other to push-up and crunch competitions.

Explore the outdoors. Many cities have fantastic trails and greenways. Get an upclose look at how your taxpayer dollars are being enjoyed.

Get dirty. It might not be the right time of year but tackle your yard. This summer, I worked up a sweat hacking at an invasive honeysuckle. It might have been because I was 9 months pregnant (I didn’t nest in the traditional way) but I don’t think so.

No excuses. It’ so easy this time of year to want to stay inside and drink hot chocolate on the couch. And I do. Sometimes. I also walk the dog and baby as long as it’s 25 degrees or warmer, and I’m willing to run as long as it’s in the double digits.

What are your tips for living without a gym membership?


  1. I take a yoga class every other week. It's more financially wise. It's a power yoga class so it's a GREAT workout. I try to run (but motivation for that has been lacking). I also like to try out different workouts on OnDemand. It's a great way to try out free workouts. Thanks for the tips! I need to try the library and see if anyone I know has a treadmill they don't want.

    1. I totally forgot about OnDemand! I used to use it when we had cable but I've since found things on Netflix streaming.

  2. Thanks for the post. It is 48 degrees and rainy in the south today and I wasn't going to walk but decided if you could do it in the cold I could too :). So glad I went.

  3. I too watched the Biggest Loser contestants work outside of the gym last night. On December 1st I started the Couch to 5K program and started lifting weights at the gym at work...all for free. I'm watching my expenses so the free gym has helped alot. Interestingly, a community center 5 minutes from my home had a free week in January. I tried Zumba for the 1st time. I would have loved to have joined but it was $20 per month for 4 classes. Considering I'm looking for $200 extra dollars a month to afford a car payment in the near future, I chose to forgo signing up for the Zumba class. I thought to myself, if more free classes were available to people, the more people would go. I know gyms, Y's and even community centers have to pay their bills, but I wish just once a week they would have a free class open to the public. It would make a big difference in people's lives. BTW, I love your blog. You're inspiring.

  4. I use stairs instead of escalators or elevators. I am very lucky to live in Southern California. There is almost always running weather. I could use my bike for running small errands. I go for walks after dinner (on the days when I not run).

  5. I work and attend school at night, so a gym was out for me.
    So I found an amazing trail through these wetlands smack dab in the middle of the city. I invested in a nice bike and discovered I really loved it. Even when it is raining I am more than willing to jump on it with my husband and ride around in the mud. I also find my dog is a big help, she needs fresh air, so I usually walk her in the morning, than ride my bike in the afternoon on the weekends. I also park far away from entrances, so I have to walk a little extra. Thanks for the great tips!!

  6. I too have no gym membership - just the drop in classes I'm doing 1-2X/wk.
    Here's my little contribution:
    1. I carry a basket at the grocery store rather than pushing a cart if at all possible (obviously the super large shopping trips require a cart).

    2. The photocopier is 70 steps from my office and the mail room is 90 steps so the several times a day that I travel to those destinations I speed walk (unless patients are around then I just look rude).

    3. It's only happened a handful of times because I have to travel to so many places in a day, but given that I live exactly 2 miles from my office - would love to walk or run to and from more often.

    4. Weeding (not so much during the winter) is an awesome physical activity. Hence - it's on my 2012 goals :)

    Well that's about all I can think of at the moment. Ohh, let's not forget my mini office boot camp sessions - ha!