Why You Shouldn't Join a Gym

Everybody makes the same resolution every single year. Join a gym, go five times a week and get fitter. It starts off great for the first two weeks or so; the gym bag is in the car ready for you after work; the membership card is in and out of the wallet more times that your bank card; and you are on that treadmill for 30 minutes, five times a week.

However, after two weeks the excitement of something new dies down. Your body starts to ache from all the muscles that are being used after months of not realising they existed; people are going out again after work now the January salaries are in after a month of living on nothing with Christmas and New Year; and there just isn't time for the gym. That membership card, that you're still paying £30, £40 sometimes as much as £60 a month for, is sitting on your wallet, gathering dust. Now, instead of going to the gym 5 times a week, you're lucky if you make it there once a month.

Free Ways to Keep Fit

There are plenty of ways to keep fit without the need to fork out a monthly membership to a gym that you're not likely going to go to ever again once January draws to the close (if you even make it that far).

Experts say that you should exercise for 30 minutes, five times a week. Walking/jogging is the best, easiest and cheapest way of doing this. All you need to really spend money on is some decent running shoes that fit your feet. Many sports places are now doing a fitting that involves you walking/running on a treadmill and a computer shows exactly how you walk/run so you can find running shoes that will give you the best support. These test cost around £20, however if you buy running shoes from that shop on that day, most of the time they're free. The running shoes will cost you around £40-£50 for a good pair, but they will last you around a year (unless you're a cross country runner, in which case you'll be running so much that you won't be reading this!). I've used the same pair of trainers for five or six years now and they are still comfortable and still perfect for the job!


Once you have your running shoes and some loose, comfortable clothing like tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt, all you need to do is find somewhere close to you - a park, a reservoir, even around your block will do!


Why not trade the car in for a shiny new bicycle to get to work? Yes, a new bicycle may cost a fair bit of money, but when you think of the money you will save in petrol or bus fair, it will pay off. Plus, the government is doing a Cycle to Work Initiative, so you may be able to save some money on a new bicycle by checking that out.

Local councils of the major big cities also have safe cycle routes. If you want to find out if yours has one and download a map of all the safe cycle routes, all you really need to do is type 'cycling' and the name of your town/city into Google.

Fitness DVDs

If you don't like the idea of going outside for a jog when it's snowing or bucketing down with rain, there is always the "inside the house" choice for free ways to keep fit. There are plenty of fitness DVDs out there in the shops by almost every female celebrity who has lost weight. Why not check one out? You could even get some friends over one night and instead of the pizza and drinks, have a laugh with a fitness DVD - not sure how much of the DVD will be done, but at least it's a little more entertaining than the thought of running for 30 minutes on a treadmill, staring at yourself through the mirror opposite.

If you have a games console, most now have the motion sensors and fitness 'games' out. Wii Fit Plus is one that caters to all ages, sizes and abilities and not only keeps you fit, but tracks your progress, checks your BMI and helps your set reasonable goals. This is something that I used on a regular basis until getting pregnant - right now I mainly stick with swimming to avoid injury - and will use again as soon as the baby is born.

Take Up a Sport

One of the best things you can do to keep fit and keep up that New Year's resolution is to simply go to the park and kick a ball around with some friends or children, or play fetch with the dog (providing you have one first).

Maybe you have a old cricket set sitting in the garage, or a tennis set in the attic that you haven't used since you were a teenager. You could easily pull out your sports equipment and find something different to do every day in the park. Most parks will have a tennis or basketball court or goal posts set up somewhere. If there are no goal posts, you can always make some with tops on the ground as long as the ground is dry. You'll be surprised how fast time goes too when you're having a 'quick' game of football or rounders.


I bet you weren't thinking of that one, were you? Yes, even a regular dose of housework can keep you fit and this is one of the easy free ways to keep fit. Hoovering is actually one of the best ones because you're constantly moving. When the weather is good, you could even hang all your washing out since you'll get double the exercise by bringing it in once it's dry. ANd even gardening will help burn off those unwanted calories; it could also help you save money if you start growing your own vegetables!

Free Day Passes

If you do find that you want to try a gym, then most of the big named gyms are doing free passes ranging from a day to three days. You'll get to use the gym as if you were a paying member and get a real taster of what the place is like and whether you would want to go five times a week or whether it really is just a New Year's fad.

However, with these passes, the staff will put pressure on you to sign up to a membership afterwards so make sure you're ready for that and stick to your guns and say no - if you know that the gym will be a waste of money.

Just as a little tip, before you undertake any exercise that you should check with your GP (that doesn't mean if the GP says you shouldn't do strenuous exercise that it's your excuse not to clean up the house!) It's a check to make sure that you can do all the exercise that you want to do.

Also remember, during winter, the days still get dark early, so if you're going to walk/run after work, make sure you have something bright like an illuminuous jacket, so that other people and drivers can see you. This way you take advantage of the free ways to keep fit while also staying safe! Another safety tip is to make sure that someone knows where you are going and your exact route; if something does happen, they will be able to track you to find out if you are okay.


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