Thursday, September 12, 2013

The No Gym, No Problem Workout

On Monday I gave some insight into excuses and what a slippery slope they are. One of the biggest excuses I hear is that people can't afford a gym membership, don't have time to commute to one, travel to much to take advantage of a membership, or hate exercising in public so weight loss is out of reach for them. So, I'm going to give you a tool to combat that excuse. 

The main line is: Just because you don't own a gym membership (for whatever reason you choose) doesn't mean you can't workout. You can do the following workouts in your house, at the park, or in a hotel room. It's totally up to you. You don't even have to buy a bunch of equipment or free weights to be effective!

I have a few workouts that I cycle through on days when I don't have time to get back and forth from the gym.

The first one is simple. Basically, Run. When it comes to cardio, distance running is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Without a gym membership, you can do that outside when the weather is good. I'll run in rain or in snow (as long as the sidewalk is clear). The only thing that forces me personally to go to the gym for a run is intense heat. It just completely deflates me and I can't perform well enough to get in the burn that I like. That's really only an issue in the summer. You can also try a HIIT running workout with sprints, if that's more your thing. Science tells us it may be even more effective than distance running when it comes to getting an optimal calorie burn for the whole day and strengthening your heart. If you need a training program to get started as a beginner runner, I recommend Couch to 5k and of course, my favorite, the Zombies, Run 5k Trainer app. 

Another option is yoga (or as I refer to it, Avatar training). I have attended a lot of yoga classes in my life throughout college and at the gym. I'm a big fan of vinyasa and you can easily do that in your home if you clear a bit of floor space. If you don't have access to a few free classes to get the hang of it and learn some positions and cycles, then there's a lot of great resources on youtube. You can put together your own warm ups and create goals for working on some of the harder positions. The only cost is a yoga mat and you can find those under $20 at drug stores or sporting goods shops. 

The last option is one of my all time favorites: The bodyweight circuit or the "Starbuck Special," as I like to call it. What I love about it is that it's simple and it's easy to increase the intensity from week to week as you get stronger. The idea is to cycle through a string of repeated exercises that target different areas of the body about 4 times. Here are some exercises you can choose from.

* NOTE: If you don't want to buy free weights or resistance bands, you can try taking an empty milk jug and filling it with sand, rocks, or cement. I've also taken a small bag and filled it with heavy hardcover books. Do whatever you need do to pick up something heavy. 

There are a lot of options and you don't need to include all of them each time. I like to increase the reps by 2 every week or increase my plank time by 5-10 seconds. To help get you started, I'll give you the circuit I started with. 

Warm up: 5 minutes of high knees, jumping jacks, or a 5-10 minute easy run outdoors. 

  1. 15 squats
  2. 10 push-ups
  3. 20 lunges
  4. 10 Pilates body roll ups.
  5. 10 rows on each side.
  6. 10 lateral oblique lifts on each side
  7. 30 seconds plank.
  8. 20 Jumping Jacks

Repeat 4 times.

Cool down: Stretching. Make sure to stretch your quads, arms, and back. You'll be feeling the burn later!

I usually finish in 22-30 minutes.

You can decide how to increase the intensity of your circuit over time. Add reps, add cycles. It's up to you to continue to challenge yourself. It may seem simple, but I guarantee you'll work up a crazy sweat and you'll definitely feel the burn. The nice thing is you can pretty much do these circuits every day without harming yourself because you're not living crazy amounts of weight like in a free weight routine. All I can say is my best body results came when I alternated running with bodyweight circuits. 

What's your no excuses workout? What do you do when you don't have a gym to lean on for support and equipment? Please share in the comments!


  1. Well, I belong to a gym. But they are mobile and come to the park in my town and we do body weight exercises. My excuse is that every class (its like a boot camp style class.. with one exercise flowing into the next for an hour) is only $3. Seriously?! I can't even get Starbucks for that little. I can usually find it in change around my house. And they motivate me to push harder than I ever would myself. At this stage in my journey, I think what I'm doing is best. Because, honestly, when I would workout on my own, while I was doing the Zombies Run App, I wouldn't try all that hard. I wouldn't do all the exercises, or all the reps. That might be different now, but it really helps to have someone there that knows how to do the exercises and will motivate you to do 50 reps if you really only want to do 25.

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