July 06, 2015

Free Online Workouts and Other Gym Alternatives

Guest Post By Dave Smith

It's true, you don't have to be a gym rat to get in great shape! For gym alternatives that don't cost a penny, please welcome back Dave Smith who has some awesome suggestions. --Crabby

Gym Memberships Are Overrated: How You Can Get In Great Shape Without One

Last week I received an email from a woman who desperately “needed” to lose weight and had only a few weeks to reach her goal. She explained that while she was willing to do whatever it takes, she realized that her situation might be hopeless because she doesn’t have a gym membership.

A gym membership is a prerequisite for getting in shape? Really?

I know this woman is not alone because I’ve heard sentiments like this from many others in the past.

“I’d like to get in shape but I have no time for the gym.”

“If I didn’t hate going to the gym, I’d exercise all the time.”

For some reason going to the gym has become synonymous with fitness. I’d like to offer a few reasons why this notion is far from reality.

1. Exercise Is All Online and It’s All Free

One drawback to signing up for a gym membership is the high monthly cost. I get it – paying $50 or more each month might be a luxury that isn’t worth the investment. But guess what? Every workout you’d ever want to do at the gym can be done at home for free!

Here is a list of the Best 50 Sources for Online Workouts, which includes all sorts of exercise classes that are instructed by some of the world’s most renowned personal trainers and fitness experts. There’s yoga, resistance training, cardio, Pilates, dance, core training, and more.

Most of these workouts require no equipment, making them perfect for doing in your living room or while travelling. They also vary in class length – There are full-blown 60-minute classes just like the ones you’d take at the gym, and there are quickie workouts that take under 10 minutes.

Money just isn’t a problem when it comes to getting quality exercise done. Check out these free resources and you’ll surely find something that fits your exercise style.

2. Getting In Shape Outdoors Is a Great Alternative to the Gym

If you stay away from the gym because it’s cramped and smelly, maybe it’s time to take your workouts outdoors.

If you’re really lucky, your local park might have some outdoor gym equipment that perfectly replace the machines you’d have access to at a fitness club. These setups are great, but they aren’t required.

Here are some examples of exercises that you can do in any playground.

(Or you could even check out Crabby's tips on designing a playground workout if you dare).

A playground workout is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Recruit a friend to join you and make it a social outing while you get your workout done.

3. Walking Is Awesome Exercise – Don’t Underestimate It!

You’ve surely heard that adults are supposed to aim for 10,000 steps per day in order to meet the minimum requirements for daily physical activity. That sounds pretty easy to do – Just get out and walk!

Unfortunately, studies have shown that most adults get in about 5,000 steps per day. This is a big missed opportunity because those 10,000 steps burn up to 600 calories, which just so happens to be about the same amount you would burn in a typical fitness class at the gym.

Walking is far too underrated. It’s great exercise and can be done anytime, no gym required.

4. Small Amounts of Exercise Really Add Up

It would be sort of silly to go to the gym for a 15-miunte workout. Taking the time to pack your gym gear, make the commute, and get changed for your workout is too much of a time investment for such a short workout.

This is a shame because short bursts of exercise are more effective than long, drawn-out ones. This means that learning how to build quick workouts into your day is an amazing fitness option that is also a great time-saver.

How can you get started?

Do you get a morning coffee break at work? Here’s a super-quick coffee break workout that will take you just a few minutes to complete. Is there a TV show that you watch every evening? Try this core workout that you can literally do from your sofa!

While individually these workouts might not seem as effective as an all-out session at the gym, the cumulative effect is tremendous. Once you know how to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, there is no reason not to get it done.

Here’s a challenge for you this week whether you have a gym membership or not: Go through these exercise suggestions and find just one gym-free workout that you will enjoy doing. Tell us in the comments section what you’ve chosen!

About Dave:

Dave Smith has been a professional fitness and weight-loss coach since 2001 and was chosen as “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” in 2013.

He specializes in holistic weight-loss rooted in clean eating, daily movement, group accountability and on-going peer support. His motto is “Strive for progress, not perfection” and his goal is long-term change, not quick fixes.

You can learn more about his healthy living and weight-loss programs at makeyourbodywork.com.


  1. If you're lucky enough to live in a city that has a November Project (google it), you can even enjoy the benefits of group exercise for free!

    1. I LOVE what Project November is doing Megan! Good call on that one :)

  2. Except for yoga class, I never much cared for being talked through some physical activity. Just show me how to do it and leave me alone. So I suspect that online workouts are not for me. On the other hand, I never had a problem dropping into the gym for ten minutes or so until I moved, so that it's not on my way home anymore. Since my work is very physical, I don't change to go to the gym. [whine] But now that so many body parts hurt so often, I find myself not going for months at a time. And the various parts that hurt, some of them simultaneously, make body-weight workouts not very useful. Miss my gym! [\whine].
    Walking is my favorite exercise of all time. But (more whining) one of the body parts that hurts is my left foot. By the time I've made it through the work day my foot says "Done now!"

    Mary Anne in Kentucky, about to go off to a nine-hour day and hurting already

  3. Dave,
    Good stuff! I totally agree - it's possible to get a great workout with little or no cost, and I push that on my blog. I'm pretty hardcore, and do Tabatas and other such fun, but there's no need to go that hard unless you want to.

    There's an interesting sub-genre of fitness that one can see on YouTube - city playground exercisers who get to absolutely frightening strength levels. And that's essentially free. Of course one could also get in fine shape there without doing exercises that are quite that tough. The downsides would be somewhat poor quality air, and the risk of lack of safety precautions that a gym would have.

    It is true that if you're in a big city, the gym fees could induce weeping, especially if you're looking at those hipster places. At least Planet Fitness offers low fees, $10 per month at this time. I like the gym for the social thing, but I like to work out just as much at home, outside if possible.


    1. Hey Dave - yeah, there are some CRAZY workouts on Youtube that are just body-weight. I think one group calls themselves the "Calisthenics Kingz"...they do some stuff that just looks impossible!

  4. Of course we all know that food is the big part of that weight loss equation. :) I do love the gym but I get that others do not. :)

    1. I have to remind myself that others do not. Just as I have to remind myself there are people who don't like chocolate. :)

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

  5. Hi Crabbster! Thanks for still visiting my blog btw. I noted your comments. I hope to update mine in a week or so.
    I am SOOOOOOO lucky. I have a senior center in our town that costs me $25 a YEAR. Tho I think it may have gone up to $35. Anyway, they have a lap pool, a heated pool (for exercising), a full gym, and lots of classes....all available at no extra charge. I teach yoga one day a week and go to another yoga class on another day. I currently don't use the pools, but if I were injured and needed to, I could.

    Across the parking lot is a community center. It too, has a full gym. I go there two days a week to train with a trainer. That place costs me $75 a year. The trainer is extra, but he is very affordable. I am so very lucky!!!

    I haven't been walking since Ziva died. Now it is summer and the heat and humidity do NOTHING for me wanting to walk outdoors. But I do go to the gyms and use the treadmills or the indoor tracks.

    There are SO many places that you can utilize for cheap or free workouts. It just takes a bit of effort. The bigger reason folks don't make that effort might be because they are not really as committed as they profess to be.

    Ramble over. Hugs Crabby! Was so happy to see the recent ruling that impacted your personal life so well. Glad this country gets a few things right once in a while! :D

  6. I'm a member of a great fitness center (GHFC)! When I joined many years ago the person trying to sell me the membership told me about all the "advantages" of the place. I told them I didn't need the gym for motivation to get fit, because I did plenty of exercise, I wanted it for the social aspects. And over the years, I found plenty of new friends and numerous other connections. So while I am a good example of what you are saying, for me, my fitness center in many ways became a way of life. Oh, and I pay $75 a year. (Members who joined before me, are still paying $50, lol) Yeah, it's higher now.

  7. The gym is out because of cost, but that doesn't stop me from working being fit into my day!


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