How to stay in shape if you hate the gym

I’ve never liked the gym, and that’s partly to do with where I’ve lived, and partly because I find them so boring. I lived in London for over 15 years, from the age of 18 to, well, recently, and my experience of gyms in the city were overcrowded, hectic, noisey and stressful. Having to wait in line to use a machine at the busiest of times and generally finding it hard to concentrate.

I’m sure gyms in other parts of the world are different, but they all have one thing in common: they cost money, they might not be near your house or work and you’ve got to have a plan for when you arrive. None of these things are good, especially if you often arrive without a plan (like me).

If you want to stay in shape while avoiding all these things, there are a ton of things you can try… here are my favourites! And no, it doesn’t include cycling. I’m sorry, but I hate that too.

Get outdoors

In spring and summer every park, hill, forest, mountain or urban open space is a gym. Get out in the air and run, jump, walk and do push-ups. If you’re nervous about getting into the ‘zone,’ try out some outdoors group exercise classes. You’ll have people around you to keep you motivated (if that’s what you like), and you can always take the exercises you’re doing to the park the next day and do them on your own.

Wherever you live, there is often a hiking or walking group that organise interesting routes. In many cities, there are gay groups, like Outdoor Lads in the UK. So this doesn’t need to be a solitary activity – it’s a great way to make new friends too.

City walking

OK, you might not live next to a park or anywhere green. Walk to work. Walk to your friend’s house. Walk around your neighbourhood or to the shops rather than getting in your car or on the bus or train. There are a ton of free apps out there that’ll count your steps, which can give you a feeling of accomplishment. You’ll see new parts of your city, save money on travel costs and get toned legs and a firmer butt.

Make sure you get some good, comfortable trainers though. Walking a long way in flip-flops, formal or ‘office shoes’ can be uncomfortable and cause serious injuries over a long period of time.

Swim your way into shape

OK, this one takes a bit of planning (where’s the pool, where are my swimming shorts, towel, etc), but this is one of the best exercises there is for overall body conditioning and cardio.

I love using the shower and cleansing products that I get from my NextGayThing pack when I’m showering at the pool – they’re a great size and compact enough to leave in my bag.

I’m lucky enough to live in Berlin where there are plenty of open air city pools and lakes to enjoy in the summer. Swimming seems like much less of a chore than the gym. Do 10 minutes swimming, then relax a bit in the sun. Do 10 minutes swimming then get back out of the water and chat with friends. Of course, in the winter, this isn’t going to be an option, but if it’s summertime and you have somewhere outdoors to swim, go for it!


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