4 Tips to Building a Workout Routine Without a Gym

One of the many hurdles recently placed in front of all of us is the disruption to our routines. 

For years I’ve been getting up before the sun rises and getting to the gym before most people wake up. For me, this was a critical piece of my daily routine. I lived for the morning lifts; challenging myself early on in the day set the tone for the rest of my day at the office. On the rare occasion that I couldn’t make the gym in the morning, my day fell apart. I felt unproductive at work, was irritable (my fiancé can attest to this), and felt a lack of motivation to get things done. 

When my gym closed this spring, my entire morning routine, which I relied upon, was forced to change. I knew my fitness program would have to change, but allowing my entire morning routine to disintegrate was the biggest challenge.

It was difficult to motivate myself when my new commute to the gym was a walk down my hallway for body weight exercises. I didn’t have the space, nor could I afford expensive weight sets. I was getting irritated with my at-home workouts and hated that I wasn’t leaving the house in the morning like I used to. As a result, I started sleeping in longer each morning and losing the routine that I had worked so hard to build over the years. Additionally, I found it difficult to get motivated for work – I was losing interest in the projects I was working on and didn’t feel like myself. 

Thanks to my GORUCK Sandbag and rucksack, I fell right into my old habits – I felt reinvigorated, started getting up earlier, going to bed earlier, got more done around the house, and started delivering a better work product. Here’s four tips on how to get back in the swing of things without a gym:

  1. Develop a Schedule

Mine starts the night before, eating dinner early and getting into bed before 9 pm. I set out my clothes and plan my workout the night before. I rarely deviate from my schedule – I’m up at 4 am and leave the house at quarter to 5, and finish working out by 6 am. You don’t need to be up at 4 am, but set a schedule that works for you, and revise as necessary to fit your life. 

Prior to the pandemic, I was driving to and from my gym every morning, a 30-minute round trip commute. I didn’t realize how much I relied on that part of my schedule, so I incorporated a “new commute” into my schedule aka a five-minute walk with the sandbag over my shoulder and rucksack on my back. Losing that gym commute was originally a negative for me, but now I save 2 hours each week, not to mention the other hassles of driving, parking and paying a gym membership.

2. Stay Consistent

The key to any good routine is preparation and consistency – the less I need to think, the more likely I am to stay on track. One action can create a habit, and the few habits can evolve into a routine. 

Let’s face it – getting up at 4 am is not fun or easy; if it were, everyone would be doing it. I used to be a night owl – staying up late to get work done and not sleeping enough. Once I decided to make the change, it took me three weeks to feel comfortable waking up and working out so early, but after following this routine for 6+ years, I cannot imagine doing anything else; the hardest part for me was just getting started.

3. Track Your Progress

I can’t improve what I don’t measure, so I track everything, including my workouts, the food I eat, amount of water I drink, my weight, the quality of my sleep, and my physiological data – all with just a few apps. Tracking your progress can help you stay motivated.

4. Foster Accountability

I’ve found that having someone else (or a group) holding you accountable for showing up is key. There will be days you don’t want to get out of bed, but with someone else counting on you, turning over and going back to bed is generally not an option. This person can be local or live across the country – just find someone with a common goal and hold that person accountable, and trust they will return the favor. 

My close friends have always laughed when they heard me talk about my morning routine. But now, guys who I never imagined getting up that early are now meeting me in the park at 5 am to throw the sandbags around (and we don’t even live in the same neighborhood). We’ve got a solid group that meets every morning – and we all hold each other accountable and expect each other to be there, which makes those early mornings that much easier. I was happy to share my bag but it didn’t take long for them to see the benefits of buying their own. Not only are we getting a great workout in, we’re able to use the time before and after we workout to catch up with each other. 

If you’ve been thinking of building your routine or changing an unhealthy one, the most critical step is to take action. Try something new and build momentum each day with little changes…the hardest part is getting started!


About the Author

Kevin and his fiancé run a travel blog. They are taking a pause right now on travel content and diving into training.

Featured Gear: 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *