View Full Version : Getting fit without joining a club Getting fit without joining a club

15th September 2010, 02:03 AM
If the expense or commitment needed to join a gym or sports club is putting you off, here are some cheaper, easy-access options you can try.

More and more families are joining gyms or sports clubs that offer a range of outdoor and gym-focused activities. Signing up, we hope, will make us use the gym more to get our money’s worth. But, while some health insurance companies offer money-saving reductions if you are a member of a health club, the outlay of joining can be too expensive for many household budgets. So what are the alternatives?

IMPORTANT: If you are not already active and have any concerns about your health and how much exercise is suitable for you, speak to your GP’s surgery before you start; the practice nurse should be able to advise you on what’s best in your circumstance.

Alternative fitness regimes without paying for the gym

• Walking with mates
Although the message of walking rather than using the bus to get from A to B when working or shopping is a good one, you need to extend your walking regime to really start to feel fitter and then begin to burn off calories.
See if some of your friends – maybe lure your book club mates out of their chairs - fancy getting together a regular walking club. Going for a good brisk walk once or twice a week as part of a wider active regime can really help.
Choose routes or create a theme for your walk so it doesn’t just feel like a slog round the streets where you live. Go online to find out if there are some set walking routes local to you (try the Enjoy England website for some good suggestions), or set your friends a mission of creating a theme for a walk each that you then rotate (eg you might find out some interesting facts about your neighbourhood’s history and a walk could include going by the oldest church in the area or unearthing interesting secrets about statues, beautiful ornate shop fronts etc that until now you’ve never really noticed before).

On average we tend to walk about 3,000-4,000 steps each day, so try to build your walks up gradually until you’re all walking about 10,000 steps each day. You can buy a pedometer for around £5 in the sports section of most department stores. If you have something like an iPod or a newer mobile phone, you might find these have pedometer functions as standard. As a gauge, you’ll do around 1,000 steps with 10 minutes’ brisk walking.

Don’t forget to take water with you, protect your skin if it’s bright or sunny, and wear trainers – sandals and fashion shoes usually won’t offer enough shock absorption for your joints when walking longer distances.

• Know your local park
If you haven’t visited your nearest park since the kids used the under-5s playground, the sports opportunities may not have been on your radar. Even if there isn’t a tennis court at your nearest green space, it’s worth visiting your local council’s website –here they will list all the parks in the borough and list the activities on offer, they will usually include a phone number for how to book. From bowling and tennis to running tracks or simple assault courses many parks have activities that are free, or cheap to hire.

• Join a parks sports group
Go along to your local park and check out the noticeboard or cast your eye around –are there any informal running clubs or other sports going on? On a Saturday morning you’ll see a gaggle of blokes playing football, maybe some Tai Chi taking place among the trees and often there will be a group of locals who have got together to run as a group.

It might seem daunting to go up and ask to join in, but almost all sporty groups like this have got together because their members find the social aspect of doing exercise together keeps them all more enthusiastically involved. Plus they all probably started in the same way as you so most will be glad of your interest.

• Back garden sports
Even if you have limited space in your garden, getting active here might be just what you need before you venture out in a tracksuit in public!
Try badminton – a shuttlecock is less likely to disappear over your neighbour’s fence than a tennis ball or football (and less likely to break a window). You can improvise a net with rope tied between two posts and a sheet slung over it, and you can buy a kids’ badminton set to see if this sport suits you, before investing in proper badminton racquets.

Otherwise, get a skipping rope and revisit your own school days in the playground, or challenge one of your kids to a game of Swingball – OK, you’re standing in one place but it can be quite energetic if you’re doing it right!

• ‘Build’ your own sports club
Instead of signing up to the local health club, mix and match local facilities so you have a varied sporty regime through your week. Eg swimming ---many lengths on Monday and Friday at the municipal pool, then book one-off hour slots on a court at your nearest leisure centre for a session of badminton with your other half on Saturday, and maybe a group get-together of friends for a strictly amateur (!) volleyball or netball match on Wednesday evening. In between, add a moderate jog around your nearest pretty green space once or twice each week, or use a trip to the shops to dig your bike out of the garage…

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