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Jaime Longval, M.S., C.S.C.S.

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Staying Fit Without Access to a Gym

Ask the Expert


My gym goes on shortened hours from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day. With all the other activities going on at this time of year, I can't get to the gym when it's open. How can I work in fitness sessions without access to the ellipticals and weight machines?


One easy solution for getting a cardiovascular workout is to go for a walk or jog, depending on your fitness level, exercise preference and physical condition. You can walk or jog just about anywhere, for no cost. Walking indoors, at home, is a great option. Some cable companies offer walk-at-home programs as part of their free, watch-anytime services.

Lots of people enjoy walking outdoors, even in winter. But if walking in the cold is not your cup of tea, you may want to go to the mall—not to shop, but to walk! Some malls even open early specifically to accommodate walkers, so call your local mall to see if they do. Just remember to walk for at least 10 minutes continuously before stopping to shop. And stay away from the food counters selling cookies, cinnamon buns and ice cream!!

You can also keep up with your strength exercises during the time you can't get to the gym. The following exercises can be performed at home without any special equipment:

  • Push ups—These great overall upper body exercises work the chest, shoulder and tricep muscles all at once, so they're a good timesaver.
    • If the standard push up is too difficult, try a modified version. Get into a push up position and then drop your knees down so they are resting on the floor. Your body should be aligned from the top of your head to your knees.
    • Bend your elbows and lower your body toward the floor as far as you can without touching, then push back up to the starting position. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and maintain the straight line position.
  • Lunges—For overall lower body exercise, these can't be beat. They work the muscles of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and bottom.
    • Stand straight with your arms down by your side. Step forward with the right foot and lunge until you have achieved a 90 degree angle at your knee. Keep your abdominals muscles tight, back straight and left foot in place. Do not allow your right knee to go over your right toe.
    • While keeping your left foot planted, push off with your right foot to return to a standing position. Repeat on the other side.

Do what you can, but don't beat yourself up over not getting in a workout or two. You can get right back on schedule once your gym resumes normal business hours. Just try not to get out of your routine for too long. It's a lot easier to stop exercising and lose motivation than it is to get that motivation back and start exercising again.

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