I haven’t had a gym membership for a decade, yet I’ve never stopped being active during that entire time, so I’m going to share with you all the things I do to stay physically active in a balanced manner without ever needing to go into one. (Note: I have nothing against gyms, if you love gyms, good!)
1. Make space to lay and sprawl on the ground.
This may be an odd tip to start out with but I believe it is very important to make space in your home to lay down. I have been to peoples house and clear they don’t have a place to really stretch out their limbs as wide as possible and that’s really weird to me. It tells me they don’t do many scrumptious moves. The floor is firm and it is therapeutic to roll around on the floor, stretch and twist in all sorts of ways. This kind of sprawling around is not the same as laying on your mattress.
In my apartment, I have to move my ottoman to the side to have enough space to move around freely. Maybe for you it’s the coffee table.
All sorts of options open up when I make space such as you’ll see in the following GIF: My dog Medax chilling supine while my friend teaches me Hammock Pose of acro-yoga:
And then below you have Rod Cooper of the Movement Collective (follow him!) demonstrating some of his floor-massage and play:
2. You must have a place to hang even if you do nothing but hang
Even if you never do a pullup, simply hanging is worth having a pullup bar. I actually don’t think I could live without it at this point. Hanging is very healthy for your shoulders, decompresses the spine and maintains your grip strength. Install a pullup bar such as a doorway pullup bar. Or if you have a yard where you could hang some rings from a bar or tree can work as well. (For more ideas, check out the hanging month where you try to hang for 7 minutes a day.)
And on the flipside, if you hang regularly and pullups are easy for you, you can make them a lot harder by going for one-arm-chinup progressions with a towel as demonstrated on the right of this text. (As you get stronger, you just need to hold lower on towel until eventually you may be able to do one-arm-chinup negatives.)
3. Stick to one solid strength training routine
Our modern-day lifestyles don’t require much physical effort, but exercise is required to keep our minds healthy and if we don’t provide that stimulus, our muscles and bones will get weaker and waste away. Increasing your strength is a journey that should never end because like a plant, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And since change is the only constant, if you don’t try to ramp yourself up to a new level, you’re going to regress.
Here are some very well thought out bodyweight exercise plans that require just a pullup bar and the floor:
- Free: Minimalistic Upper Body Routine for All Levels
- Free: Recommended Routine for Beginners
- Free: Push/Pull/Legs Split for Intermediates
- Free: Wrist Friendly Modified Bodyweight Routine
- Premium: Smart Core Program
- Premium: Hypertrophy Routine
- Premium: Rings & Skills Routine
4. Flexibility-focused sessions and self massage are necessary to alleviate stiffness.
Just as important as strength training is to stretch once in a while to maintain your level of mobility and alleviate accumulated stiffness. If you aren’t sure what to do, I have a bunch of options such as my…
- Follow Along Flexibility Videos:
- Free: 35min Yoga Video for Posture with Antranik
- Free: 20min Yoga Video for Posture with Antranik
- Free: Playlist of TWENTY Yoga Videos (10-30mins long each)
- Free: Intermediate Mini Yoga Flow for the Hips
- Premium: Easy Hamstrings Flexibility Program
- Premium: Hip Flexibility Program
- Premium: Shoulder & Upper Back Flexibility Program
- Flexibility Routines
- Self Massage
5. Take up a skillful hobby or 2!
A skill is anything that requires a lot of repetition to finesse and get good at but strength is not the limiting factor. They’re very healthy for both the body and mind as they increase body awareness and can double as a form of meditation. Handstands are a classic bodyweight-exercise skill. I just recently started to try my hand at juggling. The ultimate in skill-work is dance as it’s super complex and great at loosening you up as well! What’s important is you choose something you enjoy getting better at! I associate a lot of the “flow arts” with skill-work, which are fantastic to help you get in the zone.
- Some ideas:
- Walk the Slackline. (Then, hoop on the slackline.)
- Learn to Juggle. (Then, juggle on the slackline coming soon)
- Master the freestanding handstand.
- Dancing is the ultimate in skill and movement complexity. Look up dance tutorials online!
- Other flow arts: Hula Hoop, Spin Poi, etc…
Then you can combine your skills and do things such as hula hoop ON the slackline!
6. Choose something FUN for Cardio!
Personally, I prefer low-impact exercises such as bicycling. Make sure you review my articles on how to ride your bicycle safely on the street and how to mountain bike.
Running is fantastic in terms of cardio, however just be aware that that it is a high impact exercise on joints and could hurt them if you’re overweight or doing it on a hard surface. Try to find a grassy field or park you can run around instead. Same goes for if you’re jumping rope.
Swimming is also a fantastic low impact exercise. If you hang out with a friend, you can play frisbee or kick a soccer ball or play volleyball or tennis. Now that I can’t go ice-skating (due to covid19), sometimes I will go roller blading as a completely different activity. Change it up. It’s good to find new ways to get the heart pumping. But what’s most important is that it’s fun and enjoyable. No point in doing things that you know make you miserable.
7. Expose yourself to the sun during non-peak hours
It’s a great practice to get some sun everyday, weather permitting. Go for a walk and try to expose as much of your skin as possible for a few minutes each morning. Obviously, the sun can be harmful during peak hours and hot days but after sunrise or before sunset, the ultraviolet light isn’t harmful and it’s very therapeutic. Plus, magic-hour (just around sunset) when the clouds light up different colors is an awesome time to be out.
8. Find ways to connect with nature regularly.
Being stuck indoors is really not good for mental and physical health. The antidote is nature. Even if you have to go far away to find a hiking trail or go to a secluded beach, it’s worth it. Or it can be as simple as walking up the hill or find a rooftop to catch a nice view of the sunset. I most frequently get a taste of nature, sun and some cardio most frequently by bicycling. Oftentimes I setup my slackline and rings at the local park and get both my skill and strength training and feel the grass on my barefeet at the same time. Nature is medicine. Don’t ignore it.
- Make space to lay and sprawl on the ground.
- You must have a place to hang even if you do nothing but hang.
- Stick to one solid strength training routine.
- Flexibility-focused sessions and self massage are necessary to alleviate stiffness.
- Take up a skillful hobby or 2
- Choose something FUN for Cardio
- Expose yourself to the sun during non-peak hours.
- Find ways to connect with nature regularly.
That pretty much covers everything that I regularly do to stay active and healthy without needing to ever step into a gym! As you’ll notice, I rotate through many different activities and that’s because I believe that play and variety is the spice of life! But there is a method to the madness and I hope that helps you to optimize staying active without ever needing to step foot in a gym as well!