Do I have to join a gym?

If you’ve decided that you want to lose weight and get fit and healthy, one thing that is bound to have crossed your mind is whether you need to join a gym or attend classes. Whilst you can benefit from the range of facilities that the typical gym has to offer – for instance, different exercise machines, free weights, qualified instructors, saunas, swimming pool, tennis courts, a wide range of classes – it isn’t absolutely necessary to do so.

Alternatives to the gym


Consider taking up a sport. Did something from London 2012 fire up your imagination? Perhaps you quite fancy having a go at tennis or messing about on your local river in a canoe? Sports are a great way of getting fit and burning fat whilst having fun. And you’ll find the time just flies by because you’re having so much fun. I enjoy rock climbing and have been known to be at the climbing centre for over 8 hours!

Make your body your gym

With a bit of research, you won’t even have to leave your house to exercise. Bodyweight exercises are exercises that use your own body for resistance. They vary in difficulty so could range from just stepping on the spot to one hand press ups depending on how fit and strong you are!

Here’s an example for beginners:

One for the more athletic:

And one with simple equipment:

The great outdoors

Of course, you may prefer to enjoy the countryside and get some fresh air inside you. Simply search for local countryside walks or cycling routes. For instance, in Richmond Park, London, you can either walk round the park or hire a bicycle. Another idea would be to join a local walking or cycling group who would arrange local trips and weekend trips.


  • consistency is key: health and fitness should be about lifestyle changes, making activities part of your routine irrespective of the way you choose to get fit. Of course, variation is good, for instance, rather than walking every week, you might cycle or do some kind of indoor fitness routine
  • be creative: what you do is limited only by your imagination; for ideas, search out local sports groups, visit or browse
  • listen to your body: if you go it alone, you won’t have a personal trainer or coach to monitor your progress so always listen to your body – if you are sore, consider resting or seeking professional help to avoid a long-term injury
  • find a group of friends to get fit with: you can join a new group but you could also ask your friends if they want to join you on your fitness journey, feeding off each other for encouragement