Gym-Free Ways to Get Fit

Maybe you're bored with the gym or you're looking for ways to cut costs. Maybe you prefer exercising outdoors or you're ready for something fresh. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of ways to get fit without the gym.

We've broken down our favorite workouts for city, beach, country, and suburb dwellers.

City Dwellers:

  • The city is the perfect place to take a long walk. Pick a destination like your job, favorite bookstore, or a friend's house and hit the sidewalk. Keep your pace brisk enough to get your blood pumping, but not so fast that you can't carry on a conversation.
  • Join a team. Whether your sport is basketball, swimming, soccer, lacrosse, or dodge ball, cities offer a wide variety of sports team appropriate for all levels. Check online or check in with your community center for teams forming in your area. If the season is already underway, ask if you can be a substitute player or if there are enough extras to form a second team.
  • Hit the track. Your local high school or college campus track provides a perfect running surface, softer than concrete (so it's easy on the legs), but firmer and smoother than dirt tracks. You can count off the miles as you circle the track, then use the field for jumping, kicking a ball, and other fitness activities.

Beach Dwellers:

  • Swimming is one of nature's best total-body fitness plans, but open water spaces like lakes and oceans have unique challenges that are only appropriate for strong swimmers. If your swimming skills are up to it, catch a wave or aim for the far shore for a completely natural workout.
  • Sand hiking/jogging. Kick off your shoes and dig in your heels as you walk, jog, or run along the ocean's shore. The soft sandy surface adds extra traction and a greater challenge to your workout. With the ocean at your side, you won't notice how hard you're working.


  • If you live in the land of parks and green spaces, start off by walking from home to the playground. Then do a playground workout. Swing on the monkey bars, climb stairs, and jump on benches. Use the park as your own personal circuit training system.
  • Use playground equipment for bodywork/strength training—use climbing structures for pull-ups, benches for triceps dips, and grassy fields for lunges, squats, and pushups.
  • Go bike riding after work or ditch your car and become a bike commuter.
  • Join a group to do Tai Chi or yoga in the park. Log on to to find groups near you.

Country Living:

  • Can there be any better and more fun way to get in shape than hiking up trails, down mountains, and around the lake? Sure there is. Just add a backpack and some camping gear.
  • Mountain biking is an exciting workout if you have the right equipment and a little experience. Be prepared to get dirty and for a certain amount of danger. Mountain biking is an adventure junkie's dream workout.

If you finish any of these workouts with some at-home strength training and stretching, you can get just as good a workout as if you'd gone to the gym.

Ben Greenfield reviewed this article.