• Build your strongest body and mind with my free 5 day jumpstart
  • Couchless Living: Why We Said Yes to Minimizing

    Would you be brave enough to go couchless? Why would you even want to do something like that? What are the pros and cons?

    Couchless living may not be "normal" in our culture, but we love it. Learn tips for going couchless, the pros and cons, and why we got rid of our couch in this post. | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    In this post, I’m sharing our personal experience with going couch-free for the last two years, alternatives we have for guests, and what it looks like for us. (Literally…included in this post are photos of our living area!) Keep in mind that there are so many couch-free arrangements you could adopt. Your only limit is your imagination.

    The Problem with Sitting

    I mean, do I even need to fully expand on this? It’s pretty obvious even though most of us don’t want to admit: We sit too much. Or rather, sitting contributes to sedentary lifestyles and all the health implications that come from them.

    It’s something that I’m mindful of, and even though I work out and love to be active, I still sit. Sometimes more than I probably should. Neither Z nor I have physically demanding jobs (unless you count the fact that our fingers do a lot of typing). When I sit too long, my body gets achy. I slide and slump my way into poor postures.

    I’m not against relaxing in a comfortable position at the end of a long day, when I’m sick, or when I just want to chill out. But for us, continuing to couch-sit meant we moved less than we sometimes already do outside of the gym.

    Couchless living may not be "normal" in our culture, but we love it. Learn tips for going couchless, the pros and cons, and why we got rid of our couch in this post. | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    That idea breaks people’s brains sometimes and it bears repeating: You can exercise – even daily – and still live a largely sedentary life. You don’t have to be like a hummingbird on speed, either, but it’s worth taking stock to see just how often (or not) you move.

    Please note: I fully understand and am sensitive to the legitimate movement challenges some people have. There are a lot of you reading out there who do not fall into that category, though. I’ve also worked with people who had self-imposed limitations. Many of them were able to break through their own self-restrictions with practice and support.

    Inspiration for Couchless Living

    The seed for us to go couchless was planted in 2015. We attended the first AHS New Zealand International Symposium and heard a talk by Dr. Phillip Beach that touched on biomechanical health and the importance of being able to get from floor to standing. See his full talk below:

    We headed back stateside after that trip and started seriously considering going couchless. Inspiration also came from people like Katy Bowman and Agalée Jacob who speak openly about living with minimal furniture.

    The key reasons we wanted to get rid of our couch were to:

    • Invite more opportunity for frequently changing position.
    • Practice getting up and down off the floor more often.*
    • Open up more space in our living area for storage, including a large book shelf to hold our growing library. Said bookshelf is in these photos. I arranged it by the colors of the visible spectrum and it brings me so. much. joy.

    *The ability to rise from the floor from sitting garnered attention in 2012 after a team of researchers used this movement pattern to predict mortality in older adults. (1) A staggering number of adults and young people – even children – cannot perform this task, and it speaks to the “use it or lose it” maxim.

    Recently I posted these examples of getting up from sitting without using my hands, and a lot of people admitted they couldn’t do it.

    I like cool gym stuff and lifting heavy but it’s the icing on the movement cake. But can you get up off the floor without using your hands? . A surprising number of adults cannot, and it’s not just the elderly. Even teens and some young children struggle with this task. Here are three options — there are others I didn’t film (and okay, one is kind of a cool trick — but you get the gist). . One of the reasons we got rid of our couch was to increase our opportunity for getting up and down off the floor many times a day. You can still practice if you do have a couch but we wanted the extra space for a big bookshelf and multiple working situations. . If you can’t get up and down off the floor without using your hands or stabilizing against furniture, it’s time to practice. Our modern (western) world takes away our opportunities to change levels and positions, to get up and down off the floor daily. You lose what you don’t use. . With practice you’ll restore that capacity! For more on this topic see Harder to Kill Radio 111 with @nutritiousmovement! . ❓Can you get up and down off the floor without your hands? Leave me a 👋🏻 #movebetter #strong #strengthenyourbody

    A post shared by Steph Gaudreau (@steph_gaudreau) on

    It’s not a judgment or anything to feel bad about. Rather, I see this test as an opportunity to assess where you may have lost function and think about how to practice again. Sometimes, that means going out of your way to do things differently in an environment that’s taken away movement opportunities.

    How We Went Couchless (And What We Do Instead)

    Because we live in a small cottage – 600 square feet in total – we didn’t have the luxury of having a couch and setting up a cool place for us to use the floor. It just wasn’t going to happen, so we had to make a choice: Keep the couch or have usable floor space. Not everyone will have to make that choice so if you can keep your couch and use the floor, great!

    It took another half a year for us to finally get around to adopting a couch-free situation. I put up a post on Facebook about selling our couch and within a day, one of my local friends wanted to buy it and picked it up. Great! Now what to replace it with?

    We have wood floors which I love, but they aren’t remotely comfortable to sit on. If you have carpet, you’re probably already halfway there and may just opt for a few cushions. Here’s what we have:

    • Egg crate foam mattress toppers for some padding. I bought two queen-sized pads and sandwiched them together.
    • Duvet cover. I slid the mattress toppers into a queen-sized duvet cover which means it’s washable in case there are spills or dirt.
    • Big couch pillows. We’ve got a few oversized, comfy couch pillows to lean up against.
    • Yoga bolsters. These are great for sitting so I can work off the coffee table and provide a bit more support than a pillow.
    • Blankets. Tons, including yoga blankets.
    • Sheepskin. Depending on the weather, sometimes I’ll move the sheepskin we have on our bench to the sitting area.

    I’ve also seen people use bean bags and various other sitting implements like low stools to mix up their options.

    We also keep an assortment of yoga mats, foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and such on hand to encourage us to mobilize our tissues when we’re watching Netflix. (We don’t have a TV but we do watch shows projected on our giant closet doors using a short-throw LCD projector.)

    Couchless living may not be "normal" in our culture, but we love it. Learn tips for going couchless, the pros and cons, and why we got rid of our couch in this post. | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    But What About…?

    So, let’s address the elephant in the room.

    Isn’t being couchless weird?

    My best answer is that it’s only weird if you make it weird. True, in American culture, sitting on the floor is not the norm. (Katy Bowman address the roots of that cultural norm on my podcast. Hint: It has to do with the view that floor-sitting was uncivilized and savage. Anywho…)

    However, there are so many cultures that sit on the floor and many countries where it’s completely normal. I think it’s worth examining why we have hang-ups about it. I think it’s worth questioning if it’s actually doing us any favors to sit with our knees bent at 90 degrees all the time. Surely, the environments we are in don’t give us many opportunities to move freely, but unless we start demanding different things, we can’t expect the status quo to change.

    One place you do have more choice is in your own home.

    Other questions people ask:

    Where do you lay down?

    On the floor. The padding, cushions, and blankets we have there is plenty for us to feel comfortable enough.

    But wasn’t your couch more “comfortable”?

    Yes. But that’s exactly the point. It was way too easy to spend 4 hours sunk into couch cushions precisely because they were more comfortable. Now we move around and change position a lot more, and we’re less likely to laze around on a regular basis for many hours at a time.

    What about guests?

    This is the most common question we get. Look, we don’t have guests all that often. And it may sound harsh, but I’m not about to construct my living situation in a way that makes the very occasional visitor more comfortable. We have to be here every day! If you rarely have visitors, consider the concessions you’re making for people who hardly ever come to your house.

    And it’s not like we don’t have other sitting surfaces. We have a lovely dining table with benches that actually seats more people than our couch did. And we’ve also got a softly upholstered sitting chair. So far, nobody’s ever declined our invitation to come back and visit 😉

    Are you completely furniture-free?

    No. We still have a bed frame though it is lower to the ground than most standard frames. There’s the dining room table, comfy chair, standing desk, and various other storage units.

    Couchless living may not be "normal" in our culture, but we love it. Learn tips for going couchless, the pros and cons, and why we got rid of our couch in this post. | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    I’m not sure I can go all the way and completely go couchless. Any suggestions?

    That’s an easy one. Clear a space for yourself to sit on the floor. You don’t need a large area, and you may already have a suitable spot available. Make it comfy. Maybe you start by sitting on the floor while watching TV. (Dr. Kelly Starrett and his family do that. They still have a couch.)

    Challenge yourself to get up and down off the floor several times a day. Work up to doing it without using your hands or grabbing onto a support.

    Or progressively start sitting on lower and lower objects until the floor feels comfortable.

    Some of our friends have jumped right in and gone couch-free, too. We sit on the floor at their house. No biggie.

    In Conclusion

    Going couchless may or may not be for you, but consider whether your own hang-ups are what’s keeping you from experimenting with spending more time on the floor. Investigate different arrangements and do what makes sense for your lifestyle and needs.

    Getting up and down off the floor helps you use more joint range of motion, introducing more non-exercise movement into your day. And some day, it may even save your life.

    Two years into couchless living, and we have zero regrets!

    Have a question or comment about going couchless? Let me know, and I’ll get back to you.

    Pin this post for later!

    Couchless living may not be "normal" in our culture, but we love it. Learn tips for going couchless, the pros and cons, and why we got rid of our couch in this post. | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    Affiliate Disclosure

    Many of the links on this blog are affiliate links. Stupid Easy Paleo receives a small commission when certain items are purchased, but the price is the same for you. Stupid Easy Paleo, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

    22 thoughts on “Couchless Living: Why We Said Yes to Minimizing

    1. I live couchless and love it! I have an awesome reclining chair and office chairs and that is it. When I go to friends houses I use the floor. It’s fun watching their minds blow! Lol! Why are people so scared of the floor????

      1. Thank you for sharing your experience Katie! Yeah I have no idea why folks are so freaked out by it. I guess it’s because it changes the narrative!

      2. What a good question, Katie! “Why are people so scared of the floor?” That made me laugh out loud because it’s so true (myself included).

    2. Hi Steph!

      Thanks for the great post. Long time fan and IG lurker of yours. Where did you get that awesome wooden standing desk converter?!?! I’m wanting to convert to a standing desk, but am not crazy about the Varidesk. I’m a photographer and don’t want to edit sitting down all the time. I’m also a Pilates teacher and constantly active, but I feel that plonking my ass down for hours, even with scheduled hourly breaks still messes with my neck and hips. I’ve have got to change this! Thanks! Keep up the great wok! I’m really grateful for your insight, tips, and personal posts.

    3. I came to the post, after seeing your IG post, out of sheer curiosity. Wait….people sit on the floor by choice?! I’m living couch-free right now, however, NOT by choice. In April, I moved into a tiny apartment and like you, I had to decide between a couch and living space. Also, it was tremendously daunting to think about hauling a large piece of furniture into my space and setting it up, so in avoidance, I chose to go without. It has been a strange process, realizing that yes, I can actually sit on the floor and it won’t be weird. Initially, I tried everything to avoid sitting on my hardwood floors. So uncomfortable! I started by putting down a yoga mat, graduated to a wool rug, and just the other day, put down a fluffy blanket and a pillow. Still feels weird but also kind of magical. All this space, angles, shifting, adjusting. I don’t hate it! And then I saw your video about getting up off the floor. New level of movement for me (even that seems strange to say because don’t we all have to get up during the day?!) that I’m suddenly face with. I don’t think I’ll get a couch in the future. Really cool post!

      1. You’re definitely not alone Joanna! Thank you for sharing the evolution of your couch-less experience!

    4. We do have a couch, but only our dogs use it. They probably wouldn’t appreciate it if we got rid of it. Lol.

      Thanks for the reminder about practicing getting up off the floor without using hands. That and practicing various ways to get up off the floor was part of my fitness leader training for work with older adults and seniors, but I got out of the habit of practicing it.

      1. Aw I think dogs are way more adaptable than we give them credit for 😉

        Glad to hear that you’ll be practicing a little bit more, Francine. Skills for life!

    5. VERY Cool Post! I routinely sit on the floor in my own home and at my in-laws while watching tv. They all think I’m nuts. Do I care? Not a bit. There’s something instinctual about sitting/sleeping on the floor. Agree with the previous post (Joanna S.) – there is something almost magical about it. I feel a certain freedom that allows me to escape the mainstream, forget all the materialistic nonsense, let my mind clear and just be me. Sounds a bit dramatic but … there it is.

    6. Besides all the obvious, wonderful, under-rated health benefits of being couchless (couchless in San Diego? anyway…) there’s a certain freedom in being so unmaterialistic and no longer a slave to your belongings. LOVE it. I had a white couch once. (Yes. A white couch. How practical was that?) It was beautiful. I didn’t let people sit on it. No one could eat or drink near it. I vacuumed that thing every day. Did I enjoy it? NO. Not even a little bit. REAL living is grabbing a blanket, a pillow and snuggling close to the ones you love. On.The.Floor. Very Cool Post.

      1. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts, Karen. I find it interesting how easily we form attachments to furniture. Even examining those beliefs can be powerful. Your story makes me think of my grandma. She had fancy sofas in the front room that nobody was supposed to really sit on.

    7. Are there any exercises I can do that will help me/make me stronger so I can get up off the floor easier? I don’t have access to a gym.

      1. The easiest thing to do is gradually lower your sitting surfaces so you have to stand up from them. Basically it’s like doing a box squat. Lunges, squats, etc are all great and don’t require a gym.

    8. I have been practicing getting up off the floor hands free for a few years now. I am 67.
      We have a couch and dining table but I often choose the sit on floor. To help me practice getting up and down, I always sit on the floor to put my shoes on. i go barefoot often, so I have several opportunities to getup off the floor .
      I plan to create a little on the floor reading nook with decent lighting, to encourage floor time when I am relaxing.

    9. I went couch-less for many years – mainly because we couldn’t afford a couch! We just purchased one last year, but I still find myself sitting on the floor quite frequently 🙂

    10. Thank you for writing and sharing! I am a Restorative Exercise Specialist with Nutritious Movement (Katy Bowman) & certified athletic trainer, and getting on the floor is one of the first “goals” I give to my client to help with injury prevention and recovery. Our family rarely sits on our furniture (yes, we do still have some) and prefer to use the bolsters and pillows instead. They also are great for spontaneous obstacles courses and “bolster battles” (aka pillow fights) that we all take part in. Super fun way to get some additional movement in with my 40+-year-old body. 😀

      1. Thank you so much Beth! I love that you shared your experiences here. I know it’ll help inspire other people!

    11. I just want you to know that I convinced my boyfriend to go couchless by sending him this article! Excited to make the transition 🙂

    Leave a Reply

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

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.