People will only work towards the goal of losing weight for so long, especially if they aren’t seeing results. It’s the Sisyphus myth, pushing the stone to the apex of the mountain only to have it roll back down over and over.
Push it again? Heck no. That feels like work.
But what if the stone was a colorful ball? What if you didn’t have to push it, but could throw it as hard as possible, at another person? What if doing a good job of throwing meant you were the winner? Now we’re talking…
Burning calories in ways that don’t feel like work are the best ways. Until recently our options were hiking the local ridge or doing house chores. Ew.
Here are five ways you can get your workout on without doing a series of boring exercises by yourself and without wearing a leotard. These are the funnest (yes, it’s a word) new ways to stay in shape.
Developed in France in the late 80’s, Parkour was invented to create dynamic individuals, strong in body, mind, and ethics. It expanded in the 90’s and early 2000’s via viral videos but is still only practiced by a core group of enthusiasts.
Practitioners engage with their surrounding environment in explosive ways, jumping long expanses, bouncing off buildings, all while performing aerial stunts.
Because Parkour environments are never the same, practitioners have to be very adaptive. Parkour requires a versatile endurance athlete. The work goes from ground-level stunts to high-flying daredevil maneuvers, at unspeakable heights.
Think you could join the Parkour crowd? Tread carefully and carry insurance. This is a volatile sport. Don’t just jump into it.
The scourge of family gyms execs everywhere, Crossfit crept through the ranks of the mom and pops, which make up around 80% of the fitness industry. Often criticized for their approach to fitness, but even more for the fanatical nature of their practitioners, Crossfit is judged harshly. In truth, it probably does more right than it does wrong.
Attendees, or “athletes” as Crossfit instructors refer to them, pay premium gym fees to take classes, combining traditional Olympic lifts with gymnastics techniques. The blend is implemented into Workouts Of the Day, called WODs.
The environment is communal but competitive. Athletes are timed on their execution of WODs, encouraged to beat prior times for the same WOD or beat the other athletes with a shorter completion time. As mentioned, Crossfit breeds dedicated practitioners to the level of cult-like behavior. It should also be said, participants loathe being referred to as cult-like, so let’s keep it between us.
Crossfit is sometimes criticized for the number of injuries it produces, pushing the athletes to favor speed over technique in some facilities. Advocates argue that not all gyms, or “boxes” as they call them, are this careless. In any case, injuries happen, even in family fitness centers.
To Crossfit’s credit, these marks against it have not slowed down the wave. It’s still the fastest growing gym formula of the bunch. Our hope for Crossfit is that they survive the backlash, growing stronger from their feedback.
Often confused for Crossfit gyms, functional training outfits generally apply movements which translate to real-life functional movements, thus the name.
Because the term functional training is more of a movement than a brand, the practice varies widely. Often they employ much of the same equipment as Crossfit gyms. In fact, it’s not unheard of to find gyms that split their time between Crossfit and Functional fitness.
Unlike traditional group fitness training, functional training doesn’t waste time on movement for the sake of movement. They consider that silly exercises like knee-ups on the stepper have no real-life application. Instead, they train simple movements like squats, which translate to everything we do with our legs, from climbing stairs to not falling when we slip on sand.
Functional movements tend to employ total-body movements. Those movements grow progressively more complicated as practitioners gain competency.
Really, this could be the section titled “Childhood Games.” We could be talking about freeze-tag, kick the can, t-ball, kickball or just about any game you played in gym class. Dodgeball simply took center stage in this arena, probably due to the 2004 film starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn.
Playing adult-level, organized team sports has carved a pathway through more traditional sports, like softball or volleyball. In many cases, non-traditional team sports are more organized, more serious, and less drunk. In the past, if you wanted to play team sports to stay active, it meant draining a keg between innings.
With dodgeball, opponents may try to smash you in the head with a ball so you’d better come with some athleticism; emphasis on the word “some.” Injuries do happen from time to time. Needless to say, running into another adult at any speed is never comfortable.
Like Parkour, sign up for health insurance beforehand. More importantly, plan to have laugh-until-you-cry fun.
Yes, you read that correctly. This is really a thing. No, it is not just for exotic dancers. Practitioners of pole-dancing lobby that dancing on poles for non-explicit reasons predates the seedier versions.
The act of holding one’s weight on a pole requires little coordination, but a massive amount of endurance. The best part is, other than leg burns and maybe the occasional fall from a few feet up, injuries are low.
Most pole-dancers will start in classroom environments, but buying poles to install in your home is easy enough to do. You can practice pole-dancing anywhere you can install a pole, so you could even do things like watch TV while you hang upside down.
Circus activities like aerial dancing, different but similar, employ silk or other fabrics in similar ways. Both are much harder than you think; burn way more calories than you would imagine.
Rest assured, you don’t have to wear funny clothes or turn into a meathead to find fitness. Today, you can find not only better health through play, but you can find a community of like-minded folks while you get in shape.
You may find that you lose those extra pounds you’ve been trying to ditch, but more importantly, you’ll find your stride with fitness.
While you’re busy trying to out-kick, out-throw, or out jump the other guys, you may start to consider other aspects of your life that you want to change.
You may find a whole new you.