Why You Should Quit Going to the Gym—Plus 5 Easy Outdoors Workouts

Learn five easy workouts that you can do anywhere outdoors.

Ben Greenfield
Episode #333

I recently read a fantastic article on Bloomberg.com entitled “Walt Whitman Is Not Impressed By Your Expensive Gym Membership.” The article details how, way back in 1858, the American poet Walt Whitman wrote a series of newspaper columns on the topic of “Manly Health and Training.”outdoor workout

One such column discussed avoiding the gym, and shows how much of a big believer in outdoors exercise that Whitman was instead. He says:

“Places of training, and all for gymnastic exercises should be in the open air—upon the turf or sand is best. Cellars and low-roofed attics are to be condemned, especially the former.”

He also encouraged learning and practicing bodyweight exercises that one can do anytime, anyplace. For example:

“To toss a stone in the air from one hand and catch it in the other as you walk along, for half an hour or an hour at a stretch—to throw forward the arms, with vigorous motion, and then extend them or lift them upward—to pummel some imaginary foe, with stroke after stroke from the doubled fists—to take very long strides rapidly forward, and then, more slowly and carefully, backward—to clap the palms of the hands on the hips and simply jump straight up, two or three minutes at a time—to spring over a fence, and then back again, and then again and again—these, and dozens more of simple contrivances, are at hand for everyone—all good, all conducive to manly health, dexterity, and development, and, for many, preferable to the organized gymnasium, because they are not restricted to place or time.”

What a man after my own heart! I’ve certainly written a comprehensive article in the past about how you can use natural movement such as crawling, lunging, carrying, swimming, hiking, and all manner of outdoor ambulation to gain massive improvements in athleticism and fitness—all while breathing in fresh air, getting nourishing sunlight and exposing your body to elements such as heat and cold (both of which can improve longevity, fat loss and more).

I’ve also highlighted the concerningly high levels of carcinogens in the air of the average fitness center, as well as significant amounts of harmful bacteria on the surfaces of fitness equipment such as treadmills and weight training machines, and the host of pollutants and airborne pathogens you encounter in the gym (you can check out this two part article series to read more about that).

In this article, I’m going to fill you in on five easy workouts that I have in my back pocket that I can do anywhere I have access to the outdoors, which, frankly, is just about anywhere. And if I’m in a polluted city, I pull out a few of the damage mitigating strategies I talk about here to keep my body from getting too assaulted by pollution.

1. My “pole” walk

For this, I grab a pole like a PVC pipe or an ash rake handle or a broomstick. Then I set out on a walk. Every hundred yards or so, I stop for exercises such as:

-Overhead squats holding the pole overhead while maintaining tension on both ends of the pole

-Walking lunges while twisting the pole to one side or the other

-Mountain climbers while holding the pole against the ground

-Overhead shoulder passes from the front of the hips to the back of the hips with the pole


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.

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