Family Health

Don’t Want to Join a Gym? Then Don’t!

Jan 5, 2017

Imagine this: you're at a car dealership. You intend to test drive a popular mid-size model, based on certain recommendations and reviews. A kind and knowledgeable sales associate takes stock of your needs and nice-to-haves. But then, instead of ushering you into the driver's seat, the associate suggests something unexpected. "Have you considered carpooling, bike-sharing or an electric scooter instead?"

I'm that sales associate. But instead of selling fuel-efficient compacts, I sell shiny new gym memberships.

Every January, resolutioners come into the club in droves. I get it. You want to "lose the belly", "get in shape" and "feel stronger". And that's great. Many of you will find the traditional or boutique gym a fantastic solution that checks everything off your list: convenience, adequate equipment, motivating classes, personal training and amenities. But what if your interests or lifestyle don't fit the gym mold? Then don't join the gym. Seriously, don't sweat it. Here are five ways to get active and take your fitness to the next level, without a gym membership.

1. Fitness Studios

A trending alternative to the big-box gym, smaller niche studios typically offer a robust schedule of group fitness classes. Whether they specialize in one, or combine a mix of disciplines (eg. bootcamp, boxing, rowing, cycling, barre, yoga), you can normally get away from annual contracts and benefit from a greater sense of community.
GREAT FOR: Moving workouts indoors for winter; refreshing a stale routine; cross-training; developing new skills; a more personal approach.

2. Dance Classes & Workouts

Dancing is a fantastic — and often overlooked — workout. Gain strength with ballet, breakdance, or pole dance classes. Burn serious calories with jazz, hip hop, salsa, swing, and Caribbean-inspired styles. Progress in ballroom or tap lessons and perhaps even perform! 
BUDGET TIP: If affordability is top priority, try a community centre class or follow a dance workout video at home.

3. Sport & Recreation

Games and recreation are natural ways for the sporty, outdoorsy and fun-loving to stay active without one painstaking minute on a dreaded treadmill. Cycle to work on mild days. Play hockey or dodge ball one night a week. Ski or snowshoe on weekends. Suggest ice-skating or indoor rock climbing for your next date. SCHEDULING TIP: Weave activities into social time with friends, quality time with the kids, or "we time" with your partner.

4. Run, Cycling & Lifting Clubs

Get more out of your runs, rides or lifts by training with a club. The direction, accountability, camaraderie, and healthy competition within the group can definitely elevate your performance. At the very least, you'll have like-minded people to chat with while training.
BEGINNER TIP: Don't wait until you're "ready". Many clubs are beginner-friendly and members often have a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion to share.

5. Home Gyms & In-Home Personal Training

When the gym workouts are right, but the environment is off, your home may be the answer. Train solo, or with an in-home personal trainer, in the privacy of your own space. Go big with a functional trainer set-up, or keep it simple with few versatile accessories. And make use of your garage, backyard, or the roads, parks, and trails around you.
GREAT FOR: New parents, busy execs, retirees, or anyone for whom scheduling, crowds or accessibility are an issue.

So which is the right vehicle for you? The one that fits your needs and which you'll use consistently. You may consider a gym membership down road but for now, whichever route you choose, I wish you the best in revving up your fitness this season.

As always, please consult a medical professional before starting a new exercise regimen!

Article Author Debbie King
Debbie King

Read more from Debbie here.

Debbie King (aka SUPAFITMAMA) is a Toronto-based masters athlete, influencer, freelance writer, wife and mother of one. At age 42, she is training toward her goal of becoming a 2020 World Masters Athletics track and field champion. In her work as a writer and influencer, Debbie creates powerful content and connections in female fitness, sport, wellness and culture. Body positivity, inclusion and representation are strong themes throughout. As a regular contributor for CBC Parents, she explores a range of healthy living topics for individuals and Canadian families. Follow her journey at and on Instagram and Twitter.

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