In this special guest feature, Paige Johnson, a personal trainer and regular contributor at, shares tips to get fit without a gym.
If the thought of spending an hour at the gym using complicated equipment makes you run for the hills, consider getting fit in more fun ways. You don’t have to hit the elliptical machine to get in a workout. Many opportunities surround you, if you just look at them differently. Any activity that raises your heart rate and pushes your body outside its comfort zone can be exercise, including hula hooping or walking a dog.

1. Biking

Biking is great because it can be tailored to your personal fitness level. Conquering hills and reaching higher speeds can challenge you to push harder. If you need to take it slow, even a relaxing bike ride can burn around 281 calories per hour, according to Men’s Fitness. Although you can use a stationary bike at the gym or in your home, getting on the real thing and enjoying the great outdoors is more fun! You can bike the road or sidewalk, or you can bike a trail.

2. Hula Hooping

With a little practice, you can utilize a hula hoop for a fun full-body workout. Udemy notes that hula hooping uses as many as 30 of your muscles, including your back, abs, thighs, and calves. A hula hoop workout that integrates your arms and legs can burn up to 600 calories in an hour. As your brain works with your muscles to keep the hoop going, you’re building coordination and motor skills. Try out some exercise DVDs that incorporate hula hoops into the workout routine.

3. Dog Walking

Through its companionship, a dog can lower its owner’s stress levels. A dog can also help its owner stay in shape. Since walking a dog is an inherent part of dog ownership, you can let your dog do his business while you get exercise. A University of Missouri study found that overweight participants who walked their dogs for 20 minutes five days a week lost an average of 14 pounds. If you don’t own a dog, volunteer to walk your neighbor’s dog. You can even earn cash for walking dogs!

4. Tree Top Obstacle Course

A ropes course in the treetops is sure to get your adrenaline flowing. Treetop obstacle courses feature shaky bridges and platforms, slender planks, and tightropes that you must cross to get through the course. All of these challenges will work your whole body while building strength, coordination, and balance. You can go alone or with a group of friends.

5. Pilates

Pilates is defined as “a method of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements” by Mayo Clinic. It enhances core strength, especially your abs, while putting very little pressure on your joints. It will also improve stability, muscle control, and endurance. Since Pilates requires a lot of concentration, you can clear your mind while you workout.

6. Swimming

Looking for a way to knock out cardio and strength training in one exercise? Give swimming a try. Fitness Magazines says, “In swimming, if you aren’t moving constantly, you’re sinking.” That’s some intense cardio. And since water is about 800 times denser than air, your muscles are under constant resistance, resulting in strength training. Being in water also means less wear and tear on your joints, and the arm motions of swimming will work muscles that are generally hard to exercise. While all exercises release endorphins that help lower stress levels, swimming releases its own special endorphins that are guaranteed to help you feel relaxed.
Don’t force yourself through boring exercises. Try these six fun exercise ideas, or come up with more ideas of your own. There’s no reason you shouldn’t have fun while you get fit.
About the Author
Paige Johnson is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast and avid cyclist. She enjoys writing about fitness and health for Learn Fit.