Working out at the gym

Of course the obvious place to workout is at the gym. A gym membership gives you access to a wider variety of exercise equipment, so it can be easier for you to get a complete, full-body workout. And you’re less likely to get bored, as gyms are social places, so you’ll always have plenty of other gym-goers for company. Gyms also have personal trainers who can give you advice on how to use equipment properly, particularly if you’re a beginner. And there are lots of fun classes to join, which is a great way to get fit and meet other people. However, gyms can be pricey, and

you’re often committed to join for a minimum period, although plenty of gyms these days do offer flexible memberships and no contracts to make it more affordable. Another downside of the gym is that no matter how motivated you are, it’s sometimes difficult to get to the gym as often as you would like, as we try and juggle social and work commitments. Gyms can also get crowded during peak times and this can make it more difficult to use the equipment you want to use.

Working out at home

An alternative to working out at the gym, is to do it in the comfort of your own home. One of the biggest advantages of cross-training at home is that you can exercise whenever you want, whether that’s early in the morning, or late at night. You can also play whichever music you want, and wear whatever you want. However, working out at home can get lonely at times, as you don’t have the same atmosphere or social interaction as you would at the gym. Although an at-home workout could be good for beginners, who aren’t totally comfortable working out in front of others. Investing in equipment to workout at home can be quite an expense, and you may struggle for space if you live in a small flat, but it will cost you far less than a gym membership in the long run, if you can find the space. Home gyms can also be more convenient as you don’t have to travel anywhere to get to it, meaning you’ll probably workout more often than you would by going to the gym. You’ll be more likely to stick to your fitness plan and achieve your goals.

Working out in the park

If a sweaty gym isn't your scene, how about exercising outside instead? Your local park can be the ultimate playground, and a perfect place to get fit. It combines two health-enhancing activities: moving your body, and getting outdoors. If you’re looking to enhance your mood, save money and avoid the time and trouble of getting to the gym, getting fit with Mother Nature can be the perfect choice. Many parks have outdoor gyms nowadays, and although they may not boast some of the fancy equipment of an indoor gym, they are completely free, and some even have child-friendly stations too. There are also many exercises you can do with just your body weight, like sit-ups, push-ups, and burpees. And there are lots of free and effective exercise equipment in and around the park if you can think creatively, such as; doing pull-ups on a tree branch (just make sure you choose one that’s thick and strong enough to hold your weight), tricep dips on a park bench, and box jumps on a picnic bench.

Which are the best cross-training activities?

There are lots of exercises which you can do at home, in the gym, or in the park to give overall fitness. But there are also particular sports and activities which you could include into your workout regime. The trick is to combine different activities and workouts so you’re working different muscle groups. If you enjoy running, consider cycling too, to give your leg muscles an aerobic workout without the impact that comes with running. Or if you have a slight injury from the gym, consider swimming as a low-impact form of exercise to allow your body to recover, while still keeping active. Here are some of the top cross-training activities to add to your workout routine. And most of them can be done outside!

  • Hiking: It can help improve your cardio fitness, muscle strength, balance, and coordination. And it can help boost bone density, since walking is a weight-bearing exercise.
  • Cycling: Great for working your leg muscles and improving joint mobility. It’s also low impact, so it’s perfect exercise if you’re just starting to return to sport after injury.
  • Swimming: This cheap, low-impact activity engages your core, and helps work your upper body. It also builds endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness, making it the perfect exercise for all-round fitness.
  • Weight-training: Lifting weights can help you target muscles you might not use in other sports and activities. It’s a great way to burn calories, gain muscle mass, decrease body fat, increase bone density, and can even enhance cardiovascular fitness.
  • Yoga: Helps your flexibility and allows you to stretch muscles which might be tight from doing other sports. It also improves respiration, energy and vitality, and it helps to manage stress.
  • Walking: This low-impact exercise can burn calories, strengthen the heart, and can help lower your blood sugar. It’s also great for boosting your energy, and your mood, especially if you make it social and invite some friends along.
  • Dancing: A fun and exciting aerobic activity like Zumba helps strengthen your hip-stabilisers and calves, which is important for runners. It’s good for cardiovascular health, and improves coordination, agility, and flexibility.
  • Kayaking: This low-intensity activity is another good one for those recovering from a leg injury. It increases muscle strength, particularly in the back, arms, shoulders, and chest, and is a good stress buster.
  • Rollerblading: This fun aerobic activity is a great way to build endurance and tone your muscles. It’s good for balance and posture, and the faster you skate, the more calories you'll burn.

So if you don’t fancy a gym workout, there are lots of fun activities you can do outside. Natural light and fresh outdoor air invigorate and provide more energy for the mind and body. You’ll get the vitamin D you need to stay healthy, and to maintain strong bones. And you'll have a new appreciation for the natural beauty around you.