Before starting at the University of Alberta, Qasim Ali was determined to make a lifestyle change.

The engineering student had been overweight, but had dreams of modelling and someday starting a clothing line. He wanted to get into his best shape, but felt too insecure to go to the gym.

“To me, the gym was a place that all of the healthy and fit people went, and to be associated with people like that was something I could only dream of,” Ali says.

Ali isn’t alone in this feeling. Many people often say that the idea of joining a gym when they are already overweight is intimidating. Sometimes, so intimidating that they give up on getting healthy all together. Ali opted to work out at home with DVD’s he purchased from a bargain rack, and after several months, chose to take the step to use the University of Alberta’s gym facilities, which he now does several times a week.

“I had forgotten that fitness is battle within you, and once I realized that, I stopped comparing my beginning with someone else’s middle and gained the courage to go to the gym. It’s been the best awakening of my life.”

While the gym is a great place to get fit, build a support system, and meet your goals, for some, it’s just an unattainable goal. From lack of child care, to financial hardships, or the intimidation that Ali felt, some people just cannot go to the gym. However, healthy living isn’t exclusive to a gym. There are many ways to stay in shape at home. From workout DVD’s, home gyms, and even workout apps like DDP Yoga Now, working out at home, around your schedule, and is becoming a popular option. If the only time you have is midnight, you have the luxury of popping in a DVD and getting your sweat on (well, maybe not if you live in an apartment building) or going to your garage and lifting some weights in your home gym. There’s no membership fees, no waits for machines, and no rushing to the gym to find out that your hot yoga class is full. You are in complete control of your fitness routine.

For Johanna Vandermey, a registered practical nurse and single mom, the gym wasn’t an option. Between caring for her young son on her own, attending nursing school, and working nights at a karaoke bar, there was no time and no money for a gym membership. But Vandermey wants to be a role model for her son, and inspire others, so she thought outside of the box. Using yoga and aerobics videos she found on YouTube, and trading child minding services for free passes at a yoga studio, Vandermey was able to lose weight and build her confidence without spending money.

“I chose home workouts because I was a broke student parent, overly busy lady,” Vandermey says.

“I wanted to get healthy for my son, but I couldn’t afford a membership anywhere. Thanks to my new career, I can afford a membership at a gym now, but I still keep up my home workouts because sometimes classes just don’t fit my work schedule.”

In addition to working out from home, Vandermey created a Facebook group for friends to help them remain accountable sito. The Squatties now has over 200 members from all over Canada. Through this group, Vandermey shares fitness videos and tricks to help members stay motivated, regardless of financial situation or schedule.

“I started the group so six friends could get through a 30 day squat challenge because I learned that having a solid support system will increase your success. I wanted to build a community of people who wanted to make a difference, and use social media for a positive purpose,” Vandermey says.

There are so many amazing ways to get fit. If you’re feeling intimidated by the idea of a gym, why not follow Ali’s example and try some home workouts to build your confidence before taking that step? However, if you’re never ready, that’s okay. Maybe when it comes to your fitness needs, there’s no place like home.

By: Mary-Helen Clark