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8 Exercises You Can Do Without The Gym

It was easy to work out at school—the rec center was a few blocks from your dorm and you always had a gym buddy to shake it with at Zumba. You got familiarized with the equipment and were finally enjoying the gym (or at least the gym eye-candy).

Now that it’s summer, you’re back home and want to continue your workouts, but a gym membership is expensive. We’ve got your solution: work out at home (or around it)! Working out without a gym takes some adjusting, but it can be just as gratifying and save a lot of money.

Here are 8 forms of exercise that you don’t need to pay for to get the payoff.

1. Hiking

Group Fitness Instructor and student Mallika Rajan likes to break out of the gym for an early morning hike to beat the heat. “I try to do it every day I’m at home,” says Mallika. The inclines will tone your thighs and butt while you snap Instagram-worthy photos of the scenery.

Don’t know where to hike? Find a great trail near you here.

2. Swimming

If you have access to a pool, swimming is a great way to work out and beat the heat. Swimming laps is great cardio—a standard crawl can burn upwards of 700 calories in an hour—and the motions give you all-over toning. If you’re not confident in your strokes, many health clubs and community centers offer lessons and classes, so check out the ones in your area.

Simply doing laps of whatever strokes you’re comfortable with for 20 minutes to 1 hour is good exercise, but if you want to take it up a notch by alternating speeds to build endurance, then try some of these swim workouts.

3. Running

Who needs a treadmill when you have the great outdoors? With hills and changing scenery, you’ll burn mega cals without getting bored! You can find local trails on sites like Map My Run, allowing you to explore parts of your neighborhood you may not usually go to.

Thinking about participating in a race this year but don’t know where to start?

Summer is the perfect time to follow a training plan and ramp up your running endurance. Beginning runners can use apps like Couch to 5K to map out workouts and track progress.

4. Dancing

If you like dance-based workouts, videos of full Zumba classes are available on YouTube. Video games like Just Dance or the good ol’ Dance Dance Revolution can provide a cardio-intense, hilarious workout. Grab a few friends and get the dance party started.

5. Lower Body Resistance Training Circuit

To get lower body (buns ‘n thighs) definition, repeat this circuit three times and feel the burn. 

  • 10 burpees
  • 10 lunges (per each side)
  • 10 squats
  • Pulse in a low squat for 30 seconds
  • 10 plié squats
  • Pulse in a low plié for 30 seconds
  • 1-minute wall sit

6. Textbook Arm Workout

For the weight-lifting lovers, a textbook is the perfect, free medicine ball. Instead of buying a weight set or other expensive equipment, use your schoolbooks.

This blog has come up with great “textbook” workouts that work your whole body, including elevated pushups, squats and lifts, jump up and overs, squat with torso twist, and toe-touches.

7. Abdominal Circuits

Burn through this circuit three times per week for ab muscles.

  • 25 normal crunches
  • 25 side crunches (each side)
  • 25 left knee touches (twist your torso to bring your right elbow to bent left knee)
  • 25 right knee touches (twist your torso to bring your left elbow to bent right knee)
  • 25 crunches with legs flat on the ground
  • 25 butt-lift crunches (lying on your back with legs at a 90-degree angle from your body, pulse butt upwards)
  • 30-second plank

Repeat 3 times.

8. Yoga

Is your job or internship stressing you out? Practicing yoga can help you stay calm, and it can also improve your balance and flexibility. Flexibility prevents injury in other workouts and provides lean muscles.

Hulu, Netflix, and On-Demand provide great, free yoga workouts for beginners, so get on your Lululemon, dim the lights, and start practicing.


No matter which exercises you choose (and you should mix it up!) enjoy skipping the gym. With these at-home workouts, you can have your cake and eat it, too.