There are many reasons why having a gym membership may not be an option for you – even when you care for your health, enjoy physical activity, and want to stay fit.
Maybe there is not a gym available in your area or your local gym does not offer the classes -or times- you are looking for. Some gym memberships could be out of your budget. Or you simply like to do things your way and freely choose not to have one. Whichever category you fall in, there are many ways to stay fit without going to the gym.
There is a difference between looking fit and being fit. Being fit is more about your well-being and your health than appearance, it’s about having a body that allows you to enjoy life at its fullest. There are five components of physical fitness and you will need to work in all of them to be truly fit: body composition, flexibility, cardio-respiratory endurance, muscular endurance, and muscular strength.
Sounds like a lot? It’s not! Let’s get started.
Get the best fuel you can for your body
Your body composition strongly depends on what you eat. If you can, choose to eat a homemade meal, buy fresh and local produce and meats, look for low-fat content in your carbs and dairy. A rule of thumb that never fails is to introduce as many colors as you can in your diet: you are going to ensure a good source of vitamins, essential minerals, and prebiotics!
Drink more water. Your brain can’t tell the difference between you being thirsty or hungry, so always try drinking water first!
Create a routine that works for you
Fitness is not something that you can achieve fast and consider it done: it takes time and never ends. You will need a plan, more when you don’t have the structure and schedule that a gym provides. You will need a routine that you can stick with and is enjoyable for you.
- Plan for a reasonable amount of time and frequency -and start with less. Even when we usually overestimate what we can do in the short term, we always underestimate what can we do in the long term. Use that in your favor: start little, keep the pace, and grow from there.
- Choose the moment of the day that is better for you, either early in the morning while the kids sleep or late in the afternoon when your partner is at home and could take care of them -or any other time in between.
- Choose activities that you like -or at least the ones you enjoy the effects after doing them! Make sure you have the variety you will need to work on your flexibility, aerobic endurance, and muscular strength.
- Make sure you have the basic gear you will need for your chosen activities: you will need comfortable clothes and shoes. You can have a mat or work directly on the floor, it’s up to you.
Improve your flexibility
Flexibility is a vital component of fitness and the most often overlooked one. Flexibility increases your range of motion, improves your posture, and reduce injury risks.
There are many ways you can improve your flexibility:
- Do not skip warm-ups and cool down, many videos on YouTube show you how to warm-up and how to cool down. If you are walking, running, or riding your bike, it could be as easy as starting at a slow pace and finishing at that same slow pace: gentle introduce your body for what comes next.
- Dance to your favorite songs. Dancing is excellent for flexibility and works wonders in your mood. Even your little ones can join you for a while!
- Practice Yoga (or Tai-Chi or Pilates) For the last 5 years, I’ve been practicing Yoga With Adriene, as I mentioned in a previous article about managing kid’s stress. I can’t tell you how good it feels, how grateful my body and mind are during, and after my practice. I also work in my strength and endurance with yoga.
- Stretch after your exercise session there is no better moment to do it than right after you are done with your walk, run, or muscular training.
Keep your heart pumping
Having the chance to enjoy nature while making something good for my body and my health is an absolute plus for me. If you like to walk or run, check this WM article about Great Places to Run in Wichita. You can also add some hiking adventures during weekends in these Top 5 Spots to Hike With Your Family. If riding a bike is your thing, you can look for different options for bike lanes, bicycling boulevards, and paths around town here in Bike Walk Wichita.
You can also try indoor activities if the weather makes going outside not an option. One of the best ways of doing aerobic exercise indoors is going up and down the stairs, if you have them at home. Dancing or taking an online Zumba class will improve your aerobic endurance also.
Build endurance and strength at the same time
You need muscular strength and endurance for things as important and basic as mobility, the ability to lift things and to perform your day to day activities. Improving muscular strength and endurance reduces the risks of injuries.
You can do many exercises at home that don’t require equipment. Just challenge your muscles to work harder or longer than they usually do and that will make the trick. Some exercises to try at home are planks, squats, walking lunges, push-ups, and situps. For details on how to perform these exercises, you can check this site.
If you add some weight you will improve your strength: you can start with small plastic bottles filled with sand and water, or little pebbles if you don’t have dumbbells -or until you get ones.
It’s possible to stay fit without a gym membership. Aspects as creating a schedule or getting the basic gear you will need could be a little harder -but not necessarily- and you gain in a routine that fits you and your family life perfectly, an enjoyable one.
Try to do the best choices you can when choosing what you eat, drink more water. Choose activities that you like: how you feel is important to stick with your routine. Be gentle with your body: let it know that you are going to move from a state of rest to activity and vice-versa with warm-ups and cool-downs. Don’t forget about your joints, they are as important as your muscles and bones: work in your flexibility. Keep your heart pumping and add exercises to improve your muscular strength and endurance. Don’t forget to stretch after!
Fitness is about how well your body keeps up with your daily activities, how healthy you are, and how good you feel. You may not feel at your best now, and you don’t need to achieve it tomorrow: you have your whole life to do it. “A little goes a long way” and you are in the right way of creating a brighter future for your body and yourself!