If you’re the kind of person who makes New Year’s resolutions, there’s a good chance you’re going to decide to get healthy and fit, turning the page and starting a new chapter in your life.
And to do that, you’ll probably think about joining a gym.
But before you open your wallet in hopes to arrive at a body that looks better naked, it’s worth considering that four out of five gym memberships go unused. After all, everyone’s busy: It can be difficult to find the time to get to a specific location to work out.
The good news is that you don’t have to waste money joining a gym in order to get into shape. And on top of that, if you play your cards right, exercise doesn’t even have to feel like you’re working out at all.
It’s easier than you think. Here are three exercise hacks that will make sure you won’t dread staying in shape:
Who needs a personal trainer? From a very straightforward point of view, it makes sense to join a gym: You get access to equipment and trainers, and you’re in an environment filled with folks who’ll encourage you to keep going.
With average membership fees hovering around $60 a month, many people have a hard time finding room in their budgets to join gyms. But if your goal is getting in shape, the act of going to the gym doesn’t really matter: In fact, many gym-goers find themselves socializing more than actually working out.
Believe it or not, in the age of the smartphone, you can turn to your own mobile device to find the resources and motivation you need to get fit. With free apps like Nike Training Club and FitStar, you’ll be digitally inspired to work up a sweat.
FitStar, for example, allows you to customize workouts with squats, plants, push-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts and more. You can tell the app how many reps you did and how difficult the exercises were, and an algorithm will help you find the routines that make the most sense for you moving forward.
But you don’t even have to lose the social aspect of the gym by not joining one. There are also social exercise-forcused apps like Fitocracy, which allow your friends to encourage you to push yourself harder.
These apps are free, and you can use them anywhere.
Exercising doesn’t have to be boring. There are more ways to get in shape than running regularly, lifting weights and doing body exercises. It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to think of exercise as exercise—you know, “exercise” in the traditional sense.
Were you a rock star on the basketball court in middle school? Those days were a hell of a lot of fun.
So head to the local basketball court and get involved in a pick-up game, or at least find your equivalent. Instead of going running three or four times a week, shoot hoops instead. You’ll be surprised at how healthy and fit you’ll get—and from playing a game, nonetheless.
If that’s not your cup of tea, you can always give yoga a try. Or you can try trail-running.
You could also get back into riding a bike—on the street or in the woods. Keep troubleshooting: You’ll eventually find something you absolutely love doing and voila, exercise turns into a hobby.
(How’s your sex life, anyway?)
It’s time to take the stairs, split wood and walk a few blocks to grab a gallon of milk.
Remember, when you stop thinking about exercise as “working out,” you’ll begin to see that you can tweak many of your daily routines and burn significantly more calories.
An example: Instead of hopping in the elevator, a 160-pound person can burn nine calories by walking up a single flight of stairs, and a 210-pound person can burn 12. While those numbers might not seem like much, they add up over time, particularly if you’re in and out of your fourth-story office multiple times over the course of a day.
But there are other healthy habits you can develop, too.
Let’s say you’re the kind of person who enjoys a good fire during the winter: Great news, chopping wood is one of the best exercises you can do. Your sweat in the summer keeps you warm in the winter.
This is how life’s routine tasks become satisfying workouts.
So maybe you shouldn’t join a gym after all, right?
There’s a reason only 22 percent of people who plan on becoming gym rats in January succeed for the entire year: It can be impossible to find both the time and money to keep up the habit.
But when you stop to think about how you can exercise anywhere at any time, breaking a sweat however you see fit, it suddenly becomes a whole lot easier—and a whole less expensive—to build the body of your dreams.