There are plenty (sometimes it seems like an overwhelming number) of ways to workout in this day and age. Options such as spin classes, Zumba, cross fit, pop physique, aerial yoga, and even pole dancing have been cropping up over the years and are becoming more and more conventional as “alternative workouts.” However, these all typically entail spending money (sometimes a great deal), being in a gym environment surrounded by sweaty strangers, and planning around your no doubt already full schedule. But, maybe lining up with someone shouting instructions at you while using confounding equipment has never been your cup of tea. Maybe existing conventional workouts are never fun for you or they simply can’t fit into your personal lifestyle or daily routines. Or, maybe alternative workout facilities are not available in your area. The following even more “alternative” ideas listed below needn’t necessarily be done in a facility, or require special equipment, or cost a lot or requires special skills or knowledge to execute. They can be done in alternative spaces such as at home, outside, in a park, or even in your bedroom. They can be done alone, or with friends if you prefer working out with company! It’s especially appealing to introduce a wide repertoire that you enjoy, and rotate them often to keep your interest fresh. Here are 15 alternative ways to workout.
Yoga may not seem like a “tough” workout. (Indeed, it doesn’t typically send your heart rate racing, unless you are really out of shape). However, it relies heavily on great control of one’s body through rigorous poses and even more so relies on strength training. You absolutely don’t have to know the name of every position or put your foot behind your head. There is something in yoga everyone can do. (Just look up “corpse pose!”) Even if you still need a typical cardio fix, adding yoga to a traditional workout will provide an opportunity for a cool down and to increase muscle flexibility. Basics, easily found in books and online, will aid in strengthening and lengthening, creating toned muscle. There is no heavy breathing and sweating, just slow, deliberate movements done to peaceful music, who could say no? You’ll be surprised by how practicing yoga regularly will silently create muscle stamina.
Yes, you heard me right. Cleaning itself involves plenty of physical activity, and there’s no reason rigorous cleaning found in almost all chores can’t be counted as part of your daily exercise. Even though the moves don’t have a name, you’re not necessarily in workout clothes, and you’re definitely not at a gym, it seems just about any chore you can imagine requires physical movement. Using Windex instead of weights doesn’t make the sweat on your brow (and anywhere else) any less valid. Especially chores that tend to utilize more full-body movement, such as sweeping and mopping, washing windows, and even repeatedly bending to pick up and put things away, gets those steps in. The best part about chores as exercise is that your home gets clean in the meantime! You can feel incredible about two things: taking care of your house and your body!
Simple as that. Humans evolved to our current upright positions for a reason: to travel great distances on foot. (Who are we to deny our ancestors what we were designed to do?) This is probably the most diverse item on this list. How many ways can you walk? You may ask. It’s not in the how, but the where, when, and who. It’s the most diverse in that it can be done just about anywhere. Inside, outside, in a park, in a museum, on a mountain, on a treadmill, in a mall, on a road, from one end of your house to the other, as I’ve done when my New England weather hasn’t agreed. The next best thing is that can be done by just about anyone. Young, old, even those disabled that can’t walk can still move, if wheelchair accessible, as well as people at any level of physical fitness. You do not need any special equipment, shoes, or know-how. You can make it a social activity with a group of friends, or walk alone, listening to music. Why not go back to basics and do something really alternative to a gym membership: walking and hiking!
I can hear the excited outcries now: “I can work out by using the Internet?” The answer is, of course! Provided you look for the right sites, sources, and of course actually use and follow them! Today, the Internet is the best source of information and there is a wealth of workout information available. (You’re reading this article about alternatively working out on the Internet, aren’t you?) YouTube is an excellent resource for workouts. It gives you access to a huge variety of professional workout videos that you can subscribe to (for free) with varying topics, styles, and difficulty levels. There is even the old Richard Simmons workouts available, Just Dance and Zumba videos, as well as hundreds of workout channels to browse that you can throw on, step back and follow along in the privacy of your own room. If following videos aren’t your style, simply search for ideas, pictures, or, like you’re doing now, read articles and most importantly–implement the ideas!
11. Video Games
If you were excited by the previous item, you must really be jumping out of your seat now. Exercise with video games? Sign me UP! With advances in motion controls and even more recently, virtual reality, something that was previously a stagnant activity is becoming increasingly more physical with these technological advances. Consoles such as Nintendo’s Wii U and Switch, XBox’s Kinect, and PlayStation Move are gateways to games that include fitness. There are dozens to choose from, such as Wii Fit Plus, Just Dance, Dance Dance Revolution, Zumba, My Fitness Coach, and EA Sports Active to name a few. The wonderful thing about the gaming aspect is that it can really feel like you’re just playing a game and having fun whilst working up a sweat. This is becoming even more prevalent in the emerging and quickly growing field of virtual reality. With equipment like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony PlayStation VR (among others), you feel like you are really in the game. If you ever have the opportunity to experience VR–you’ll be surprised at how time can fly while you’re in there, and how sore you’ll be after!
10. “Tricking” Yourself
Now, how does this one work? Hear me out. Live in a two story home? Leave something you need–intentionally–on the opposite floor. Give yourself a reason to eventually have to get up and run up or down stairs. Whenever you drive somewhere, purposely pick one of the farthest parking spots. These little things add up more than you think! Take alternative transportation, for example bike or skateboard instead of driving somewhere; you will have no other option but to go back home the same way. You can also move, whether it be dancing, walking or skipping for the length of a curated playlist or album. Suddenly there will be silence and you’ll realize your workout is over! It’s also a good way to make sure you allow enough (but not too much time) out of your schedule for whatever workout you happen to do that playlist.
9. Kid’s Toys
And I’m not talking about fidget spinners. I’m talking about hula-hoops, skip-its, jump ropes, scooters, exercise bouncy balls, and the like. With little to no modification, these inexpensive pieces of equipment can be used by anyone at any age. There are even hula-hooping classes (for adults) cropping up, introducing the art of “hooping.” Jump ropes have been around for ages, being used by pro athletes for the cardio and dexterity. If you’ve always had trouble maneuvering that rope, there are alternative jumping toys. One example is the skip-it, which even counts your hops. With a little creativity, go for it! Why should kids have all the fun?
Seems silly at first, but even trampolines are gaining popularity for their exercise benefits instead of being seen as a simple child’s toy. There are even “Jump Parks” designed for all ages that include a wall-to-wall trampoline floor for folks to have fun on and workout at the same time. Personal-sized trampolines are especially effective as they are more cost-effective and can be used in one’s own home! There is even an added health benefit to “joggalining,” as I call it, (jogging on a trampoline) in that the “soft” ground is easier on your skeletal system. Instead of your bones slamming repeatedly on asphalt, they are bounced back, all for the better. This is especially beneficial if you are heavier set as it will save wear and tear on your body!
Ok, this one’s pretty obvious. And of course dancing is exercise. You’re moving. Your whole body. Probably for a good long time, more than likely getting your heart rate up, and even sweating, eventually! So if you’ve spent the night tearing it up at the club, and the next day, someone asks, “did you workout yesterday?” You can certainly answer with a resounding “yes!” Dancing as exercise has been around a great while, and videos and dancing video games readily are being found in more and more homes. However, all you require is your body and a good bop. This is another exercise that’s age-inclusive, skill-inclusive and can be done anywhere, with a group or alone in your room. And, it’s just plain fun.
No, we’re not talking monopoly. (Although have you ever been in the midst of a really heated game? Anyway–) We are talking about channeling your inner child again with games like tag, Frisbee, Twister, kick the can, capture the flag, and more! Between a sport and monopoly, we have games like this. They are truly fun and especially good with a big group of friends to join! These games are inexpensive and either you or someone you know has the equipment for them! This is yet another thing that doesn’t have to have a set field or building to play in; just as long as there’s plenty of space. You’ll socialize, have a good time, and get a hearty workout in, all while working with friends towards the common goal of the game. This brings us nicely to number five…
Who hasn’t played at least one sport in their life? Admittedly this one does take a matter of planning, equipment, and location, but once that’s settled it’s a wonderful, socially inclusive and entertaining way to exercise. This is particularly great if you enjoy physical activities in a large group or highly social settings. There’s something just so wholesome about a team sport; it makes a lonely routine at the gym pale in comparison. The competitive aspect is especially appealing in getting you to move that bod. More traditional workouts are missing that alternative element of competition and incentive to perform your best. That need to win is just too motivating!
4. Resistance Training
Contrary to what you might think, we are not talking about resisting working out. It’s about using literally only your body to exercise. (–Apart from walking and dancing, that is.) This can easily be done by anyone, anywhere, without needing anything but yourself! Resistance training focuses on using your body as the tool in the workout. Using your own weight in actions such as wall push-ups, bridges, planks, lunges, squats, –anything that sets your muscles to fight against gravity. Moves are easily found in books and online–and can be done alone in your pajamas, on a tree or bench at the park, or, in tandem with a friend acting as your counterweight!
3. Reward Based (Not food!)
What’s better than rewarding yourself with a slice of cake for a good workout? Denying that non-nutritious setback for something that won’t ruin your plan of staying (or getting) fit! Incentive-based tasks are proven to be more effective than punishment-based tasks. If you aren’t a fan of working out (or are a fan of incentives) take some time to think of some appealing (not unhealthy) rewards for completing an exercise. Purchasing something small you’ve had your eye on, planning a luxurious bath or massage, treating yourself to an hour of uninterrupted reading, going for a drive, taking a day off, buying tickets to a show, playing a round of your favorite app game, or allowing yourself to watch an episode from your favorite series are all fine examples of healthy rewards! It’s interesting to see how many “treats” you can come up for yourself, both big and small. Use this system and you’ll find yourself getting the obstacle of the workout done and out of the way for that well-deserved reward!
This activity should be an obvious alternative to your regular workouts. A pool or a lake is an especially good place for doing exercise motions in a weightless environment, which is even more beneficial for the elderly, disabled or obese. Although you do need “equipment” for this one, (a body of water,) there are so many ways to swim. You can go to a public pool, a gym pool, a hotel pool, (some hotels will offer non-guests one days’ use of the pool for a small fee) a lake, the ocean, or even a large backyard pool. Full movement of your limbs and body against the resistance of the water is a wonderful alternative to weights and running on a treadmill. And, it’s so fun, soothing, and relaxing to be in the water!
1. While Waiting
“Waiting? Waiting for what?” You may ask. Answer: while waiting for, well, anything. Do squats during that two-minute nightly toothbrush. See how many jumping jacks you can do while you wait for the microwave to finish. Do toe lifts while waiting in line. Jog in place while you wait for a friend. Lift something around you (i.e. a heavy book, etc.) while you sit through commercials. Every little moment you’re waiting, doing nothing, is a missed opportunity to cure boredom, make time pass, and do something proactive for your health and fitness.