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How to get fit in Soton when you hate the gym

Who else is regretting all those pigs in blankets?

I'm sure I'm not the only one whose New Year's resolution was to get fit and go to the gym more. I'm also sure I'm not the only one who, nearly a month into the new year, hasn't set foot in said gym.

Are you too starting to feel the self-hatred as the Netflix-then-gym plan is slowly becoming the Netflix-and-the-next-three-episodes-as-well plan? Despair not (yet)! The issue may not be your lack of motivation (it could be but we'll give you the benefit of the doubt). It could, in fact, be that you suffer from gymophobia.

Gymophobia: A chronic condition in which the sufferer just cannot bring themselves to go to the gym, regardless of gym buddy presence, bribery or pep talks.

Causes: Unknown.

Cures: Finding alternative fitness plans that actually work for you that you will stick to.

The gym isn’t for everyone. Fitness is a personal journey and as such the one-place-works-for-all idea is a myth. If you find an exercise that you like, then it becomes a lot easier to find the motivation to keep going; so here are some options you could try if you and the gym are not proving to be a OTP.

Sports Societies

The benefit of joining a sports society is not only can you get fit but you can also learn a new sport. Also they have socials! Uni is a time for experimentation right? Well when else in life might you really try Water Polo, Lacrosse, Quidditch or Ultimate Frisbee? Most clubs will happily take on people at the start of second term so no need to worry that you’ve missed the boat! It's a chance to meet new people and create some incredible memories (that you can only half remember by yourself) on Wednesday night socials. Sports societies are a great alternative to the gym. Only thing is, most require a gym membership if you want to join. There are societies that don't, like some dance ones but it’s something to consider!

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Fitness Classes

Some are run through the gym (so again, you’d still need a gym membership- there's always a catch!) but not all do. The Jubilee/Mayflower gym run loads of classes every day from Express HIIT to Indoor Cycling, Pilates to Core Fitness. If learning some moves for those Wednesdays Ocies is more your thing, Zumba is an hour of cardio that combines lots of different dance styles like Latin and Bollywood.


It’s easy, it’s free, it’s the student’s dream. Plenty of places around Southampton to start your journey to becoming a running master but the Common is always a shout (plus can lead to some epic Insta shots!) Could always work towards a running goal for extra motivation, there are 5ks 10ks and even the Southampton half marathon on May 5th – nothing proves your superior fitness status like a shining medal to proudly wear for all time.


A full body workout without having to worry about getting sweaty (although, investment in chlorine special shampoo is a shout). Jubilee pool doesn’t require a gym membership so you can dive right in with this one… Usually with some good tunes being played over loud speakers, the pool is a good way to get your fitness level up; according to the Fitbit app an hour of length swimming (at a decent pace) can burn 500-600 calories!

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If losing weight is your goal, then cardio is the fastest way to do that, but there are still so many benefits to giving yoga a try. It can improve flexibility, strength, balance and protect against conditions like arthritis. The mental benefits are also worth considering in this stressful time of deadlines; it gets you away from the cabin fever of the library, stretches out cramped muscles from desk work and makes you use a different part of the brain (to give the shrivelled thinking part a rest for once). Classes are run through Jubilee, there’s a uni yoga society, classes in the Portswood area and even decent YouTube videos that show up to an hour of yoga moves!

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So, just because you aren’t destined to be Insta-gramming from the gym at 6am with Ivy Park active wear and a flash of the treadmill screen to really tell the world how much exercise you have done, it doesn’t mean you can’t become a fitness guru in your own right!