You don’t need the gym

Lately, I have come across many people who want to get in better shape for the summer. Unfortunately, they keep telling me they cannot do anything about it because they do not have a gym membership. My response is always the same: “That’s great! You can enjoy so many more options than people who always work out in the same place.” It’s true. You absolutely do not need a gym membership to improve your health and fitness. All you have to have is a desire to get better.

Getting in better shape is dependent upon your physical activity, not where you perform it. While a fitness center does provide lots of options and equipment, it’s not always the best place for you to exercise. Many people feel self-conscious and uncomfortable going to a gym. Many times there isn’t a health club close to your home or work, making it inconvenient to get to. If any of these apply to you, I suggest that you try working out in the two largest and most convenient gyms available: the great outdoors and your house.

In order to exercise safely, you will need some equipment. At a minimum, you should invest in a pair of quality walking or running shoes. Other equipment is optional, but I would highly recommend a stability ball and a couple of resistance bands. With this small and inexpensive collection, you can do almost any exercise you’d find in a gym. These are extremely versatile and can be tailored to your specific needs.

Now you need to figure out where to work out. If convenience is a major factor, find an open space in your home that you can use. You don’t need much room, but it should be large enough that you can lie down and move around a little while standing. If using an exercise band, be sure to use a door anchor or attach it to something sturdy and heavy.

If you like to spend time outdoors, why not exercise there? Exercising outside is great and it is very easy to find enough space. One of the things I enjoy about exercising outside is the ability to make your workout portable. For example, I can go for a run, carry an exercise band with me, do a few exercises and then continue on until I want to stop and do some more. Of course, the biggest benefit to exercising outside is that you get to spend time outdoors, rather than cooped up inside.

A simple search of the Internet will provide you with multitudes of exercises easily performed in your home or outside. There are also many different pieces of equipment specifically designed for these situations. Personally, I am not a big fan of home gyms. They are great pieces of equipment, but can be too limiting. For my home workout, I prefer versatility and the ability to be indoors or out. For that reason, I like to use bands, medicine balls, kettle bells and other such pieces of equipment. But do not limit yourself to these; exercise with things you like.

When trying to improve your fitness level, the first thing to consider is your desired goal. Once you find something that really motivates you, then think about where you would like to exercise. A gym is great for many people, but not everybody. If working out in a gym is not for you, think about trying it at home or enjoy the summer weather while getting fit. While some equipment is necessary, you do not need much. Find what works for you and focus on consistency. That is key to reaching your goals.

Jared Carter, CSCS, is the owner of Move Forward Fitness Personal Training Studio, 1616 Walnut St. Visit www.moveforwardfitness.com or reach him at (215) 399-3541 or [email protected].