If you’re one of the many people that sign up for a gym membership in January – spurred on by endless New Year, New You social media messaging – there’s a high chance you might not be using it come February. And do you know what? That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it. With so many external pressures these days, from family and friends to work, there are bound to be times you aren’t able to follow the strict exercise plan you’ve set yourself in the hope of instant success. That said, there’s also a raft of alternatives to the traditional gym that you might not have considered.
Whether combined with a gym programme or done separately, here are a few out-of-the-box alternatives for keeping fit this year.
The New Balance-sponsored running initiative is the ultimate fitness double threat. Good Gym involves weekly (sometimes more regular, depending on location) group runs, led by a qualified fitness instructor, with a twist. The sessions, which range in distance, involve running to a community volunteering task and back.
The task could be anything, from painting a community centre to trimming grass in a church garden. Membership options allow runners to complete solo runs too, carrying out errands for older people in the local area. Your personal Good Gym page will show you targets, how many runs you’ve completed and run reports. Great for keeping track of your progress and giving your morale a boost.
If you really want to break out of your comfort zone this year, seek out your local climbing wall and book an induction. Few activities are as initially daunting but subsequently addictive as climbing and bouldering.
The health benefits are many. It’s a true full-body workout, so muscles in your upper and lower body are put through their paces, with even finger strength required for scaling heights. Mentally, climbing is also extremely good for you. Mental agility, problem solving and stress-busting qualities make a visit to your local climbing wall a must.
There’s a lot to be said for taking up fighting this year. That might sound intense, but the health and stress-relieving qualities associated with disciplined fighting techniques like boxing and jiu-jitsu are well known. Legendary chef and presenter Anthony Bourdain said the uptake of jiu-jitsu completely changed his life. For us, though, it’s all about boxing. There’s a gritty romance to the sport that is difficult to match – old gyms, in less than picturesque neighbourhoods, run by serious people.
Your local boxing club will do circuits and they will be punishing. Do your time and they’ll welcome you as one of their own. Makes a change from the selfie-obsessed tribe at your local PureGym.
It’s funny to think that there’s still a level of stigma surrounding yoga. Despite it now being a serious industry, a recovery favourite of Premier League clubs nationwide and David Beckham swearing by it, there’s still a lingering association with health food stores and dreadlocks in the Himalayas.
Gentleman, if you haven’t already, it’s time to finally commit to yoga. You don’t have to be in London for great yoga studios, either. Experts can be found the breadth of the UK and whatever you think yoga is, prepare for those assumptions to be challenged. Hot yoga, power yoga, hip-hop yoga, naked yoga… find one that works for you.
The aim of Orangetheory is a workout that leaves anyone who tries it feeling successful. Orangetheory targets all of the issues that are likely to lead to you falling behind with your gym progress: time constraints, lack of guidance, lack of knowledge and the lack of a tailor-made plan. Workouts are switched up every day to avoid boredom, last an hour and concentrate on individual needs, allowing you to choose whether you walk, jog, run, bike or stride.
Franchises are popping up nationwide at a rapid rate, so give one a try.
By no means a silver bullet. Nobody should go into this year thinking that workout apps are going to get them a six pack through a few downloads of the app store. What does make absolute sense though is the ability to track your activity and workouts. In the same way that pre- and post-progress photos are proven to aid weight loss/body transformation (visual records of progress encourage you stick to your goals), tracking runs and jotting down sets will help with visualising progress and keeping your motivation high.