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7 Ways to exercise without a gym membership

This summer, there are simply no excuses not to get fit.

Not only is the sunshine and warm weather inspiring us to get moving and enjoy the outdoors, but a whole new approach to fitness training is also encouraging us to give our workouts a make-over.

“Drop-in” classes – a concept that offers flexibility and variety – are popping up all over the UK and the United States.

The advantage is that you don’t need to pay a standard gym membership. All you do is pick the class you want to attend and pay for it on the spot.

So it’s hard to get stuck in a routine and find excuses not to exercise.

“The most effective thing you can do to achieve the best body shape change is incorporate variety into your programme so that you won’t get bored or hit a plateau,” said Cathy Brown, a personal trainer at London gym The Third Space, in an interview published in the London Evening Standard.

Experts say “drop-in” classes can therefore be a great way to keep fit, healthy, motivated and see results as changing your workouts will keep your body guessing and fighting to adapt.

A whole slew of gyms and studios now offer an amazing selection of fitness classes to suit your schedule, taste and needs - from yoga, pilates, spinning, HIIT, dance, paddle boarding, barre, outdoor bootcamps, boxing to strength training.

The Statistic Brain Research Institute says that 67% of us pay for gym memberships but don’t end up using them. Here in Britain, that represents £37 million a year according to a 2011 survey.

Some argue that the availability of “drop-in” classes could alter the current fitness dynamic and signal the end of an era for “bog-standard” gym memberships as clients, more particularly women, adhere to this new exercise proposition and make it increasingly popular.

Earlier this year, ClassPass, a New York-based start-up, launched in the UK. The subscription service allows members, who can cancel at any time, to simply sign-up and then “drop-in” to a choice of about 175 different independent fitness studios and boutique gyms around London.

Its 32-year-old founder, Payal Kadakia, is one of those who contends that the “gym model is broken.” The company, which started in June 2013, is now worth more than $200 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

StriveClub is another new on-demand Netflix type fitness club based in London, which enables fitness enthusiasts to fit in exercise around their own schedule.

Here are some “drop-in” classes to enjoy, mix-up and incorporate into your exercise routine:


Project Fit

Word is this is the new Barry’s Bootcamp. It’s a concept studio that looks more like an underground nightclub than a gym. Think low lighting, exposed brick walls and music blaring. 

There are three levels - walker, jogger and runner – so everyone can push themselves within their own limits. 

The workout is relatively simple - short periods of high intensity activity followed by short periods of rest. Split into three sections, the class focuses on the treadmill, free weights and Bosu balance balls. 

Go if: You want to burn 1000 calories before breakfast. 
Pass if: Running is your weak spot. The session is quite heavy on the treadmill. 
First class: Free
One hour class: £20
Off-Peak class: £15


SUP Lesson

Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) is all the rage in Australia and the United States. 

Just because the sun isn’t always shining in London, you don’t have to miss out on the fun. Why not take the plunge and go for a paddle down the Thames? 

SUP quite literally consists of standing on a large surfboard and powering through open water. The combination of balancing and paddling is excellent for building body strength as well as improving your arm and leg muscles. 

Go if: You want to take a break from the daily grind and reconnect with nature.
Pass if: Plunging into cold water is not your idea of fun. The exercise is not easy so there is every chance you will get wet! 
Beginners 90-minute class: £45
SUP yoga: £25
5 SUP yoga classes: £100


Combining pilates, yoga, barre and aerobics, these classes are all about having fun to great music. 

Frame oozes cool leaving you with a skip in your step. There is a huge range of classes to choose from here and they all focus on small isometric movements to tone whilst burning fat all over – leading to long and lean muscles. 

Go if: You want to perfect your posture and flexibility and want a more fun alternative to a traditional weight class.

Pass if: You are craving a sweat session. This takes a focus on toning leaving you feeling lean and radiant.

From £9 to £25 per class



Barre at Triyoga 
If you’ve always wanted to release your inner ballerina (without anyone judging), this is your class as it is challenging without losing its sense of fun.
Combining ballet with the precision of pilates and the flow of yoga, the class is energising with a close focus on building alignment and strengthening the core.
Go if: You want to combine strength and flexibility and really focus on improving your core.
Pass if: You want to let loose and are craving a fast-paced workout.
Intro offer: £20 for 2 classes
Drop-in: £27.



Tucked away in a calming studio just off the buzzing Portobello Road, celebrity fitness instructor Elissa Elhadj lovingly leads a dynamic 50-minute workout which is the first to combine the strength training of pilates with a final ‘Speed 8’ circuit of HIIT interval cardio conditioning.
The combination of movements gives the whole body a total workout whilst also improving your stamina, balance and cardiovascular fitness levels.
Go if: You want a more challenging experience of traditional pilates.
Pass if: The art of balance is not something you wish to improve and the thought of coordinational exercises make you feel immediately clumsy.   
First class: Free
5 classes: £125 


Outdoor Fitness Collective, Yoga

Indulge in all things Zen by taking part in a yoga lesson situated in the heart of the panoramic Richmond park. 
The instructor, Penny, is very attentive to each student encouraging everyone to breathe deeper, stretch further and mindfully observe the beautiful surroundings.
Go if: You’re in need of a dose of TLC. Opt for a sunset class and enjoy the stunning scenery whilst perfecting your tree pose.
Pass if: Being one with nature is not your bag. This is a slow-paced and peaceful class that focuses just as much on calming the mind as it does on ensuring you give yourself a good old stretch.
Drop-in: £14


British Military Fitness - all over the UK
These classes - held in over 145 parks across the UK - are basically outdoor bootcamp sessions taught by ex-military personnel.
BMF is a complete body workout. You’ll be squatting, running, sprinting and in some classes, even partaking in a tug of war. People are split into three groups - blue, red or green - depending on your level of fitness. Everyone wears a bib with an assigned number, which the trainer will use to spur you on throughout the session.
There is a great sense of fun and camaraderie in these classes, not to mention fresh air and a healthy dose of competition. It makes BMF a top pick while the sun is shining.
Go if: You get spurred on by working in a team and being shouted out by ex-military officers!
Pass if: You used to cry in the locker rooms during PE lessons at school.
First class: Free
10 classes: £145.00

By Chantal Ouimet and Daniella Isaacs

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