5 Ways to Get in Shape Without Joining a Gym

There are more ways to get your body in great physical condition than by signing up for a fitness gym membership. Increase your exercise horizons by exploring your own neighborhood. Not only are many of the available fitness options inexpensive but getting involved in these local activities will connect you with community members who have the same interests (and in most instances, skill level) that you do.

Search the web. No matter what your sport of choice, there’s likely a group that meets in your area.

  • Runners can search for running clubs by state at www.rrca.org and get info on the safest places to run as well as the most scenic trails.
  • Hikers can check out www.sierraclub.org for group outings and maps.
  • Yogis can find local classes at www.yogafinder.com.
  • Tennis players can find a court and a partner at www.usta.com and search Flex Leagues.
  • Mountain bikers and backpackers can get routes and read reviews from other explores www.attrails.com.
  • Kayak and canoe-lovers can join groups near them at www.paddling.net.

Go back to school. Call your school district to learn the schools’ policy on using outdoor tracks and courts outside school hours, says Neil Pire, fitness expert at the American College of Sports Medicine. Want more structure? Many school districts offer 8-week programs for adults — from softball leagues to water aerobics — for a nominal fee, Pire says. Local colleges and universities allow community members to enroll in not-for-credit fitness classes and instruction, including weightlifting, yoga, and tennis — without the hefty college price tag.

Explore the great outdoors. Get information on trails, recreation programs and outdoor fitness classes on your county’s Department of Parks and Recreation website, suggests Jessica Matthews, exercise psychologist at the American Council of Exercise. Or search for parks and trails by zip code at the National Wildlife Federation. If you’re looking for a specific outdoor activity, including biking, fishing, hiking, water sports, and camping plug your zip code into Discover the Forest www.discovertheforest.org/ for local options.

Get a trainer — without a gym membership. Reap the benefits of a personal trainer (extra motivation, accountability, and one-on-one instruction!) outside gym walls: Go to www.acefitness.org to find a certified fitness trainer in your area who will get you in shape at a local recreation center, park, or even in your own home!

Act like a tourist. Stop by your town’s Visitor’s Information Office and talk to hotel concierges about little-known fitness spots; these people are paid to know your town’s secrets.

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