The appeal of hitting the gym shows no sign of waning but running on a treadmill or lifting weights certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re keen to improve your fitness levels there are many exercise options available today that go way beyond the traditional gym membership.
We’ve spoken to a range of fitness experts to find out what alternatives are out there:
Static trapeze – by Mark Gibson, Aerial Edge
Unleash your inner circus performer by learning aerial acrobatics. A starting point is to train on a static trapeze as this gives you the opportunity to take a break between moves. It’s great for fitness because you work all of the opposite muscles, like you would in something like martial arts, as your body is constantly fighting to defy gravity. It develops core body strength in particular, but also builds all over strength. People tend to be attracted to this type of activity because it’s never boring and you can learn at your own pace.
Yoga – by Angela Sykes, Yoga Kula
Yoga is becoming more and more popular because with the right teacher, students can really start to see positive changes in their body and mind. Attending regular classes can help increase flexibility and strength, as well as calm the mind and aid relaxation. While practising yoga there’s a focus both on the physical poses, which are called ‘asana’, and also on breathing. This boosts health as we get more energy into the body through the breath. Our muscles can get weak and tired from sitting at desks all day and jobs can be stressful. So, yoga is a tonic to modern life because it brings us back to centre, can help to relieve aches and pains in the muscles and joints and allows us the time and space to truly unwind.
Trampolining – by Mike Abbott, Bradford Olympian Trampoline Club
Trampolining is growing in popularity. It has countless health benefits and can be practiced by anyone from novices to experts. It’s great for building co-ordination, spatial awareness and balance. Very closely linked to building self-esteem and happiness, it’s very rare to see a new person get onto a trampoline, take a few jumps and not smile! When you jump off the trampoline bed, you have to hold yourself upright, which means you use all muscle groups in the body to maintain balance.
Ballet – by Katie Geddes, The Dance Studio Leeds
Ballet is a fantastic way of keeping fit and it’s something you can start at any age. The freedom of movement means you can get completely absorbed in it. The exercises and movements help strengthen, tone, and increase muscle flexibility, whilst helping you to improve your general posture and core stability. This is something that you can then implement into everyday life, such as how you sit at your desk in the office.
Hoola Hooping – by Pete White
Far from just being child’s play, hoola hooping is a complete core workout. You’ll find that your glutes, thighs, hips, legs and abdomen benefit, and because you can twirl the hula hoop around your arms, your shoulders and forearms get toned. Hoola hooping is comparable with step aerobics in terms of the cardiovascular benefits and because it’s such a low impact exercise, just about anyone can use it to increase their endurance and general levels of fitness. If you use all parts of the body, up to 600 calories per hour could be burned. It is great fun, and reminds you to play at any age!
Boot camp – by Paul Smith, UK Outdoor Fitness
Boot camp isn’t as scary as it sounds! It gives you the chance to meet new people and spend time outdoors. Your expert instructor will guide you through all of the exercises, such as squat thrusts, star jumps or burpees, as well as functional bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, press ups, ab crunches and plank. These can help you tone up and lose weight – if this is your goal. Attending boot camp means you won’t have to use fad diets or be stuck in a gym.
Swing dancing – Robert Shield, Swing Dance Leeds
Since shows like Strictly Come Dancing have appeared on our screens, swing dancing has soared in popularity. Not only is it a great form of aerobic exercise but taking part in classes means you also meet lots of new people and have fun. You’ll be surprised at how much you sweat during a session – and the next morning, you’re sure to feel it in your legs!
Not only are these alternatives to the gym fun, they will also help keep you healthy! So why not find out what is available in your local area.
Another great way to keep yourself and your family healthy is by having a health care cash plan from Sovereign Health Care. From just £2.52 a week, the Sovereign Health Care cash plan allows you to claim cash back towards a range of everyday health care costs including glasses, contact lenses, dental treatment and check ups, physiotherapy and much more.