Wellbeing

How To Make Gains Without A Gym Membership

Gym memberships are expensive. They can definitely be “worth it” if you go often enough, and there is a lot to be said for the motivation they provide, but when they’re easily over $100 each month and have a whole lot of complex cancellation policies (the trickiest of all being that painful moment of fronting up to the gym manager and asking to fill out their 8-page cancellation document) it’s worth thinking about their objective value. Here are five super easy ways to ease back into life without a membership.

#1 Take the bus, mow the lawn, take the dog for a walk, take the washing off the line, take the bins out!

There are so many ordinary little changes you can make to your lifestyle that, over time, can make a big difference to your wellbeing. It might not get you “swole” as such, but definitely fit enough to notice how many more reps you can do before losing your breath.

Unless you can afford house staff (in which case, why are you reading this article!?) there’s no excuse that you “don’t have time” to get your chores done. The good news is, according to the ABC’s Health & Wellbeing site, housework and gardening burn kilojoules even more effectively than walking your dog would. Mowing the lawn, hanging out laundry, and scrubbing floors all clock in at well over 1000kj burned per hour.

Walking isn’t to be poo-pah-ed either, though. Choosing the bus or train over driving to work might make you walk an extra 15 minutes in the morning, and then 15 minutes in the afternoon, and there’s a wealth of research to show how much 30 minutes of walking each day can significantly increase aerobic fitness.

#2 Bodyweight exercises are all-the-rage for good reason

Sweat with Kayla, Ashy Bines, Commando Fit – all these apps are getting downloaded like hotcakes and they aren’t cheap. There are issues with a lot of them (mainly that a whole of people who run them don’t actually have any qualifications to be giving health and dietary advice) but that doesn’t mean they’re useless. The exercise regimes they list don’t really require any unusual equipment but still get good results, and it checks out. “Bodyweight” exercises (where you use the weight of your own body to build resistance, rather than machines and equipment – think burpees, squats, and push-ups) are often better for the body because you don’t risk the chance of overloading yourself and doing real muscle damage. There are almost infinite variations on bodyweight exercises, and it’s even effective to mix up speed, intervals, and reps. The best part is that you take your body wherever you go! No excuses!

#3 Tally what you’re saving by avoiding the gym and reallocate some of it to fitness investments

Kmart will sell you a pair of dumbbells for less than a weeks’ gym fees. Get yourself a good rubber mat for the floor so that you can nail all those body weight exercises you have no excuse not to do. A good pair of sneakers and some cool new sweatbands are easier to justify without that crippling fortnightly direct-debit obliterating your account balance. Lots of people say that the main thing they “get” out of a gym membership is the motivation and structure. If you’re bored cycling the same neighbourhood loop and can’t stand the thought of another round of sit-ups, go get some roller blades! An iPod shuffle or decent wireless headphones are each about a months’ work of gym fees. Finding investments that will keep you excited to work out are a much better use of your money in the long-term too.

#4 Be your own Personal Trainer

Most gyms offer a couple of complimentary PT sessions when you sign up, and most of us just use that opportunity to talk to a ripped professional about all our good intentions, then they take you around and show you how to use a few big, confusing machines without hurting yourself. Save a lot of PT money by talking to yourself in the mirror about how awesome you are, and take steps to make sure you’ve got your form right to avoid injury. Monitor your posture against easily-searchable diagrams and videos. The jury is out on whether warming up and down actually prevents injury – but we know that technique is paramount. You’re not gonna get gains if you’re twisting your ankle or busting your back every other month. Care for your own body the way a personal trainer gets paid to care about your body.

#5 The fuel in the tank shouldn’t change

You could go to the most expensive gym in the city, twice daily, but if you’re putting Maccas and tinnies in the tank, it won’t do much good. The best and most sustainable way to get gains is through subtle and gradual lifestyle shifts. I know, I know, you don’t wanna hear that, but it’s true. Cutting back on alcohol and eating more veggies are no-brainers – you don’t need to surround yourself with mirrors and the sweaty bodies of strangers to know that.


Bri Lee is a Brisbane-based writer and the Founding Editor of Hot Chicks with Big Brains. Her first book, Eggshell Skull will be released in early 2018.