Are you sick of slaving away on the treadmill and lifting weights to stay in shape? You’re not the only one. Modern day fitness has evolved past the age of going to the gym. People are looking for new and out-there ways to exercise. From trapeze to yoga on a paddleboard, these workouts may be wacky, but a few of them are a great excuse to get outdoors. So throw on your tentree gear, and start looking into trying one of these weird (yet wonderful) fitness regimes:
1) Laughter yoga (Hasyayoga)
Practitioners call it the “happiest wellness program in the world” for a reason. Started in public parks in India during the 90’s, hasyayoga combines deep breathing with laughter exercises. Laughter yoga is proven good for cardiovascular health and also as a means of fighting depression.
2) Barefoot running (naturally running)
In 1960, runner Abebe Bikila won an Olympic gold medal competing without shoes. It started a debate that’s still raging today: while footwear protects, does it create added stress to the body? Barefoot running may still be on the fringe, but marathons from New York to London record at least a few every year.
3) Pole dancing
It’s not just for strip clubs and burlesque shows anymore. Pole dancing’s become a mainstream workout in dance studios around the world. Women can take classes to learn spins, tricks and acrobatics on the pole – and in the higher levels, they even do it in heels. It’s proven to be a great way of building upper body muscle and flexibility.
4) Trapeze classes
We’ve all seen how svelte circus acrobats are, and that’s what’s inspired many to take up outdoor trapeze. It’s said to be a workout similar to gymnastics – good for the lats, abdominals and shoulder muscles. Flying through the air not only offers up an adrenaline rush, but also a breathtaking aerial view.
You may recall Prancercise from John Mayer’s music video for “Paper Doll”. It’s basically a form of power walking, although some compare it to low impact aerobics. Founder Johanna Rohrback describes it as a holistic fitness method, “similar to a horse’s gait and ideally induced by elation”.
6) Rebound (trampolining)
How about channeling your inner child on a trampoline? Believe it or not, this is actually an Olympic sport, and gymnasts perform daring acrobatics between jumps. The health benefits of rebound are said to be even better than jogging, as it’s less stressful to the lower limbs and feet. That’s what makes it a great exercise for seniors, or those recovering from injury.
7) Parkour (freerunning)
Developed from military training, parkour makes obstacle courses out of the natural environment. Parkour artists interact with buildings and structures in a series of moves with pretty interesting names: the “tic tac”, “kong vault” and “gap jump” are all standard repertoire. It can be a dangerous sport when people overestimate their abilities, but otherwise parkour’s a fun means of testing strength, balance and flexibility.
8) Paddleboard yoga
Coming from Rishikesh, India, this is an exercise that brings together old and new: stand up paddle surfing and hatha yoga. Practitioners balance on surfboards while going through traditional poses – out on the water, of course. This exercise focuses on balance and core strength, while soaking up the scenery of the Great Outdoors.
9) Hula hooping
Hula hoop fitness classes are getting popular right now in parks from London to San Francisco. Some pros make the exercise one step harder, by using weighted hoops to get extra resistance on the abs.
Besides being an international sport (just check out the Aquajogging World Championships!), this is a workout that’s great for the elderly and overweight. The water’s resistance is proven to have a low impact on the muscles, causing less soreness and tension.
11) Mud runs
The mud run is the real definition of “train dirty”. Participants fight through a challenging obstacle course of tires and balance beams, slogging through mud pits along the way. Teams compete to the finish line, often dressed up in outrageous, hilarious outfits.