Before I lost 25 pounds in three months, I used to try all sorts of things to try and get into shape. I tried numerous gyms, workout programs, and every new studio and fitness fad I could find. But I discovered that I hate the gym – there I said!
We all know that exercise is important for our health, and packing on the extra pounds isn’t so good for body or mind. Exercise increases well-being, helps you lose weight, and reduces the chances of osteoporosis, chronic disease, and cardiovascular issues.
Like many, I’m intellectually aware of all these benefits. I know how much our bodies need exercise but I hate working out!
But it’s okay to hate the gym, you just need to find the way that you like to move. If you hate exercise too, that’s okay! Learn to love movement with these whacky exercises. Some of them are just perfect for when you’re on your own at home.
Dancing Like Nobody’s Watching
It’s daunting to show up to a dancing class. What if I can’t keep the rhythm? (Know the answer to that), I wonder how good everyone else is? What if I’m the biggest dancer in the class?
If you’re anything like me, all of those problems can be solved by dancing at home in front of the mirror. Put on an empowering playlist and dance like nobody’s watching.
Not only did it make me feel like a strong, independent woman, but this form of exercise can be done in the comfort of your own home at any time. As it turns out, dancing is a moderate-intensity exercise that is great for your cardiovascular health.
As a movement that requires a lot of focus, it also increases cognitive function. This helps with focus, memory, and stress management. It does feel a bit weird at first but push through and it’s great. If you’re nervous there are plenty of videos online to move along to.
Aerial silks are those pieces of material you see Pink flying on during her concerts. It looks daunting – don’t worry, they ease you into it.
Entering my first silks class, I thought it would be much more intimidating, but loads of props and prep teaches you how to tie a proper silk knot for support. I wasn’t much of a girl scout.
The best bit? Aerial silks keep your full body conditioned and mobile. It also doesn’t feel like exercise, which is perfect if you hate the gym. It’s a great way to gain active flexibility over time and strengthen your muscles in the isometric holds.
As you learn the different climbs you need intense focus as you discover how to place the silks around your feet in different ways. Similarly to dance, aerial silks can also improve your cognitive function and memory as you learn a new skill set.
If you end up loving it, you can join the circus.
Laughter yoga might look and feel strange and forced at first, but afterward, you feel surprisingly good. It incorporates pranayama which are yogic breathing techniques that bring more oxygen into the body, thus boosting your energy.
Studies show that pranayama, which is practiced in laughing yoga, activates the parasympathetic nervous system reducing your stress response and decreasing fatigue symptoms.
Physically, you can follow along and laugh in certain yoga poses, below is a video of laughing yoga practice, take a look and try it for yourself.
While laughing is largely great for your mental health, it does burn calories. If you’re exercising with a weight loss goal, use laughing yoga to warm up for another activity.
This is one of those exercise activities that I did on alone and to be honest, not for very long.
Tumbling and Gymnastics
Gymnastics is often thought of as a school-age sport, but you’re never too old to do gymnastics. It’s best done under the supervision of a coach at the gymnastics hall and it’s a great option if you hate working out but love anything playful.
Yes, there are adult classes for gymnastics and some are online too – very handy.
Gymnastics has all the strength conditioning that you do in a gym such as push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups, but it rarely feels like you’re working out. Regardless of whether you’re on the beam, bars, vault or floor, your body will get a full-body workout and a serious stretch.
Plus, this sport offers all the increased muscle mass, lowered body fat, and increased coordination without the monotony of a gym workout. You’ll reap the benefits of lower stress levels, improved memory, and gymnastics is a great social activity.
Imagine how much fun you’ll have teaching your kids how to do a handstand in the backyard.
Rock ‘n Roll
There are many types of dance to try if you hate working out, but my personal favorite is rock ‘n roll. The atmosphere in one of these dance classes is electric and eclectic. You’ll feel comfortable as there are people of all ages and backgrounds.
If you’re worried about injury, dancing is gentle on your body. It also creates a sense of community between dancers that will help you stick to this new habit. As with learning a language, studies have proven that dancing improves your brain health, even as you age.
This is a relaxed way to increase flexibility, build muscle mass, improve coordination and balance, and even make new friends.
Pole dancing gives calisthenics a run for its money with precise, controlled maneuvers around the pole. It can increase your muscle tone, reduce body fat, increase your quality of sleep, and, here’s the kicker, you’ll feel sexy as hell while you’re doing it.
Looking at the other ladies in sports bras and tight shorts during your first class can be intimidating. But remember, most of these ladies were in your shoes once. If you hate the gym, pole dancing is fun and you’ll still reap the aesthetic and functional benefits of resistance training.
It’s no secret that I hate the gym, as you may have guessed by now! For me, kickboxing has always been my go-to when dealing with personal trauma. It’s a great sublimation technique if you have a lot on your mind and you’ll find the stress relief immediate.
It improves your cardiovascular health, bone mineral density, and burns fat quickly. If you’re not ready to go to a class, there are home workout options too. That said, you do receive more benefits in a class thanks to the social aspect and increased impact on the pads.
A great question to ask yourself when choosing the right movement for you is “what did I enjoy doing as a child?” For many, it’s horseback riding.
For those who hate working out, riding not only increases muscle and reduces fat, but it’s also an enjoyable and nostalgic experience.
Depending on what type of horse riding you like, it can decrease heart disease, reduce fat, and strengthen through your lower body and especially the core. If you play polo, you’ll receive a full-body workout. For show jumpers, you’ll increase your coordination, balance, and memory.
Have you ever gone to one of those trampoline parks with the kids? I made that mistake once. After three minutes I thought I was having an asthma attack, turns out I was just exercising hard!
I recommend opting for classes at your local trampoline park. If you hate exercising, buying a small round trampoline might feel too much like an 80s workout.
In class, they’ll teach you how to warm up, do stunts safely and give you rest when you need it. Trampolining is an medium impact sport which makes it wonderful for preventing osteoporosis. The heart rate rise is something that you’ll notice immediately and as we know, working your heart reduces your chances of a cardiovascular-related disease.
A Vigorous Vacuum
Does all of that still feel like working out to you? If you really hate exercise, integrate movement into your everyday routine.
This could be taking the stairs, walking to the train stop, or walking meetings at work over driving. Still too hard? No problems, you do housework, right? Up the intensity on it.
My favorite is a vigorous vacuum. We all need to vacuum or mop our house and usually, it’s a time-consuming job. If you have a hose attached to your vacuum, then wrap it around your back and maintain great posture. Also, make sure that you don’t vacuum in one direction but multiple directions.
By the end of the housework, you should feel your heart rate increase which is good for your heart health. The next day your arm muscles may be sore which means you’re building muscle mass. Make sure you switch arms regularly. For more housework workouts, check out this video. She is a crazy lady.
Which One Will You Try First?
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong with your movement regime. You just need to move often, and fast enough so that you’re out of breath. If you’re anything like me, that shouldn’t take long!
Pretending I was a backup dancer in Beyonce’s music videos seriously changed my life for the better, as did kickboxing for stress relief. If you need to lose a few pounds, improve a health problem, or just want to be able to keep up with the kids, these ideas are worth a try.
If all else fails walking can be fun and there is more variety than you may think. We have a guide on walking for fitness with lots of different ideas that might get your exercise juices working.
If you hate the gym, keep trying new things until you find the movement that’s perfect for you.