We all know that exercise is essential for maintaining a happy, healthy mind and body – but for a lot of us, it’s a challenge. If you’re not naturally athletic, then finding the motivation to exercise can be hard. And though the trim ladies and handsome hunks in the posters for your local gym might make it seem like a sweat-free paradise, the reality is quite different.
Anyone who has signed up for a gym membership and dragged themselves along to exercise for the first time in months will tell you the truth: it can be a yawn-inducing experience that frequently involves embarrassing grunts, red cheeks and more sweat and tears than that time you tried to bake a chocolate soufflé.
While there’s nothing wrong with working up a sweat, there are hundreds of ways to get fit that can be more enjoyable than hitting the gym. Here are just a few fun exercises to get you inspired…
Salsa, street, jazz, tap, pole – we strongly believe there’s a dance class out there for everyone. Starting out can be a little nerve-wracking, so if you’re a complete beginner sign up for an introductory course and drag along a friend or partner.
You’ll be surprised at how many calories you can burn while having such a fun time. And next time you attend a family wedding? You can show up the bride and groom themselves with your slick moves.
Netball, hockey, football or rugby
One of the best ways to get into exercising is to do it with someone else – so imagine how much your chances will improve if you exercise with a whole group of people? Team sports might have been intimidating back in school (oh, the dread of getting picked last…) but when you’re an adult they’re a fantastic way of socialising and getting fit at the same time. Plus, they’re perfect for anyone looking to channel that competitive edge.
Instead of signing up for a regular gym membership, why not look into the kinds of fitness classes and fun workouts offered at the same centre? You could try your hand at something high-energy like aerobics or spin class, or keep the pace a little slower by signing up for yoga or pilates. You’ll find that having a set time to attend your classes every week helps you stay on track and motivated.
Swimming exercises and tones your entire body – and, handily, it also doesn’t leave you sweating or red-faced. Sign up to your nearest pool and you can go for casual dips, take to the lanes for some serious freestyle action, or even join an aquatic fitness class (despite what you might think, they’re a good workout for any age group!). For something a bit more energetic, get a friend involved and try your hand at underwater hockey or water polo. Yes, they are both real sports.
Looking to work out your stress and get fit at the same time? Then boxing, karate, judo or aikido could be right up your street. These activities are great if you want to build up muscle tone and stamina, but they’re also handy for self-defence. And don’t forget that there are all kinds of combat-inspired activities out there, each of which offers their own unique benefits – capoeira, for instance, combines elements of dance and acrobatics.
Something a little quirkier…
If none of those activities take your fancy, then how about something a little different? You can channel the big kid in you by trying your hand at hula-hooping (fantastic for building core strength) or trampolining, which helps improve balance and tone. Indoor rock-climbing is also a fun way to burn calories and strengthen your arms and back. As strange as it sounds, you can even get fit donning some armour and running around in (fake) combat as part of a live action role-playing game!
Whatever activity you take up just remember it’s the perfect opportunity to invest in some trendy new activewear… Shopping, anyone?