“I’ll never use a gym again.”
After years of spending time restricted to the belief that I had to use a gym to look good, build muscle, keep fit and thus feel good. Along with the belief that my clients who I trained as a PT did. I can honestly say after finding the best way to keep fit without a gym (we’ll get to it) I won’t step foot inside a one again.
Along with feeling better and believe I look better than I ever did since not using a gym. I’m no body-builder or power-lifter. But I have a passion in health and fitness and a passion to help others within it. I want what the 99% of us want. To feel good, look good and be healthier.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing the gym. I don’t have a problem with gyms I think they’re great. But people can become confined by them, as I have. I used to think I can’t be away from a gym, or not be in the vicinity of one, for more than two weeks. Talk about an anchor of a psychological thought.
With a little knowledge and understating. I believe we don’t always need a gym to stay fit. Below, some recent poses in my Mexican front garden, Tulum. Four months out of the gym.
So, what is the best way to keep fit without a gym?
Well the clue’s in my name. The best way to keep fit without a gym – is with a TRX. Before you hit me with “is that it” hear me out. With this one tool I’m not restrained to that constant thought of “where’s the closest gym?”or constrained to times and what I can afford. I find a TRX challenges my body, mind and nervous system in truly unconventional ways in comparison to standard gym workouts. But the biggest differences? I find they came down to five things.
Five life benefiting reasons why this is the best way to keep fit without a gym
I’m getting a little inner-soul / inner-head rambling here as apposed to the actual functional and physical benefits of using a TRX outside of the gym. But I believe a strong inner mind-set and attitude in this psychological area leads to better improvements and performance in the physiological area.
We compare ourselves to others. It’s human nature we can’t help it. In the gym I’d always be looking at others. Looking at the guy (or girl in some aspects) who’s more ripped than me, the guy who’s lifting more than me. A guy who seems to know ten times more about fitness and nutrition than me. As the saying goes – there’s always a bigger fish and I always felt like Nemo.
Psychologically it left me deflated and often I didn’t put as much effort in because the notion of “I’ll never be as good as him” or “what’s the point” would creep in. I’d go back to just ticking boxes mentally, do bench, do squat, leave. My focus would slip in the gym from my goal and onto other people and how I compare to them.
Now it’s just me, my TRX and currently the sunny sky of Tulum, Mexico in my lush green front garden. Quite the contrast to the neon lights of Gym Box in London. And because it’s now just me and my TRX I’m not looking at others, not looking at what they’re lifting, which piece of equipment is free, thinking would he mind if I use that and how do i approach him to ask for that. Yadda-yadda-yadda.
The turn of the tide
My focus is just on me, what I want to achieve and what I’m aiming for. I have my own personal space, I think specifically about the exercise I’m about to engage using the TRX and how to do it. Not once am I distracted by anything. The focus broadens into my body instead of the people around me. I focus and feel the muscles being worked and psychologically connect my mind to them better (Arnie’s great beliefs).
Granted living a nomad travel life adds to the elating feeling. But I could be anywhere, not necessarily just seeking travel workouts. If I was at home chasing home workouts or in a park then same focus and training benefit would be achieved.
After every single session I feel great. What’s more, over time training like this I feel I look great. Which is something I’ve rarely ever felt when bashing the gym. As my focus was always externally comparing myself to others there.
By anywhere I mean I can exercise anywhere in the world, as I currently do (cheeky smug grin here). I don’t feel restricted about leaving my worrying comfort zone thought of ‘I must be close to a gym.’ Thoughts of:
- Will I loose muscle mass
- My arms may get smaller
- I won’t be able to train and thus won’t look good
- I need to get back to the gym (thought whilst away from it)
- I’ll gain weight immediately
- … The list goes on and on and on
I feel I can take fitness with me. Which sounds crazy as fitness is already within you, but we need tools to aid us right? And this tool has become a salvation to me. I don’t feel the same if I can’t exercise, I don’t feel myself. It affects me and the people around me. Even when I lived in London taking a simple trip up north to see my mum. I had no gym membership there. I believed I couldn’t exercise because I HAD TO HAVE A GYM to do so. By the end of the week I’d feel down, be aggy and be deflated and my poor mother would have to put up with that. I’d have an exhaustive urge that I need to get back to the gym to feel normal again.
I mean it’s a healthy thought and I don’t have a problem with the thought. I have a problem with the link of needing to be near a gym that the thought creates. Whether you’re wanting travel workouts, home workouts or maybe you’re already sold on not needing a gym and just want a generic no gym workout. I’m telling you man a TRX is your answer. I have some plans here for them by the way 😉 and I’d recommend buying this one here (cheeky cross-sell ey).
3. Overall Fitness
I find training with a TRX over conventional gym workouts has improved my muscle development, aesthetic physique, flexibility, core development and my cardiovascular output. I wrote a detailed post on these individual areas here.
In a gym I was confined to the robotic systematic nature of it. I must tick the squat rack off, I must tick the bench press off, without really aligning my goal first then the best methods of achieving it. The equipment, or more so the routine of using it became my focus and I’d tend to loose track of my goals. For instance, my focus should have been on time under tension, the stretch of the muscle at the end of the eccentric phase, the squeeze at the top of the concentric phase, the angle of my movements, the tension in my core etc etc. Not bench – use.
Training outside in mother nature with my own personal space. I have no distractions, no-one rushing me. I look at the TRX and think what/how do I want to train? How/which way can I use the TRX to achieve it. My focus is then on the setup, the angle, my stance and finally the eccentric and concentric movement. The simple task of analysing the TRX and questioning it engages my brain and focus ten times more than being a conventional gym monkey.
You can find a more detailed post on the physical benefits of using a TRX here.
4. Time and money
In London the cheapest ‘useable’ gym is around £40 a month. That’s £480 a year. I’ve been paying for a gym in London averaging £50 a month for ten years. That’s £6000. I could travel the world for 6 months comfortably with that. I now put my monthly gym money, which I’ve never had anyway, into a medium-risk investment account. Figure I’ll look at it in another ten years. Which leads me onto something more valuable than money, Time.
We’re ruled by time and mostly it’s on the same rules as others, 9 – 6 working. Before, after and weekends – free. Problem is, that free time is when people like to go to the gym and by god do many people like to go. I think I’ve wasted more time in my life waiting for a spare bench, squat rack or dumb-bell than I have waiting for anything else. Bugger it, here’s another estimated calculation.
I reckon I spend 3 mins on average waiting for something or someone in the gym within a one hour session. Trained on average 5 times a week. That’s 15mins a week, 780 mins a year, 7800 mins in ten years. 130 hours I’ve spent waiting for a spare bench, squat rack or dumb-bell, 5 1/2 days of my life. That’s fucking mental.
With a TRX at my disposal I now not only save money, which is a huge help whilst living as a nomad, but also time. I train whenever I want and in whatever space I want not waiting for anyone.
5. Creative fitness
I would normally only ever change-up my routine every 3 or so months. How exciting it was to go from a bench press to dumb-bell press. Alright I’m being a bit of a sarcastic hater here. To put it simply I’m always looking for new ways to exercise differently with a TRX. I really get creative and it breaks the mould from the convention of gym routines that my body is so used to. It’s fun and challenging to see how you can change things up and I look forward to that challenge.
I now switch things-up every month and the variety or possibilities is crazy. A lot of this is reflected in my plans I can pretty much guarantee you’ll find a new ache or unused muscle doing them.
I don’t have the days of feeling I need to get in, get this done and get out. I have the feeling of putting myself to a challenge, a task. Pitting myself against myself. The benefit of the physical changes are just a plus from the great feeling of accomplishing the challenge.
Changing it up
I look at ways to challenge strength for low reps with unusual angles and body positions compared to hypertrophy with high reps and angles focusing on big stretching tension in the muscles. Most of all this has lead to an increase in my functional fitness. Stronger rotator cuffs and solid shoulders, no hip or lower back pains.
A reduction in un-balanced physique across my shoulders and traps. I’m not saying you can’t and don’t get this with gym training. But I do believe you naturally incorporate it with TRX training as opposed to having to specifically plan for it in a conventional gym environment.
Maybe TRX could just be an added addition to help you out with the gym. Maybe it’ll change your life quite significantly like it did for me and you’ll find it the best way to keep fit without a gym. But then I am simple minded. Either way let me know your thoughts on it below.
I find pairing a TRX with a resistance band (as you’ll find in my plans) is an incredible pairing for development. You can find my videos with many exercises incorporating them both on my YouTube channel.
I have a post on the benefits of using a resistance band here.