This is a tough time if you’re a gym rat. Many are now forced to take their fitness outside the gym, but this can be a good thing.
This podcast is a look back on how exercise is everywhere, and it doesn’t have to be limited to just a gym. A gym is great, but there are some issues with it including the travel time there and back, the crowds and having to wait for equipment. There is the parking issue, and then the fact you are exposed to so much illness and germs.
Let’s take a look at things you can do to keep fit that doesn’t require a gym membership:
In this episode about fitness outside the gym you will learn:
- Why the same workouts can become ineffective
- Why your mind needs new stimulation
- The many advantages of being outside
- How yoga can enhance your fitness and how to start
- Taking new approaches to fitness that are more functional
- Why cross fit might be the boost you need
- Why recreational sports can be a welcome change
Taking your Fitness outside the Gym
Exercise is everywhere and it doesn’t have to be limited to the gym. It is important to not get caught up in being focused on your workouts having to be inside a gym all the time. Gym is awesome, we all love it. But there are some issues with it including travel time, parking issues, crowds, having to wait for equipment and exposure to germs. Let us discuss some things that you can do that aren’t always centered on the gym but are still really good for your fitness.
The gym is a great place because it’s somewhere where you get hopefully a motivating environment. There is potential for better social interactions. You have people to help you out, jump in, spot you and much more. There is that community aspect to it as well.
There are various classes, it is not all just focused on weights and equipment. But the thing is, if you are at the same gym for quite a while, it can get a bit dreary and you can end up going through the motions sometimes if it’s the same environment day in and day out.
If you haven’t really switched up your training program, you come in and can end up spinning your wheels a little.
Switching it up at the Gym
The first thing is to look at maybe switching it up at the gym because your body can become super complacent and will basically want to exert the least amount of effort possible.
So, when you do the same work out all the time your body learns how to sort of manage that work out in the most efficient way, hence it becomes a little less effective. Especially if you are looking to improve your fitness, boost your lean muscle mass and drop body fat.
Your body will basically end up complacent and that is why you should constantly be switching up your workouts. Whether it’s changing the order of the exercises around, going through a cycling of lower rep phases, dropping it down lower into a higher strength phase or adding in a bunch of different exercises. Basically, the best workout out there is the one you haven’t done yet and that’s what you want.
You want your body to keep guessing. Therefore, the improvement in fitness, muscle, health markers and lean body fat is a response to the stimulus that has occurred. Your body reacts by going through all these different processes. The more you can vary and switch up your workout the better. Hence, the first thing would be, that if you are in the gym then start switching things up a little bit.
Majority of people probably and there is no fault in this, go to the gym to gain strength muscle. Obviously that is completely fine, to have your health in the back of your head. For some people, however, it’s a little more of a priority because they really need to start losing weight, increasing their flexibility and their muscle mass. But still, for the majority of people, it is about looking good. Again, nothing wrong with that.
But if you want to get beyond that and look into an all-around fitness experience and an overall healthy lifestyle, there are some benefits to getting out of the gym. People are doing this now, they are including this here and there and are finding a lot of different benefits from adding in various other forms of fitness that you don’t get inside the gym necessarily.
So if you have been to the same gym for a long period and it’s starting to feel the same all the time with the same scenery, the same equipment, the same walls and the same shows, you can get unmotivated and complacent. Hence, it is good to give your mind a mental reset sometimes. Just change that mental stimulation and it will give your fitness a real jumpstart.
So one of the first things is just simply getting outside. Obviously, if you live in warmer climates, you are good to go and can do this all year round. As opposed to people in colder climates who are completely stuck depending on the weather. Anyways, people should go outside and get away from all the artificial lighting, loud music, too much spandex, licra and neon colors.
It can be a good mental reset for you. No to mention, this time of the year going through January, especially into February and a little bit into march is when people tend to get the sickest. This tends to be when the flu season pops up the most and the more you are trapped inside the more chances of you getting sick.
As people are cooped up together, there are germs basically floating in the air. When you are working out at a huge club, you are essentially in a giant sweatbox and so the exposure to different potential viruses, flu germs or cold is a little more prevalent this time of the year. So that adds to another good reason to get outside into the outdoors. This can be anything from simple walking to hikes or grabbing your bike.
Some people are happy slugging away on a treadmill. It does however, become a little tough if that’s all you are doing especially if the weather is remotely decent enough to get outside. It’s not just about getting the fresh air but also sunlight as you need that vitamin D exposure.
People think that vitamin D is an actual vitamin, it is in fact a hormone and is synthesized from the rays of the sun. It is important for so many things as far as bone health, immune system and healthy functionality.
Along with the exposure to the good elements outside, if you are running, hiking or going off trails the constant changes in the environment such as the elevations and footing really engage your muscles in a different way then say steady-state cardio might.
You are engaging all those little stabilizer muscles from your feet all the way up through your body especially through your core. It’s basically a constantly changing and challenging terrain.
Another big advantage has to do with your mental reset. When you are outside and are constantly going through a changing landscape environment, your mind actually stays quite a bit sharper and more engaged because of the changing elevation, scenery and everything else.
It basically has your mind avoiding going into autopilot, makes you a lot more present and keeps your mind a lot more active. Hence being present in a work out is a very effective thing and a lot more stimulating than being stuck in a cardio studio having to look up at big screens watching crap off the E network. So getting outside cannot just change up the physical aspect of your workout.
But give you a mental clarity that comes from exposure to real elements, nature, terrain and an outdoor environment. Hence, it is one of the best reasons to do that and get going.
A few other things that you can do that are non-gym related are embracing things like yoga, Pilates or outdoor classes that are not typical like your normal workouts. In the case of yoga, it’s sort of a ‘don’t knock until you try it’ kind of a situation. If you have never engaged in any form of yoga before, you are missing out on one of the best workouts you may ever do.
It is quite beneficial as far as the intensity of it is concerned and the results you get from it such strength, flexibility, and even its ability as a stress reliever. It can actually eliminate toxins from the body. Options such as hot yoga is one of the tougher ones. You feel very humbled by the end of it.
If you have tried it then you know how the effects from yoga can then translate back into the gym because it helps you with your strength, flexibility, agility and range of motion. Therefore, you might find better results and effects once you get back into the gym. In addition to that, if you are playing sports or doing recreational activities, you will find that it translates into the sport you are playing.
Your coordination might get a little bit better, your core strength might be more honed in, your awareness of your body gets better, and your flexibility and speed might improve. Another yoga approach is called DDP yoga. It is more of an athletic based yoga that has more implications for things mentioned earlier like strength, flexibility and sports.
A lot of wrestlers for example have their careers cut short or they have to retire due to injury. DDP yoga has worked for a lot of people in these situations that are now back in the ring performing and looking better than they ever have. You can see how this is a very valuable thing and why people should start doing it. So if you are at a club or a gym, a lot of them will probably offer yoga.
Sometimes it is part of the programs and you have classes available in the fitness studio if you have one at your club or gym. Most clubs now a days offer yoga because of an increase in demand by people and they offer their spaces for it. If that’s something your gym does not offer then you can find little yoga shacks and yoga studios all over the place now.
It is definitely not hard to find them. Just google yoga in your area and you are guaranteed to find it. However, if that’s something you’re not ready for or you’re not sure then there are tons of amazing yoga apps, YouTube videos, DVD’s and stuff you can start with in your own home.
Even DDP yoga is highly recommended. Even simply starting with a YouTube video to get an idea of what the whole thing is like and then slowly progressing your way in. After that, you might be actually ready to jump in an actual studio or classes. Probably one of the best things you can do and a lot of people can do it as a non-gym and non-workouts facility type endeavour.
The next thing and it technically falls under the category of the gym is CrossFit. But cross fit is sort of independent of a gym. It still has equipment and weights but the setup is a little different. If you walked in you wouldn’t even necessarily know you’re in a gym compared to other ones because the equipment is a little different.
You’re not going to find cardio machines, elliptical machines, TV’s, music or bright colors. It tends to be a bit bare-boned, dripped down facility with basic weights. You will see things like different colored bumper plates, kettlebells, battle ropes and turf areas.
It is not a normal looking gym. However, now you’re looking into a much more motivating, intense, encouraging and a team-based environment. So if you are looking to move beyond muscle that just looks good that you have been working on in the gym with whatever exercises you’re pounding out, then CrossFit is for you.
Also if you are looking for sport-specific exercises and movements that can translate it into everyday life and other applications, then you will get that with CrossFit. Many of the exercises that you perform at the gym like arm curls or chest fly’s with dumbbells don’t have real-life applications or implications with sports.
However, with CrossFit you develop that real functional engagement and strength. Like yoga can enhance your fitness, life and carry over into lots of different areas. In CrossFit you do a lot of Olympic lifting and things like power cleans, squats, deadlifts and real hardcore movements.
That is why there is such a huge explosion in CrossFit that everyone from stay at home moms to senior citizens are doing it. Because they want that intense workout that’s got immediate feedback. You see immediate results, for example; as you start increasing weights, your form gets better, the exercises become more manageable and you feel fitter and stronger.
Technically a gym but a very different type. So you might want to step away from your regular gym and try this out for a little bit. You might get hooked on it or you might take a little bit of it and then apply it back to your normal workouts but this is something to definitely consider.
So the next thing that is a non-gym type of work out is recreational sports. Sometimes you just need to get those you know competitive juices flowing and still want to work out at the same time. If you are a former high end athlete or even just an athlete from your high school or college days, you might be missing that team comradery.
You might be missing that focus on performance instead of just slugging away at a normal gym. That’s where recreational sports are awesome. At the same time you know your kind of playing a low key game but it can be treated as much a workout as a competition, depending on what you play.
There are so many different leagues from pickup basketball to hockey. Softball is everywhere, there is indoor and outdoor soccer, tennis, squash clubs, flag football, ultimate Frisbee and tons of other sports. It’s something if you have been out and you played basketball in high school, it would be something you would want to get back into now.
As it is something you are comfortable with. There are also so many different levels of these leagues. You can jump in and you don’t necessarily have to be the best athlete. If you were an amazing athlete then there are probably levels for you that you can find there.
For people who have never played sports before but have always been interested in soccer or playing squash etc. and if you lack skill, there is still nothing stopping you from trying as hard as possible. A lot of times at these low levels of sports hustling and hard work really helps bridge that gap between people who are a little bit more talented and those who aren’t sure what they are doing. So hard work can really help elevate you as you learn to develop your skills and make progress.
If it’s a sport you have played before, you can jump right back in. If you are looking to try something new there are always lower levels that you can get started in and then progress from there. A lot of people love that team dynamic again as a cornerstone of their workout for a week and that social time. Just to be part of a team and to get that encouragement that you will not necessarily get when you are by yourself at the gym.
So if you put it all together it’s a really good combination of workouts as it’s something that mentally stimulates you because of how aware you have to be during sports along with the fact that you have other team mates to rely on and who rely on you. When you are competing in sports whether you are new or not and you are playing tennis or football etc., you are engaging in fitness in its purest sense.
The idea that your body has to react instantly, stay coordinated, use all of its strength and be aware in an area with other people is everything. This is pure fitness whether it’s you chasing down a drop shot in tennis or turning over the ball in basketball. You stop thinking and your body just reacts and engages.
That is real fitness and that is the real work out. So when you get into these sports, they are fun and they are meant to be fun. And because you are competing in a fun and team atmosphere you are not even going to realize that you were working out until after because you are just required to participate, be involved and stay active.
Squash is highly recommended if you are looking for a high intensity work out. It requires a lot of lunging, core strength, twisting, reaching for drop shots and running around at a high pace. You can play it as a warm-up to your normal gym routine as it engages every part of your body.
So in the end if you love going to the gym then embrace it but if you are looking for a change, it is always a good time to embrace all those fitness options that reside outside the gym.
These days’ people seek out a well-rounded fitness experience. Pounding weights out can also be fun but people are now looking for real health, wellness and are looking to encompass all areas of fitness. This includes not just physical fitness but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually and there are many options out there now that can provide that.
With the recent explosion of CrossFit, it has become very accessible and mainstream. This does not mean leaving the gym for good but participating in some of these other activities can really give your fitness and whole life a boost.
You will end up getting more motivation and abilities. Hence, when you get back into the gym, you will find your results becoming enhanced because you have brought back with you those new experiences and stimulus. You might even find yourself not going back to the gym anymore as you are embracing these other options.
However, the gym is still a great place where you have access to millions of dollars of equipment for a couple of dollars a day. It can instil a kind of discipline in you if you have a real workout program and schedule. At the end, embrace all the other options and try your best to combine them into your fitness lifestyle.
Wrapping It Up
I hope you can see how fitness outside the gym is a very valuable asset, and as great as a fitness club is, you don’t have to depend on it to get as fit and healthy as possible.