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Staying fit, healthy and happy – without a gym membership!


All it takes is a bit of awareness and creativity to eliminate an unpleasant monthly fee from your outgoings for the New Year, because all the exercise that your body craves can be achieved outside of the gym!

Named after the god Janus, to whom the Romans would make their promises at the beginning of each year, January has become illustrious as the month for New Year’s resolutions of self-improvement, some of the most popular today of which are centered on fitness and exercise. This is unsurprising considering the amount of post-Christmas calories we have waiting to be burned-off come January. But as well as a wider waistline, a slimmer wallet is also a cost we typically pay for Christmas, which is why alternatives to paying a monthly gym membership could be a very resilient solution. According to the Fitness Industry Association (FIA), the average cost of a gym membership in the UK in January 2016 was £41.95, which equates to over £500 a year. And just think what you can do with £500!

For those of you looking to rely on all the workout equipment and the swimming pool that your local gym or leisure centre provides, a community recreation centre could be a fine substitution since they usually offer relatively cheap monthly fees, and some are even free to local residents. However, if you’re just looking to simply lose weight, which does tend to be one of the most common reasons people join the gym in the first place, aerobic exercise (or simply ‘cardio’) is the best form of exercise for this. Along with many other benefits – such as strengthening your respiration muscles, improvement of circulation efficiency, improved mental health, and reduced risk of diabetes – cardio is the best method for burning off calories. So if we’re talking about both getting fit and saving the pennies, simply walking, as opposed to driving or relying on public transport, is a brilliant way to do this. Perhaps you could walk to the supermarket to get small loads of shopping more frequently, rather than one big batch in the boot of your car (carrying the shopping home with you will do wonders for your muscle tone as well).

Forbes considers squash to be the healthiest sport around, and it certainly is a very intense cardio workout, so joining a local squash/tennis club, which may have a lower costing monthly membership fee, could be an option for you if you like your racquet sports. Otherwise, joining an amateur sports team in your local area would allow you to play an average of one game per week through the regular season, and at a very modest fee too, having fun with like-minded people sharing your sporting interest.

Although an obvious alternative to weight-lifting in the gym is buying a set of weights yourself so you can lift heavy iron in your very own home, developing muscle tone can be achieved through a whole array of different other methods, such as squats, pull-ups, chin-ups, push-ups, and many other bodyweight exercises that are out there – many of which you could very well do in your local park if the weather’s nice!

Fitness and exercise seem largely to have become ideas not only synonymous with, but even limited, to the gym, for a lot of people don’t really think about getting their exercise and staying fit outside of their commitments to the gym, or their yoga class, dance class, bike riding, or anything else that proves to be an outlet for their fitness. But staying fit and healthy is a necessity for which the opportunity to do so is presented all around us on a day-to-day basis. From the tranquil past-time of golf, enjoying the beautiful landscapes and fresh air while you both exercise and socialise, to simply playing with the children or pets, a physical activity which reduces stress levels makes you happier and increases cognitive capacity. There are options all around us. Not only can you stay fit and healthy day-to-day without a gym membership, you can probably make yourself happier doing so. And not just because your bank balance will be looking better, but because you yourself will be!

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