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  • Claudia Chapman

Tired of the Gym? Here's 7 Alternatives that won't feel like Exercise

I have a love-hate relationship with the gym. If you give me the right music, I'm good to go and look like Taylor Swift in that Apple Music commercial. But on other days, I hate spending seamlessly endless hours on the cross-trainer or treadmill. I can get bored, de-motivated and then never actually get around to doing some exercise.



The thing is, I know the benefits of exercise: clarity of mind, stress relief, better sleep and overall health. If you're anything like me - you might feel the same. If you do, don't stress! Here are my 7 top tips for getting that daily workout in, without going to the gym.


1. Karate or Martial Arts

So ever since the age of 5, I've been taking Karate Lessons. Karate or Martial Arts training is one of the most underrated forms of exercise. Not only can you feel like an absolute badass but you also seriously get the most incredible workout. It's a great mix of cardio, strength and conditioning as well as flexibility and stability training. I promise your coordination will improve along with your ability to remain calm and clear-headed. There's a serious spiritual aspect to the art which genuinely has been so beneficial, especially when you have a stressful day at work.



If you don't have a dojo nearby, try a boxing or self-defence class. As a woman, the classes have given me a boost of confidence - being able to feel that slightly bit safer when I'm walking down the road is something I wish everyone had.


2. Aerial Silks


I tried Aerial Silks this weekend and when I tell you I nearly died, I nearly died. I have never had a more intense arm workout - I genuinely felt that my arms were going to fall off and that once the lesson finished, I could have slept for the rest of the day. This is also great if you're looking to improve your upper body and core strength as well as your flexibility and coordination; trying to hook your foot around the silks (mid-air) to climb further up is deceptively difficult. For sure. It's also super fun just to hang upside down and feel like you could run away from life's responsibilities and join the circus.


Side Note: you can also get some sick photos for your Instagram page.

3. Dance Classes

Ever since Just Dance came out on the Wii, Dance class, Zumba, or even Salsa Dancing has been my favourite form of exercise. So, if you're looking for an intense cardio workout that had nothing to do with a treadmill or cross-trainer - book yourself into a dance class!! Getting your groove on in a studio with music blaring is the best stress reliever and great to improve stamina, fitness, flexibility as well as overall muscle tone. Just make sure to watch out for the inevitable Shakira feature.


Instead of going to a class you can also just go on YouTube and find the JustDance Choreography to your favourite song.



4. Yoga

Every morning I start my day off with a Sun Salutation and I go to one yoga class a week. Pilates is incredible as well but, my god, I sometimes feel that I'm going to die and it definitely feels like exercise. Yoga for me is a step-down and feels less like a workout. It's insane for improving overall muscle tone, strength and stability. Especially your core. There's usually a meditation at the end of the class which is probably my favourite part, ending my day in Child's Pose literally gets me ready for the best night's sleep.


5. Dog Walks

There is no better motivation to get my steps up than seeing my two gorgeous dog's faces looking at me, pleading to let them out for a walk. And pretty much as soon as I'm moving and seeing them run around, I forget all about the fact that I'm actually doing exercise. Equally, when they've had a good walk, they are much more likely to come and cuddle with me on the sofa at home.


If you don't have dogs, try volunteering at your local dog or animal shelter. They are usually always looking for extra help, especially with caring for and walking the animals. Since I've been in Cape Town, I cannot tell you how much I've missed my dogs but I help out at a dog rescue centre every week and looking after those animals is arguably the most rewarding experience.



Zeke and Zendeya were rescued as pups on the side of the road. I looked after them in the kennels for a couple of months and would walk them every Sunday. Seeing them run up to me in excitement was adorable and seeing them both leave to be fostered and later adopted was equally amazing.


6. Social Workouts


Make your workout social! Playing Racket Sports or Team Sports is the perfect way to improve fitness while also having a great time. I love playing squash or tennis with a friend. We are both horrific at the sport but we have the best time and I forget all about the sweat and effort (that is until I wake up the next morning aching). You can also arrange to go on cycling trips around a forest or city before stopping for lunch or coffee.


I went Hiking the other day up Lion's Head Mountain with a group of friends to watch the sunrise and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. Once you're at the top you forget all about the bruises and thigh ache, especially when watching the sun peak over the water. I'm surprisingly desperate to do it again.





7. Micro-Workouts

If all else fails, up your micro-workouts. Doing things like Vacuuming and cleaning surprisingly burns a lot of calories - or it does at least in my case. Shoving the vacuum around the house usually is enough to break me out in a sweat. It is not the most intense workout but including smaller ways to lift your heart rate will increase your daily metabolism leading to better muscle tone and overall fitness. Here are a couple of tricks and tips I pretty much live by.

  • Avoid Elevators: I always take the stairs. I tend to find that they take the same amount of time as an elevator. I live on the 5th floor in my building and I never take the elevator, unless I'm coming back from grabbing some groceries.

  • Go shopping in person: Get your groceries and shopping locally - not only can you support your local small business but you can also get some weight training in the process of carrying your milk and vegetables around.

  • Walk where you can: Walking is a great way that releases stress. I tend to walk everywhere I can within a 15 mins radius. This means I save money on transport and the planet, cutting my CO2 emissions from using the car.

  • Carry a bigger bag: A bigger bag means more stuff. More stuff means more weight as well as less chance of forgetting something. More weight means more of an arm workout.

  • Platform shoes: who needs ankle weights when you have platform Doc Martens?


So there you go. These are my 7 alternative ways of exercising. Hopefully, it gives you some ideas to keep fit and healthy and as always, a quick reminder of that.


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