When you think fitness, what comes to mind – fun or drudgery and effort? Do you imagine dragging yourself to the gym, dreading every work out? Do you make up ways to avoid getting it done? Are you tired of using the same equipment over and over?
Fitness doesn’t have to be an effort. You don’t have to dread the cardio equipment and fear the weights. Boredom is one of the top reasons that those who begin a fitness effort stop. If you’ve just begun your fitness journey, take heart. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of fun activities that do double duty, getting your heart rate up while being enjoyable. A workout that teaches a new skill can build self confidence, and the reality that you are improving in your new area of study makes you more apt to stick with it.
“Exercise doesn’t have to be boring,” says Shawn M. Arent, director of the Human Performance Lab at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “It can be fun and addictive in a good way.”
Here are some out-of-the-box fitness activities that are guaranteed to be an enjoyable time, a great addition to your daily schedule and a sure fire way to light your fitness spark!
- Krav Maga – The Israel Defense Forces’ hand-to-hand fighting and self defense system, taught to those who want to be able to handle themselves if attacked, combines kicking and punching, boosts your heart rate and helps you learn self defense. The objective is to eliminate the attack by any means necessary, and students are taught to use hands, feet, elbows and knees to disarm an assailant. Work at your own level, and you will get an amazing work out.
- Ballroom Dancing – Anyone who has watched an episode of Dancing with the Stars and seen the amazing transformations that have taken place among the contestants. Faster dances, such as the salsa, build your endurance, while slower ones, such as the tango, feature more muscle control and posture, utilizing core work. Legs get most of the workout in ballroom, but the arms are engaged as well, toning muscles and raising heart rates. The best part is, everyone can learn to dance.
- Boxing – If you’ve ever watched the movie Rocky, you’ve seen the incredible workouts that take place in the boxing ring. By learning self defense and how to handle yourself, you gain both self confidence and muscle while keeping your heart rate at an amazingly high level. Boxing works your arms, back and core more than anything, but most classes begin with jump rope and incorporate running as well.
- Zumba – The hottest thing to hit the gym circuit since Jazzercise, this dance form is set to Latin music and combines cardio and resistance training. It involves all parts of your body, works your core, improves your balance and yet, Zumba doesn’t feel like exercise. The party like atmosphere, club style dancing and the fact that you can dance with your friends makes the class time speed by.
- Belly Dancing – Based on natural body movements, belly dancing is a graceful form of dance that calms the mind while working the body. Belly dance classes feature flowing dance moves set to music, with fast-paced and energetic routines interspersed. Belly dance works on your flexibility, coordination, and a continuous movement class can burn as many calories as the same length of time spent walking.
- Surfing – Popularly thought of as a “California Boy’s sport”, surfing is admittedly a warm weather activity. It’s a high intensity cardiovascular exercise, using mostly upper body muscles to do the paddling work, and leg muscles to guide the board once you’re up. Since you typically spend more time paddling, it provides an intense upper body and core workout.
- Trail Hiking – Walking on a treadmill is walking to nowhere. It’s boring. Take that same activity to a park or a mountain, though, and you’ll walk further than you planned. An inexpensive activity that requires no equipment, it requires no special training, can be done by virtually anyone and can be done with friends or alone. Hiking burns calories, works your core and legs and because it’s a weight bearing exercise, it works your entire body.