Do we really need to spend a fortune being a member of a gym to get fit?
Obviously it's up to you how you spend your hard-earned money and going to classes or the gym may suit your style of training.
I know people who are happy forking out fortunes to sit at their health club reading the paper, watch TV and never utilise the amazing facilities. And then again, I know others who are incredibly fit and have never ever stepped inside a gym.
So before you put your hand in your pocket to pay for a class or sign on the dotted line for monthly dues – here are 20 ways to get fit without stepping over a gym threshold or into a class.
#1 Walk More
Pretty obvious really, but most of us consider ourselves too 'busy' and jump in the car without thinking when heading to local shops or around the corner to see a friend.
So be mindful, make time at least to park further away from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
#2 Get On Your Bike
If you haven't cycled since you were a child, don your helmet, cycle a short distance to begin with, get your balance and enjoy the breeze against your face.
As you gain confidence, experience different terrains, go up hill, down hill, increase your distance and have fun.
Cycling improves cardiovascular fitness and joint mobility. It's low impact so there's less strain on the body and it's pretty easy to do, so enjoy cycling with friends and family.
Spinning those wheels can also help you lose weight, reduce high blood pressure and decrease stress levels.
#3 Go Swimming
Preferably in the ocean or a lake. Great for lung fitness, easy on the joints, improves flexibility and strengthens the heart.
Practise swimming under water, building up by taking one breath where you would normally take two and before you know it, you'll be swimming greater distances in fewer breaths.
#4 Get Your Skates On
Whether it's roller skates, rollerblading or ice skating, glide to strengthen inner thighs and butt. It's low-impact so easier on the joints than running and just as aerobic.
Gliding across the rink or along the sidewalk out in the sunshine, helps you lose weight, improves core strength and balance and enhances co-ordination. Mentally, it's pretty good too!
#5 Dance More
A super fun way to raise fitness levels. We can all dance (in our own sometimes peculiar way) and it's free. Clear the furniture out of the way – put on uplifting music and get moving. Include some little ballet leaps, some twisting, knee bending, reaching.
Move your body in every direction so you feel open, released and warm. Dance for at least 10 minutes – 3 times a week.
#6 Be A Team Player
Team sports promote camaraderie, it's social and helps develop leadership and discipline as well as stamina and endurance.
Join a park run, or train for an event like Tough Mudder or start your own group of whatever sport you enjoy most.
#7 Get A Yoga DVD
Not sure what to do on that new mat you bought at discount? Buy a DVD or go on the internet or YouTube. Doesn't matter if you don't look like the teacher, just do the best you can.
Yoga is a lot more than physical postures though – it's about uniting the body and spirit and cultivating a kind and open heart.
Expert tip – draw a line down the centre of your yoga mat to promote good alignment.
#8 Play More
Remember how we played as kids – jumping, leap- frogging, playing tag and doing somersaults.
Practise headstands, handstands and shoulder-stands. Inversions keep you feeling and looking young, improving balance, reducing headaches and increasing oxygen to the brain. Invigorating stuff.
#9 Clean Up Your Act
Treat your house chores as a workout so there's a physical benefit when vacuuming and cleaning! When you're scrubbing, sweeping or polishing, make your moves big and vigorous.
Even in a small space, walking lunges are do-able as you alternately lunge right then left, forwards, backwards, sideways, changing direction, turning corners, polishing the furniture!
#10 Take The Stairs
Forget the escalators and elevators. It's interesting to note how many people stand still going up the escalators. Make a point of always walking up, and even take two steps at a time for that added butt-changer.
Aim never to use elevators. Get into the habit of locating the stairs at your place of work, in hotels when on holiday, and in department stores and use them instead.
Climbing stairs tones and defines legs and buttocks, strengthens lungs and heart and improves focus as you concentrate stepping up.
#11 TONE During Ad-Breaks
When lounging on the couch watching the TV, use advert breaks to tone your arms – 10 tricep dips off the edge of the sofa, then take a rest for 10 seconds and repeat until your programme comes back on.
Next ad break – bicep curls. Use small bottles of water or tin cans as weights to wake up the upper arms muscles
#12 GET A STANDING DESK
Reverse the Chinese saying of "why stand when you can sit" and say instead "why sit when you can stand"!
We are leading a sedentary lifestyle – driving everywhere, watching more television than ever, playing video games and glued to our computers 24/7.
Take a leaf out of Charles Dicken's book and stand instead of sitting when working.
Standing desks are becoming popular and although they may take some getting used to, a study showed that if you sit for longer than 2.5 hours a day, you have a 125% higher risk of cardiovascular problems.
Every so often, do a few little bends, knee lifts, side to side twists and generally keep moving.
#13 Take Up GARDENING
If you think gardening the leisurely pastime of genteel folk in straw hats, think again. Digging, shovelling, lifting and mowing the lawn, all improve strength and endurance.
Potting, pruning and trimming define and shape arms and gardening in general involves squatting, kneeling, moving the torso up and down, twisting. You'll soon work up quite a sweat.
Being in touch with nature and seeing plants grow and flowers bloom is therapeutic and calming for the mind.
#14 WASH THE CAR
Use big sweeping strokes and lengthened reaches as you sponge and polish the car.
Squat down to scrub the alloys and stretch up as you wash the roof. Remember to make your moves massive and powerful and switch hands as you clean.
Right side of the car, right hand, and left side of the car, left hand - or whatever works for you.
#15 WALK THE DOG
Your dog needs exercise as much as you do and being outside in nature naturally energises the body. And if you're with a group of friends, laughing and having fun at the same time, is a double-whammy.
Those feel-good hormones lift your mood so you feel happier as well as fitter. Don't have a dog? Borrow one or volunteer at a dog shelter.
#16 TIP-TOE TRAINING
Whilst waiting in a queue, shape your calves by rising up and down on your toes – avoid putting your heels down on to the ground, simply raise up and down so the heels hover each time.
Continue for as long as you're queuing.
#17 BALANCING ACT
Get rid of your desk chair and sit on a fit ball instead. Improves core strength, posture and alignment.
Practise balance exercises by raising one foot off the floor and then the other as you draw the abdominals in and up as you type.
Release the lower back by circling the pelvis one way then the other. I also blow dry my hair sitting on a fit ball!
Work those abs and strengthen your back as you wiggle your hips with hooping. Pick up your hoop even for just 5 minutes everyday to improve spinal flexibility, co-ordination and motor skills.
And although we can't spot reduce, it does a pretty good job of banishing those love handles. Working out with a hula hoop is cheap, fun and guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.
Bounce your way to a higher fitness level with jumping up and down on a mini-trampoline, known as a rebounder.
Rebounding strengthens the heart, improves endurance, co-ordination and can offer relief from back pain.
Used by footballers for rehab to improve ankle and knee stability and offers the feel-good factor as you laugh and bounce at the same time.
#20 Bodyweight Basics
Define your chest by simply dropping to the floor and doing 20 press ups every day twice a day – once in the morning and again in the evening. Doesn't take long. Start on your hands and knees and progress to hands and toes.
Remember chest towards the floor, rather than your head, and abdominals pulled in away from you waistband. Form is imperative.
So there you have it – 20 assorted ways to raise fitness levels for free and naturally improve your lifestyle without going to a gym. Don't get me wrong now – I'm certainly not against gyms or classes – I've worked in the health club industry for many years, I'm a member of a gym myself and I love classes to bits.
However as demonstrated here, there are certainly other ways to get fit without paying for it. I look forward to you hearing your innovative ways to get in shape without a gym membership!
How do you stay fit for free?