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Want to stay fit but not a big fan of gyms? Check out these alternative ways to stay in shape wherever and whenever it suits you.

For some people, the gym is like their home away from home. Whether concrete gray and redolent with the smell of sweat, or bright and cheery with pop tunes playing, the gym is where many fitness fans go to hang out, meet friends, or do some serious training.

But what if you're just not a gym person? Or maybe you spend too much time on the road to be a gym regular? Does that mean you're destined for a life of just barely being in shape?

Hardly. You can get in a great workout without going anywhere near a gym. Lots of people do it. Here's how.

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Hit the Park for Interval Training

Weather permitting, the great outdoors is always a fantastic option: open spaces, fresh air, no crowds. And if there's a park nearby, even better. But all you really need is someplace where you can run short sprints (otherwise known as "suicides"), climb some hills, maybe throw in a few other kinds of exercises.

Find a park or any open area, and mark starting and ending points for your suicides. Warm up with some light exercise, then sprint from one point to the other. Repeat this interval 5-10 times, then finish with a cooldown.

If you want more of a challenge, find a hill or set of bleachers you can run up and walk down. Fighting gravity will add more resistance into the mix and make sure you get a good burn in your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

For added fun, throw some strength training into the mix by doing push-ups, burpees, or bodyweight walking lunges between your intervals.

For more ideas for how to train hard inside or outside, check out the conditioning section of "Raynor Whitcombe's Shoulder, Arms, and Power Conditioning Workout."

Spring for a Suspension System

You've probably seen those ads on TV for all kinds of crazy contraptions guaranteed to make you lean and mean. A lot of them are of questionable value; most end up covered with cobwebs or laundry. But if you're looking for an affordable, dynamic way to improve your overall body strength, suspension systems (TRX, GoFit, Jungle Gym) are effective, versatile, and portable.

Suspension systems consist mainly of straps and anchors and are small enough to pack in your suitcase. Attach the system to a doorframe in your house or a tree in the park, then use your body weight as resistance to do upper- and lower-body exercises, such as:

Perform as many reps of each exercise as possible in 1 minute. Rest 30 seconds before moving to the next exercise.

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Create Your Own Home-Based Workout

If you're not into pumping iron, then bodyweight training might be the perfect way for you to stay fit. Instead of using weights or machines for resistance, you use the weight of your own body. Here's a quick sample workout to get you started.

Perform as many reps of each exercise as possible in 1 minute. Rest 30 seconds before moving to the next exercise.

If you can get ahold of a couple of dumbbells, mix these exercises into your home workout.

Join a Local Sports Team

If you like the social part of going the gym but not the strength training or typical cardio workouts, join a team! The competitiveness of local sports teams can range from very casual to very serious to borderline psychotic, so find the right level of commitment for you.

Softball, biking, soccer, Ultimate frisbee, roller derby, trail running... People get together to pursue all sorts of physical activities that'll get you the workout you want—without the smelly socks.

Playing on a local team won't get you sheer muscular strength that heavy weightlifting will. But it's a great way to improve your reaction time, speed, and agility—and develop your cardiovascular fitness too.

These are just a few ways to get fit without the gym in the year ahead. Just for variety, think about doing these workouts along with a trip or two to the gym each week. What's important is to choose a form of exercise that you'll stick with. Consistency is the key.

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