12 Quick Exercises that Don't Require a Gym Membership

Who says busy girls can't stay fit?
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Exercise is a key factor in staying healthy in college, but not all of us have time to head to the gym every single day, especially with classes starting back up. 

For those of us with busy schedules or who don't want to go to the gym, there are still plenty ways to get in shape and exercise. Below, I'll list 12 quick exercises you can do in your dorm room or on campus, most of which don't require special equipment. Let's get to it!

First, some optional dorm fitness equipment:

Dorm room fitness equipment

Products: Yoga Mat | WeightsJump Rope | Exercise Ball

Let me first say that you do not need any of the above equipment to work out in your dorm. Many of the workouts below do not require any special items.

However, if you have some leftover Christmas cash that you'd like to put toward your fitness goals, I recommend the above items: A yoga mat for stretching, a set of dumbbells (these are light for beginners but you could go heavier if desired), a jumprope, and a medium sized exercise ball. All of these are fitness basics and you'll use them for years to come.


Getting in your cardio doesn’t have to be about that 30 minute treadmill life. Cardio is just about getting your heart rate up and your body moving. If you’re someone who doesn’t have time for a full-on cardio workout, try these alternatives!

- 15 Minute Dance Party.

While you’re getting ready for your day or when you get back from class, schedule a little extra time for a dance party! This might sound silly but putting on some music and dancing and jumping around your room for 15 minutes is sure to get your heart rate up and get you sweating a little bit. (See our playlist section for music ideas.) As a bonus, this doesn't feel like exercise, it just feels like fun.

- Go for a Walk.

At the end of your busy day, it's great to unwind with a nice long walk. Invite your friends or family or dog to come with you - that way, not only are you getting some cardio in, but it’s a nice way to catch up. Also, some of the world's greatest thinkers have been known to use walks to boost their creativity, so it's good for that, too!

- Take the Stairs.

This one is so easy and so often overlooked! Taking the stairs rather than an elevator will also help get in some cardio for your day - every step counts, after all. Walking up an incline gets your heart going for sure. (Just prepare for a serious challenge if your dorm is on the 10th floor!)


You don’t need a gym to work on your core. There are tons exercises that work just fine with your own body weight! Below are some of my favorites. (Also check out r/bodyweightfitness on Reddit for full exercise programs using body weight.)

- Yoga.

elle yoga pose

Photo Credit: Elle.com

Yoga is amazing for strengthening your core. Almost all yoga moves use the core, so any kind you do will benefit your midsection. Not only will you be getting some abs but yoga is great for relaxation after a hectic day. If you don’t know too many yoga poses, never fear: there are plenty of great yoga videos to follow along on YouTube!

- Crunches, Sit-Ups and Toe Touches.

These are all great core exercises that require no equipment except your body! These work your upper abdominals, which is my favorite part to work, but see ExRx's guide for a full list of abdominal exercises for all of your waist muscles.

For Crunches, lay on your back with your knees bent and feet planted on the ground. Cross your arms over your chest and using your core, lift your shoulders up off of the ground and then go back down. Repeat as many times as you’d like.

For Sit-Ups, start in the same position as Crunches. Instead of only lifting your shoulders up off the ground, lift your upper body until your arms touch your knees and then go back down.

For Toe Touches, lay on your back with your legs in the air, feet towards the ceiling. Then raise your arms up and lift your upper body so that your fingers touch your toes and then go back down. This will help your flexibility as well.

- Hold the plank.

This staple of exercise classes is harder than it looks and will work your core like crazy. To do a plank pose, start in regular pushup position, then bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms with your elbows right beneath your shoulders. Keep your back straight - no arching! (You should look like this.) Tighten your abs and hold this position for as long as you can. 

Upper Body:

- Free-Weight Bench Press.

If you have some weights around your house or dorm and are interested in a little bit of lifting, the free-weight bench press is a great alternative to actual bench pressing. It works exactly the same only using your free weights instead of a bar. You can lie on a mat to do this so you don't necessarily need a bench.

(Psst: If you do want some of your own free weights, check your local Target, Marshall's or even 5 Below to get them at a decent price.)

- Push-Ups.

Elle Push-Ups

Photo Credit: Elle.com

If you don’t have any weights laying around push-ups are also a great way to work upper body strength. Do them with your hands lined up with your shoulders, then wider and smaller. Build up the number you do as you improve!

Lower Body:

Want to tone your legs and butt? These exercises will help you build muscle in those areas. Also, don't discount cardio when it comes to lower body-toning - if you're walking a lot or taking the stairs like we discussed above, you'll get some natural lower body effects as well.

- Dumbbell Squat (or Squat).

This is the classic booty and thigh move - everyone probably knows this one! You can do it with or without dumbbells. Just keep your arms at your sides if using dumbbells, or out in front of you like this if not, and bend your knees until your butt comes below your knees (this is known as "squatting below parallel"). You can also squat parallel - with your butt coming right to knee level - if you want to make it a little easier.

- Glute Bridges

Doing this in your dorm room is the best, since you'll avoid the weird looks you might get if you do it in a public gym. As weird as it looks, this move is killer for your glute muscles.

To do this move, just lay on a mat with your hands by your sides and your knees bent. Then, keeping your arms down, squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. (It should look like this.) 

If you want a challenge, there's a Blogilates video set to One Direction that's all about doing this move for three minutes - you will be sore the next day.

How do you stay fit in college?

For more exercise tips and ideas, see: How to Make Room in Your Life for Fitness, 5 Ways to Make Exercising Easier, and 5 Chic Essentials for Working Out.

Who said you have to hit the gym to stay in shape? Busy girls can work out too! What are some of your favorite exercises? Tell me in the comments.

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