Are there ways to work out without a gym? YES! As a group fitness instructor who doesn’t have a gym membership, I am living proof that you can get a great workout every single day in the comfort of your own home. With these easy tips, you’ll be able to start your very own fitness routine at home in a matter of days. Ditch those expensive gym memberships and join me in this awesome at-home fitness revolution!
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Is it possible to lose weight and get toned without ever setting foot in a gym? YES! With the right tips and tricks, you can work out at home and feel great about doing it! Welcome to The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Working Out at Home, written by an ACE certified group fitness instructor. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about getting a great workout in the comfort of your own home! No expensive gyms or fitness studios necessary. This guide also assumes you won’t be using or purchasing any big expensive equipment, such as a treadmill or elliptical. With this easy beginner’s guide, you can learn ways to workout at home that require little more than an exercise mat and maybe some hand weights. Easy peasy!
But how do I get fit without going to a gym?
I want to share a crazy little secret with you. I’m a group fitness instructor AND a health & fitness blogger and guess what! I don’t even have a gym membership! Insane, right? So how do I keep in shape? I do all my workouts at home (except for running, which I obviously do outside 😉) If I can do it, so can you! Staying in shape is a huge part of my job, so trust me when I say, it is absolutely possible to keep up an awesome workout routine without ever leaving home. Not only is it possible– it’s actually preferable in some ways. Research has shown that working out at home improves adherence to physical activity, which basically means that people who find ways to exercise at home are more likely to stick to a fitness routine! This means you can get fit and lose weight faster and more consistently.
So, are you ready to start an awesome new workout routine in your very own living room (or basement or spare bedroom or whatever!) I’ll break it down for your step-by-step! Let’s get started!
How do I Start Working Out at Home?
1) Choose a Designated Workout Space
If you want to start working out at home on a regular basis, you’ll need a designated space to do it in. You should choose a space in which you can comfortably move at least 3-5 large steps forward, backward, and to each side without hitting anything. Exactly how much space you need will depend on the sort of workouts you choose to do at home (i.e. Zumba takes up more space than yoga), as well as how much space is realistically available. I’ve found that on average a workout space of 6 by 6 feet to be ideal for cardio/aerobic workouts without machines (i.e. treadmills, etc). For yoga, pilates, and strength training, a space of 4 by 4 feet is ideal, but you may need even less depending on the individual workout.
The best rooms to find workout space in are typically basements, spare bedrooms, living rooms, offices, and master bedrooms. The more space you can give yourself, the greater variety of at home workouts you’ll be able to do. However, don’t stress too much if you don’t have as much space as you would like. I lived in a tiny 350 square foot studio in grad school where I had less than 3 x 4 feet of workout space and I still mainted an awesome at home fitness routine (including cardio!) I just had to watch where I was going and take smaller steps. 😉
2) Create a Good Workout Surface
Now that you’ve chosen the right space, creating a good exercise surface is the next step to effectively working out at home. This step is super important for creating a safe workout environment. Choosing the right surface protects both you and your floor! A lot of people ignore this step when working out at home and end up scratching/scuffing/destroying their floor or, worse, hurting themselves. It can also hurt your performance when you workout on the wrong kind of surface, so don’t skip this step!
Appropriate exercise flooring absorbs shock in order to reduce negative impact on the joints. Here’s a quick rundown of the best and worst surfaces for working out at home:
- BEST CHOICE: Hardwood (wooden or synthetic)– good shock absorption for decreased injury risk
- GOOD CHOICE: Tile, Vinyl, or Laminate- hard, even surfaces
- BAD CHOICE: Carpet– uneven surface, easy to trip and fall
- WORST CHOICE: Concrete– very little shock absorbent and dangerous in case of falls
As you can see above, hardwood floors are the best choice for working out at home followed by other hard surfaces (with the exception of concrete). Carpet is not recommended because it’s easy for the edge shoes to get caught during movement.
Once you’ve chosen the best space and flooring for working out at home, my recommendation is to purchase some sort of workout mat. This is the one I have at my house and it works perfectly! I’ve had it for years and it keeps both me and my floor safe. I don’t generally recommend doing an exercises that require shoes right on your floor because you could damage it. A workout mat also ensures you have the proper traction, so you don’t slip. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, I had this exercise mat for a while. It’s not as good at Square36 one (it slipped and the pieces broke apart easily), but it did the trick for working out at home without too much investment. I’ve also heard good things about Gorilla Mats for working out at home, but haven’t personally tried one.
3) Gather the Right (or no) Equipment
So, now that you have the right space and a safe floor to work out at home on, this is the fun part! You get to pick out the equipment you’ll need to make the space your own. The type of equipment you’ll choose really just depends on what kind of at home workouts you want to do and what your budget is. If you’re planning on just doing cardio to youtube videos, you may not need any equipment at all (besides an exercise mat and a laptop/TV). If you want to do strength training too, you may need to add more equipment. The good news is that it’s all up to you!
Here are some suggestions:
- For Cardio Workouts:
- TV and DVD Player (if you want to do DVD or YouTube workouts)
- Exercise mat, like the one discussed above– this is essential for cardio since you’ll be wearing shoes and moving around a lot.
- That’s really it for cardio, unless you want to invest in larger equipment like a treadmill, elliptical machine, or stationary bike (if you’re just planning on using something like this, you may not need the exercise mat)
- For Strength Training:
- Dumbbells– I recommend high quality but inexpensive dumbbells like these here. You should aim to get at least 3 different sizes for an effective workout. Some muslces can handle heavier weights (such as chest muscles) and others might require lighter weights (such as tricep muscles). It’s also good to go with a weight you’re comfortable with plus one weight above and one weight below. The lighter weight will be for days where you’re sore or have less energy. The heavier weight will be for progressing your workout.
- Kettlebells– Kettlebells are awesome for arms, legs, and even abs! I recommend these here in the sizes you’re most comfortable with.
- Medicine Balls– Great for both strength and rehabiliation training. I love this set here.
- Resistance Bands– One of my favorite ways to strength train (it’s harder than it looks). I love resistance bands because they’re cost-effective, they don’t take up too much space, and there’ SO many exercises you can do with them. This makes them the perfect working out at home companion! I recommend this set here.
- Yoga Mat– For floor exercises, such as push ups or supermans
- For yoga, pilates, and other mat-based work:
- Yoga Mat– Necessary for mat-based work. This one here is inexpensive and durable. If you’re a serious yogi, I recommend this one. It’s super high-quality.
- Yoga Blocks– It’s nice to have some yoga props at home, if you choose to do yoga on a regular basis. I like these here.
- Pilates Ring– Great for toning! Check out this one here.
- Yoga Strap– Awesome for more challenging poses. This one is great working out at home!
- Pilates Reformer– If you’re super into pilates and know how to use a reformer, I recommend this one here. It’s a larger piece of equipment, but useful.
While it’s always nice to have some equipment for working out at home, I do want to emphasize that it’s not necessary! You don’t need fancy equipment in order to get a great workout at home. A lot of serious strength moves, such a lunges, squats, and push-ups require no equipment at all. You can also make your own hand weights using water bottles or cans (check out this article here). I’ve never personally done that, but I know some people who swear by it. Get creative and decide what YOU want in your at-home workout space.
4) Choose your Workout
This is the best part about working at home– you can choose ANY workout you want! You’re not a slave to convenient times at the gym or at the mercy of an instructor. You get to make all the choices yourself! One of the most common questions I’m asked is “can home workouts be effective?” YES– absolutely! You just need to use the right resources. If you’re more of a beginner to working out, I recommend using either workout DVDs or YouTube videos, so that you can learn new moves and observe correct form.
DVDs are my personal favorite of the ways to workout at home– they’re just so easy. Here are some of my personal favorites for different fitness levels:
You can also search YouTube, Pinterest, and Google for a plethora of free workouts you try at home. There’s tons of different ways to workout at home– it’s up to you to explore different things and decide what works for you. Don’t be afraid to mix it up!
Accountability is super important to keeping up with any fitness routine, particularly when you’re working out at home. Here are some ways to keep yourself accountable and make sure you’re working out regularly:
- Workout at home with a friend or family member
- Use a calendar book to keep track of your workout
- Choose days and times throughout the week for your workout and stick to it no matter what!
- Reward yourself with healthy self-care (an at-home facial, a small piece of dark chocolate, etc.) for completing your workouts for the week
Remember working out at home should make it EASIER for you to stick to your workout routine. You don’t have to drive anywhere or even get dressed when you’re working out at home. NO EXCUSES! You can do this! 😀
Congratulations! You’re now well- equipped with all the information you need to get an awesome workout in the comfort of your own home. As you can see, there are plenty of ways to work out without a gym and this guide is just a start! Check out these other fitness-related posts for more inspiration:
Deck of Cards Workout: The Exciting Workout with Fast Results! (an awesome at-home workout you can try in your new home gym! 😉)
Want to become a certified group fitness instructor like me? Click here for $100 off ACE’s Group Fitness Instructor Pro Advantage Certification with the code GOACEGFI (cannot be combined with any other promos).