Forget The Gym: How To Stay Fit In Your Student House

It would be such a cliché to open this piece about ‘how to stay fit at home’ by telling everyone that ‘it really can be done in your living room’, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. In fact, I’m going to do more than that, and encourage even the proudest of fitness fanatics to forget the gym for a bit.

Despite the gym’s obvious attractions such as lying on a bench next to a huge, sweating middle-aged man, we must all ask ourselves whether it really is worth the subscription fees. Admittedly, for those looking to pile on the pounds during an intense course of body building (I assure you, that phrase was as painful for me to write as it was for you to receive) what I have to say will undoubtedly be scorned. However, the primary goal of the majority of gym-goers, in my relatively restricted experience, is really just to look better on the beach, get a bit stronger and shake of the ‘skinny’ tag for something a bit less patronising.

If you’re still reading by now I’m assuming you’re not one of the aforementioned scornful crowd, and will therefore be able to take on board what I’m going to say without disparagingly puffing out your chest. Essentially, anything that can be done in the gym can be done just as well at home.

For example, if we take a classic gym exercise such as the bench press, this can be replicated almost perfectly by a good, old fashioned push-up. ‘A push-up?’ I hear you ask, how can something so simple get anyone anywhere in life? In fact, I would go as far as to say that the standard push-up, when done properly, is far more effective than monotonously lifting a metal bar over and over again until even the paint on  the wall gets bored with drying itself. Not only is it a less dull, less injury-prone exercise, but it works more of the muscles all around your body, such as the core, back and quads as well as the more obvious arms, chest and shoulder muscles.

The point I’m trying so desperately to get across without sounding like I’m an ill-devised web pop-up entitled ‘gainz 4 u’,  is that a living room with the odd well-positioned couch or sofa is a much more cost-effective fitness zone than any high-tech gym in the world. It’s free and it’s far more convenient.

Try it out, spend a month doing at least one hundred push-ups a day and you might just see the results. If a hundred is too many to begin with, then start with three sets of ten, gradually building up to the magic five sets of twenty. By adding in exercises such as lunges and squats, as well as the odd sit-up, it’s possible to work your entire body, not parting with huge sums of money or having to walk half an hour through the roughest end of town on a cold, December evening. Surely working out in your living room or bedroom with the antiques road show on in the background has to involve less hassle than finding a suitable, well-priced gym in the middle of nowhere. Still not convinced? Go on then, show me that scorn.

Alex Stockton

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