Top Gym Alternatives For A Healthier You

Swimmers at the pool

Got a gym membership but can’t quite find the time to get there? How about tomorrow? Oh that’s right, you’ve got that thing on, maybe next week. The good news is, you’re not alone. The bad new is, you’re wasting $1.8 billion a year. Well, not you personally, but Australians who are forking out for unused memberships. What to do?

Put one foot in front of the other

Free, easy and readily accessible to anyone fortunate enough to have two functioning legs, walking cuts the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, depression, anxiety and insomnia. To reap the benefits, you’ll want to at least keep up a brisk pace when you do it. Amp the pace up to a run and you’ll burn 2.5 times the calories.

For the competitive types, why not join a local run club and make a few new pals in the process.

Hop on your bike

One way to get around the problem of finding time to exercise is to make it part of your everyday life. Say, using your own body as transport. Leave the car behind, ditch the bus pass and jump on a bike. All of a sudden the very act of getting around becomes a low-impact, calorie-burning, muscle-building workout. In many cities, cycling is just as efficient, or even faster, than battling gridlocked peak hour traffic—plus on top of the gym fees, you’ll save on tolls, parking and fines.

Get wet

Unless you happen to live in Venice, swimming isn’t much use as a commuting alternative, but if you live near the water or have access to a local swimming pool, you might as well use it. Water offers more resistance than air so you’re getting a stronger workout compared to running or cycling. Swimming is great for just about any aspect of fitness you can think of and, let’s face it, there’s good reason why the term ‘swimmers body’ is a thing.

Hit up an outdoor gym

If you’re looking to really build strength, resistance training is where it’s at. Many local councils install outdoor equipment in parks or dotted along trails like the famous Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. While these al fresco gyms differ markedly from the weighted machines and racks of dumbells you’ll find in your regular gym (which you’re not even visiting), they are still effective in using your bodyweight for training, which also has the advantage of being gentler on joints then hauling heavy weights. Plus they’re free.

Get appy

If you’re not the rain, hail or shine type (or you just don’t fancy the general public being audience to your workout), there’s a solution for all modern problems: download an app. There are endless options out there and apps like Bodyweight ($7.99)—based on the best selling book You Are Your Own Gym—provide fitness programs you can do at home without investing in special equipment.

YouTube it

If you really don’t fancy scrounging a few bucks together for an app, the internet is a glorious thing. It won’t take much sniffing around on YouTube to find hundreds of videos dedicated to helping you create your own at-home bodyweight circuit. You’ll be doing pull-ups with a broomstick and couple of dining chairs before you know it.

Build a home gym

For those who prefer using weights, perhaps the gym would be harder to ignore if it came to you. A home gym is certainly easier to get to and you can craft a solid workout using an adjustable bench and some dumbbells. Depending on what your space and budget will allow, you can kit your place out with all sorts of gear. And even if you stay true to form and never touch it again, you’ll eventually end up saving money compared to letting your gym membership roll over in perpetuity.

SUP, man

Stand-up paddle boarding, or SUP, may look like one-person pleasure cruise but it’s a deceptively effective workout. Getting up and staying up is great for the core and the rowing action is almost meditative (let’s call it ‘leisure-cise’). At around $20-$30 for a casual hire, SUP isn’t cheap if want to do it a few times a week. But at around $1,000 for a top-end board (and more affordable versions to be had), your very own SUP will pay for itself in no time. It should go without saying (but we’ll say it), you’ll want to have ready access to water and a vehicle capable of accommodating the rather sizable equipment it to reap the full benefits.  

Need more inspiration?

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Matthew Paroz
Matthew Paroz


After many years in the publishing and advertising business, Matt has clocked up time working with Australia’s most iconic brands and media outlets, including GQ, Men’s Health, Qantas, Commonwealth Bank and, of course, This Weekend.

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