Fitness Tips

7 Gym Alternatives That Prove You Can Get Your Sweat on Whenever, Wherever

Rachel Lapidos

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The gym is great and all, but it’s not at all necessary in order to get a good workout sesh in. If the current COVID-19-slash-extended WFH situation is any indication, there are thousands of gym alternatives out there (I mean, people have gotten really creative), proving that getting your sweat on does not require a designated workout facility.

“Working out is not just about what you do, it’s about how you do it,” says Noah Neiman, co-founder of Rumble Training and Rumble Boxing. “Since we aren’t able to hit our favorite workout studios right now, we must keep ourselves active by any means necessary.” Neiman, who has been hosting Instagram Live workouts on his account, has seen a tremendous response from his followers joining in. “People can’t believe how great of a workout you can get with little to no equipment, coupled with a ton of effort.”

Really, the only true, essential piece of workout equipment that you need to get a good sweat sesh in is yourself. “You can do a full-body workout with no extra equipment,” says Julia Brown, a trainer at Dogpound. “Being able to leverage your own body weight is the perfect way to build up strength in all areas of your body including your core, glutes, arms, and legs. Add in a little cardio to get the heart pumping, and you are set with a well-rounded workout.” The gym is only different because it has designated tools for all of this, but you can get all of these elements elsewhere. “It’s fun and exciting to try and learn something new, like a dance or take a different online instructor,” says Nicholas Poulin, trainer and founder of Poulin Health and Wellness.

The only true, essential piece of workout equipment that you need to get a good sweat sesh in is yourself.

Even if you’re a big fan of going to the gym, working out outside of the gym has its perks, too. If you’re outdoors, obviously you’re getting some vitamin D, fresh air, and (sometimes) a dose of nature as you sweat (as opposed to streaming Keeping Up with the Kardashians on an elliptical). Running outside can be a form of sightseeing, depending on where your stride takes you. Beyond that, it can just be a good challenge to switch things up and get out of your house for a quick sweat sesh.

Besides getting creative with how you sweat, you can get creative with the equipment you sweat with. There are countless household items that double as exercise equipment, from using soup cans as weights to a towel as a resistance band. “For those who want to use added weight, you can use a case of water or other large item for weighted squats, for instance,” says Brown. Feeling inspired? Keep scrolling for inspo on how to sweat outside of your local fitness center.

Put together a strength training workout

Neiman points out that his go-to workout staples have always been strength training through weights and calisthenics. His tip? “Pick a few exercises, pick an amount of time for rep count of each exercise, add in some dope music, and repeat,” he says. His fave fundamental moves include squats, lunges, high knees with jabs and crosses, shoulder taps, jumping jacks, walking planks, jump squats, mountain climbers, and burpees.

FYI: Here’s the right way to do a push-up:

String together intervals

Similar to the point above, you can create mini workout intervals that you work through for several rounds. Brown recommends, for example, doing three rounds of: 15 body weight squats, 20 pulse squats, 25 jumping jacks, and a 30 second plank as one interval that you move through three times. Create another, then finish things off with a finisher round as an explosive way to spike your heart rate. Her go-to: three rounds of a 30 second wall sit, five to eight push-ups, and 10 burpees.

Try this at-home HIIT workout for a quick sweat:

Learn a dance

If you want to try something new, Poulin recommends learning a dance—which, of course, functions as a workout, too. “I’m working on my salsa moves,” he says of his own gym alternative technique du jour. Whether it’s salsa dancing, tango, line dancing, or even a different dance cardio class that you’ve never tried, it all works to get you sweating.

Here’s a beginner dance cardio workout you can try at home:

Go for a walk

The good news is that walking is a legitimate workout, and it doesn’t require a treadmill. Not only is it a Blue Zones philosophy to walk throughout the day to stay active, but walking is the most basic way to get your steps in and to get your heart pumping. Try a guided walking workout (yes, these exist), go for a power walk, or simply stroll throughout your neighborhood whenever you have the time.

FYI: You can turn this treadmill working into a power walking workout if you want:

Ride a bike

Reaping the benefits of spinning doesn’t have to take place in a cycling studio. Either invest in a bicycle or rent one through something like CitiBike or Lyft, and hit the pavement for some easy cardio. Adjust your speed and resistance to add intensity.

Here’s what happened when one Well+Good staffer tried an underwater spin class:

Take up running

One of the easiest, most OG ways to work out outside of the gym is to run. Lace up your go-to pair of running sneakers and let your feet take you wherever you want. Tune into a podcast or your favorite playlist, or let a workout app guide you through a treadmill-free run.

Watch how to have proper running form before you get going: 

Grab a yoga mat

You can basically do yoga anywhere—all you need is a mat. Stream something like Well+Good’s Trainer of the Month Club as a guide, and work your way through sun salutations and a flow to increase your flexibility and strength.

Here’s a beginner yoga flow to help get you started, courtesy of Val Verdier: 

Also helpful: Hit up some of the top online streaming workouts of 2020 that you can tune into anytime, anywhere. And here’s a Pilates abs workout that *also* doesn’t require going to the gym. 

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