THE BLOG
06/02/2014 04:19 pm ET Updated Aug 02, 2014

Why You Don't Need to Go to the Gym

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"I've been been watching you," he says, resting his elbows on the blacktop of the desk. His muscles look like piles of rocks leaning against one another as they peek out from the edges of his shirt.

There are sweat bubbles forming on top of sweat bubbles about to make their descent from my forehead -- from my armpits.

I hardly ever go to the gym and when I go I use about six towels so that I don't have to rub against any of the germ-infested machines. Maybe that's why I'm here, in the office of one of their personal trainers, to get scolded for using too many towels. Or maybe it's because I kind of broke one of the tricep machines -- but I thought no one saw that!

"And you," he begins again, his thick German accent makes the tail-end of his words pop out and hit me even harder in the face, "need help.

I love working out -- but not at the gym.

If I stumble into a Zumba class or strap myself into a bike at a spin class, the "workout" twists itself into an activity that's oozing with fun. But the second I walk into a gym, with no plan or organized class to attend, I fall apart. I do cardio until I almost fall off the treadmill or someone's sweat from the elliptical machine next to me hits me in the eye. I lift two 8-lb. weights up and down a few times until I notice the people next to me lifting quadruple that amount, practically rolling their eyes at me. By the time I lay down on the mat to do a round of abs, I'm exhausted. I'm closing my eyes and pretending I'm back in Mrs. Kay's kindergarden class and this is nap time.

So, yeah, Mr. Trainer Man, I do need help.

"Let me show you," he says, getting up behind the desk and lunging into a series of workouts. "I'll train you for 6 weeks -- just $1,000."

So, yeah, Mr. Trainer Man, I do need your help -- but in order to get it, I need to win the lottery.

Going to the gym can be intimidating.

Figuring out how to use the machines can be as frustrating as trying to make your way around an IKEA store. The amount of money people will charge you so that they can stand next to you and babysit you while you lift weights and do a series of burpees, is more than some of us pay in rent (and if you can afford that, or want to try it out at first -- it's a fine idea!)

But there are other (free) ways to push yourself to work out -- ways that don't require two hours at the gym or a crowd of people working out beside you.

Here are some of my recommendations:

1. Download apps onto your phone or your iPad.

Some of these apps come with videos that you can watch and imitate while you work out. Some apps act like your very own personal trainer.

I was never one to love running -- but I wanted to start.

I downloaded Couch to 5K -- and it trains me three times a week. I went from practically wanting to collapse after running two minutes straight to being able to run almost two miles without stopping.

2. Google exactly what you want to learn how to do.

I never really have an hour or two to spare for a workout -- or maybe I do but I'd rather use it to read a book after dinner time or catch up on Mad Men. There's workouts you can do, in your own apartment, that take 15 minutes and will leave you adequately out of breath and as sore as you would from the gym.

Now I'm no certified personal trainer (not even close!) but I believe -- like most things in life -- it's not about quantity (how long) it's about quality (what you do).

3. YouTube videos will be your instructor

And unlike in real life, you can press the pause button when you need a break or an extra few seconds to mold your body into the position they are suggesting.

The Zumba class at my gym is only offered once a week at 8:00 p.m. and is filled with at least 75 people. I almost got my eye poked out once, during a Shakira song. There's hardly any room to move around in a class that full and you find yourself spending more time trying not to touch the person next to you than actually dancing. I found some cool YouTube Zumba classes that you can do at home -- by yourself (which also lets you bust out your wildest dance moves without wondering if people behind you are hurling over in shock).

4. Ask the person next to you.

If you have friends who want to get into shape ask them to join you for a workout. Having someone by your side helps kick your butt into motivation even more. Or, if you see friends of yours on Facebook who are really into working out, ask them for some tips or ways that you can get started.


P.S. I'm always looking for more DIY workout tips. Especially because now my new goal is to whip my butt so into shape so this trainer realizes it doesn't take $1,000 to learn how to workout. SO -- post some of your favorite workout videos or tips below! Or send them to me in a tweet.