You’ve been spinning on the exercise bike for less than 5 minutes when Sweaty McSmellerson plops down on your right. The odor is too much, but you can’t just leave or else everyone will judge you and think you’re a wimp, right? Case in point, Ms. Going-for-the-Gold on your left has clearly been cranking out the calories long before you got there. So you lean away, you lean back, you turn your head to the left to take in gulps of air until you finally give up appearances and get up, letting Sweaty McSmells win.
Deep breath, let it out: you hate the gym.
Who can blame you? Let’s be honest here, the gym can be gross—unless you’re a germaphobe who actually uses the disinfectant cloths to wipe down the handlebars. It’s also intimidating considering that most of the people there belong in a photo shoot alongside Jennifer Aniston (seriously, can we get a copy of her workout plan?). If you’ve decided to give up on the gym, and—like me—you’re not even into running, then read on—HC has 7 solutions for you to stay fit without setting foot inside the gym!
1. Don’t Take That Elevator
We’ve all tried our best to avoid climbing the stairs. Last year, I lived on the third floor of a dorm where the elevator only stopped on even floors, so instead of saving time and working my thighs, I would take the elevator to four and walk down. No matter how fit you are, there’s a reason why you feel like you need to be breaking through a marathon ribbon around the third flight: stairs are a fantastic workout. Depending on your weight, you can burn anywhere from 7 to 10 calories a minute climbing up. Plus, instead of making you large and bulky, climbing stairs gives you definition, and your buttocks, quads, hamstrings, and even abs will thank you for it. Decide how many stairs you want to conquer each day, and then increase the number as you build your strength. Once you start seeing the results, you’ll wonder why you spent all that time waiting for the elevator.
2. Get Dance Fever
Guess what? Those Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights you spent rocking out to a floor-filler actually do pay off (and hopefully help to balance out the calories from those shots). According to LiveStrong.com, “for every 15 minutes of club dancing, a 105-pound person may burn 60 calories, a 125-pound individual may burn 71 calories, [and] a 150-pound individual may burn 86 calories.” Translation? Burn fast and have a blast.
If the party scene isn’t your thing, try anything from a Dance Central video game to a one-woman rager in your room. Put together a fun, upbeat playlist—or if hard-core, no-nonsense is more your style, blast some Jay-Z or Eminem—to really get yourself going. You can even venture outside of the house for some fun classes—anything from Zumba to beginning Jazz, salsa to belly dancing. Grab a few friends and get low!
3. Burn It Up With Bikram
While a 100+ degree room and horror tales of people passing out during their first class may seem daunting, the benefits of hot yoga far outweigh the initial obstacles. The heat allows your muscles to warm up, decreasing the chance of injury, while simultaneously increasing your metabolism and cleansing your body of toxins. According to LiveStrong.com, you can burn up to 800 or 900 calories, depending on your current weight.” But before you race into that overheated room, remember that it’s important to hydrate well before and after your first class. It’s normally recommended that you drink about 16 ounces of water prior to attending a class.
A former fencer at Harvard and current fencing coach, Nadia Eldeib says that hot yoga is “an amazing way to get in shape, but be warned that it’s anything but a day of relaxing downward dog. You’ll want to drink water, water, and more water beforehand, and bring a towel and water bottle in addition to your mat.” She adds that beginners should “know that it’s totally okay to take breaks the first time you go; it’s difficult to keep up in the heat, and although I’m an athlete, I still needed to sit down a couple of times and take a break during my first Bikram session.” Despite the initial obstacles, Nadia still strongly recommends this challenging workout. “It’s a hot and sweaty way to work out, but so worth it. After an hour of Bikram and a shower, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on the world!”
Be sure to research Bikram guidelines before you sign up, or, to be extra-safe, ask your doctor for input. And most importantly, do what you’re comfortable doing! That means if you start to feel nauseous or lightheaded during a class, step out and get some air!
4. Swim Like a Butterfly
If hot yoga isn’t your thing, cool down by jumping in the pool. Swimming itself is already a great way to stay fit, but the butterfly stroke is the technique that burns the most calories: 150 every 10 minutes to be exact. But before you burst out of your couch cocoon, take caution: this is the hardest stroke of them all, and if you haven’t mastered it well enough, you could injure your back and shoulders. According to Olympic silver-medal winner Sharon Davies, it’s important to make sure you’ve really got the freestyle, breaststroke, and backstroke down before you attempt the butterfly. And, hey, while you’re in the process of practicing all three, you’ll be sweeping away some serious calories.
5. Invest in Cankle Killers
I keep a pair of ankle weights—or cankle killers as I like to call them—everywhere I move, from my college dorm to a summer apartment. Ankle weights are the best ways to trim your legs, making it easier to target those outer and (ever evasive) inner thighs. As an added bonus, using ankle weights also strengthens your abs. As with any weight-lifting regimen, proceed with caution. Weldon Armelin, former fitness trainer at the Houston Texas YMCA, says the right way to use ankle weights depends on the person. “Choose the weight that is comfortable. Someone who has had a previous injury shouldn’t use heavy weights because that would mess up the ankle joints,” he says.
So if you feel like you’re putting too much strain on your body, stop and switch to lighter weights. For amazing cankle killer workouts, click here.
6. Park Your Car Far, Far Away
…Because you’ve got some serious power walking to do. Whether you’re in the classroom or the cubicle, you probably sit a lot every day. While all that mental energy spent cranking out essays or researching on the computer can really wipe you out by the end of the day, continuing to sit down once it’s all over is detrimental to your health. According to an article in the New York Times, “Stand Up While You Read This!” it doesn’t matter how much you exercise: “if you spend most of the rest of the day sitting… you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death.” Morbid, I know, but if we measure our health by how often and how long we exercise, then our inactivity should be tallied in the same way. It’s important to decrease the hours you spend in the chair any way you can. For example, if you’re driving to the grocery store, instead of attempting to find the parking spot closest to the entrance, make a game of finding the one farthest away, and then walk. Instead of forwarding an email to your coworker down the hall, get up and deliver the message the old school way. If you have extra time during your lunch break, take a walk. Try power walking for at least 30 minutes a day!
7. Rollin’ In The Rink
That’s right, it’s time to hit the roller rink because according to LiveStrong.com, you burn more calories rollerblading than weight lifting: in one hour, a 160-pound person skates off about 913 calories. Not to mention this activity can be turned into a social event, unlike weightlifting when you’re only capable of communicating in cavewoman grunts. Make sure you have the proper safety gear (helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, etc.) before you go for a spin.
And as a last extra tip, be sure to drink! Nope, we’re not talking about sipping from that red solo cup: say hello to a nice, hot ceramic mug of green tea. When paired with caffeine, the catechins (high levels of antioxidants) in green tea increase metabolism, according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition. So bottoms up, collegiettes—try not to break too much of a sweat on this one.
With these tips you’ll be on your way to looking just as fit as the gym class heroes out there.
Share your anti-gym regimen with us in the comments below!