EDGE Magazine Story: Gymless Training

It is with great regularity that I hear people say that they hate going to the gym.  At first  I thought they hated exercising; but then I started asking for more clarification on the statement.  Yes, some of those people do hate exercising but not all of them.  A lot of people love to exercise – they just don’t want to do it in a gym.  For some people a gym membership is too costly; for others the gym atmosphere is intimidating.  If you are in the right gym, it can be downright irritating.  Or maybe a person just likes the great outdoors.  For whatever reason, training outside of the gym is on the rise and there are a lot of options open to everyone!

Train at Home.  With all of the different varieties of workout dvds, all you need is a television set and a large living room.  You will need some tools to follow each specific workout but the cost of those instruments is small.  If you are interested in training in yoga or pilates you will need a yoga matt, a strap, maybe a yoga block.  Pilates dvds require a matt and a toning ring.  All of this is easily stored and portable (in case you want to go workout in the park).  If weightlifting is more your style, you can buy adjustable weights (Bowflex and Powerblock are popular among weightlifters) or, if just starting out, buy light handweights at Modells or Sports Authority.  If space is a concern, skip the weights and use resistance bands.  A doorjam pullup bar will come in handy, as will a yoga ball.  Homeowners who don’t have to deal with the restrictions of apartment life might go a step further by turning their garage, basement or spare room into a home gym.  That involves more money but it brings more options: a flatbench, more weights, a machine like a bike or a treadmill – the options open to you are varied and many, depending on your income and your space.  Of course, the upside to being an apartment dweller is you don’t need a treadmill: there is a staircase to run up and down and it is really effective.

Train Outdoors.  If there is a park or a playground, there is a gym.  All you need is an open space and a gym bag with some accessories.  When training outdoors, I use park benches to do step-ups, jungle gyms to do pull-ups and I run on the track.  I travel with an agility ladder, a jump rope, resistance bands and a medicine ball.  You can put together a great interval circuit, using these things to work legs, upper body and do cardio.  The resistance bands come in, particularly, handy because you can wrap them around a tree or a jungle gym to do standing presses or you can hook them over a tree branch or jungle gym to do pulldowns.  You can do a bicep superset by doing resistance band outside curls and jungle gym bicep pullups.  You can do a tricep superset using the park bench for dips and the resistance bands for overhead extensions.  The great thing about training out of doors is that you set the tone of your work – it can be anything you want; and you get fresh air in your lungs and sun on your face.  It’s like playtime, only as a grown up.


Take a Class.  Thanks to Living Social and Groupon, there are tons of thirty or forty dollar classes you can take that won’t necessitate your buying a gym membership.  See if you can hook a bootcamp class.  It’s fun, you will learn new things and the people there aren’t your usual gym fare.  They, like you, went in search of this specific learning experience.  They will be there to learn, not to judge.  If you can get an outdoor bootcamp, it will be doubly beneficial.  Take a yoga class, a pilates class or a boxing class.  You will usually get somewhere around 8 or 10 lessons for your thirty bucks and you might make some new friends while in the process of learning something new.

Personal Trainer Dan Tracy is an expert on gymless training.  He offered the following advice from his upcoming book: “It’s much easier to procrastinate your workouts if you exercise at home, so it’s crucial to establish a schedule beforehand and stick to it.  Turn your phone on airplane mode, turn off your internet; do whatever it takes to force yourself into a routine.  If you can, do it in the morning, too.  Most people have a lot more willpower earlier in the day.”

Model Patrick Cronen left the gym life five years ago and is more built than ever.  He offers “If you’re not venturing out to a gym, your kitchen is always right next door.  Grab for water and apples on an empty stomach, space your meals out 3 – 4 hours with an alarm.  Keep your meals 70% leafy and you’ll still see great gains. Your rest day is so that your body can recharge, reorganize and regrow stronger.  Take a walk, take an Epsom bath but leave the weights for your next lift day.”

As for me: when I began my life in health and fitness, I bought a copy of The United States Marine Corps Workout by Flach and Peck.  I was thinking about the drills they do outside and how an outdoorsy guy like me could make the most of my time away from the gym.  It set the tone for my gymless training and I cannot recommend the volume, more.  The exercises are timeless classics, tried and true and without gimmick.  Time in the gym is great but some days you just gotta go outside to play.

Top! Copyright © Stephen Mosher