Sometimes it seems like there are just too many barriers to getting fit. You have no time. You have an overuse injury. It gets dark at 5 p.m. You don’t like getting out of bed at 5 a.m. You don’t have enough money to join a gym.
Hold up. That last one may seem like a barrier, but it really isn’t. Even if you’re strapped for cash, you can get a good workout—for free. You don’t have to lay out tons of dough for specialized weight-training gear—you can create your own gym, DIY-style, from items that are probably lying around your house right now.
Here’s a full-body workout that takes advantage of the unexpected fitness tools already in your home. You can adjust it to last from 15 to 30 minutes (or more).
Stair-climbing machines can cost thousands of dollars and take up a lot of room in your house. But actual stairs? Chances are you have some of those already. Running stairs can be the warm-up to your weights workout or a fitness activity on its own. Spend a minute running the stairs during TV commercial breaks, and your cardiovascular fitness will see the rewards. As a warm-up to a larger workout, spend 5–10 minutes going up and down the stairs—slowly at first, and then with greater intention.
Critter Calf-Raises*: Do you have a small child or furry friend around the house? Combine calf raises with a quick snuggle with your dog, cat, or toddler! Holding your “weight” gently but firmly in your hands, stand flat on the floor, then raise yourself onto your toes. Lower your heels and repeat for 2–5 minutes. This small movement shouldn’t frighten your friend, but it will add the extra challenge of a few pounds. *Note: If your pet or child isn’t comfortable being picked up, try a pack of printer paper, a heavy book or two, or a gallon jug instead.
Gallon Squats: A plastic gallon of milk, juice, or water weighs about nine pounds, which can add a nice degree of difficulty to squats. Grab a gallon with both hands (or hold one in each hand). Bend your hips and lower your butt toward the ground, allowing the knees to bend. Keep chest up and eyes facing front. Make sure you can see your toes. Contract glutes to raise back up and repeat. Continue for 2–5 minutes.
Living Room Wall-Sits: Finish your leg workout with wall sits. Find an available section of wall and place your back against it, feet shoulder-width apart and a few inches away from the wall. Slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Work your way back up until you can hold your position for 2 minutes or more.
Arms and Abs
Wine-Bottle Curls: Start your evening right with a happy hour workout! A bottle of wine weighs about three pounds, which is a great weight for small repetitive motions like bicep curls. Grab a bottle by the neck in each hand, and, keeping your elbows tight to your sides, curl your forearms up. Lower and repeat until fatigued.
Lateral Raises: For a bit more of a challenge (and a dynamite way to sculpt your shoulders), use your bottles of wine to do lateral raises. Grab a wine bottle vertically by the base in each hand and hold them in front of your thighs, tops pointing straight ahead of you. Bend over slightly. Keeping your arms straight with just a very slight bend in the elbow, raise bottles out to each side until your elbows reach shoulder height. Slowly lower and repeat until fatigued. Do not use momentum to bring bottles up.
Russian Twists: To blast your core, try Russian twists. Grab a wine bottle vertically in both hands. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms (and the wine bottle) straight out in front of you. Keeping your back straight, twist all the way to the left and then all the way to the right. That’s one rep. Repeat until fatigued.
Needless to say, sealed bottles work best for all of these exercises. (And save your sparkling wines for drinking!) We won’t tell you how to use the wine after your workout.
Rolling-Pin Roller: Raid your kitchen drawer for a rolling pin and wrap it in a soft towel. Time to roll out those pesky knots and sore muscles with your DIY roller! Gripping both ends firmly with your hand, use the roller to slowly rub up and down across the length of your muscles (mainly your quads, hamstrings, calves, and IT band). This works in a similar fashion to the foam roller, but instead of using your body weight you're applying the pressure with your arms.
While gyms certainly serve a purpose, not everyone thrives in them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a good workout. Fitness tools can be found in every corner of your home if you’re looking with the right lenses.
Dana Lester has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. She is passionate about holistic wellness, eating fruit, and writing.