The majority of us really don’t like going to the gym. There are those rare exceptions, people who really love to run on the treadmill, slay the Stairmaster, and pick up heavy things and put them down over and over. For those people, going to the gym is recreation, for the rest of us it’s borderline torture. But, we all need to keep our bodies moving in order to stay healthy. If we hate going to the gym, we need to find some other method of exercise in order to stay in shape.
In an attempt to make exercising more fun and bearable, fitness gurus have developed all sorts of exercise classes that combine fun and fitness. These classes put a spin on traditional exercise by adding a group setting to boost motivation and by adding out of the box activities in order to make exercise more fun. Some of these exercise classes are adaptations of traditional gym activities. BodyPump and Crossfit are popular variations on solo weight lifting. Spinning classes are a new take on cycling for fitness. YogaCore is a more fitness oriented version of yoga.
Some fitness classes turn fun activities in to exercise by upping the intensity. Zumba is a type of high intensity dance class that gets the heart pumping. Many fitness centers have added boxing and kickboxing classes which focus on fighting techniques as a way to get in shape. Other fitness centers have a rock climbing wall where adventurous types can burn calories climbing.
Some of the fitness classes fitness gurus come up with are truly outside the box, bordering on downright weird. Some of these weird fitness classes gain massive amounts of devotees and become full-blown fitness trends. Here are some of the weirdest fitness trends that are blowing up in 2017.
13 Dog Yoga
Dog Yoga, also known as Doga, is proof that dog lovers will find a way to include their dogs in literally everything. So how, exactly, do you practice Doga? While you’re practicing yoga at home, you can just wait for your dog to become curious and let them approach you. When your dog wanders up to your mat, let them investigate your movement and then start to incorporate them in to your poses.
If you can pick up your dog, hold them above you, Lion King style, while you’re doing Warrior I or Warrior II. If you have a larger dog, put your head on them while you’re in child’s pose. Or you can just allow your dog to move naturally around you while you practice, being aware of their presence. More likely than not, your dog will join you in a Downward Dog or two.
If you want more insight in how to include your dog in your yoga practice, check out Doga classes in your area. Yes, there are certified yoga teachers who teach Doga classes.
12 Aqua Zumba
By this time, most people are familiar with the dance based exercise class, Zumba. Zumba incorporates Latin beats and dance techniques to create a fast paced, cardio workout. Zumba doesn’t feel like an exercise class; it feels more like a dance party. It’s one of the most fun ways to get your sweat on.
A new twist on Zumba is currently blowing up the fitness scene: Aqua Zumba. The dances from Zumba class are transported in to the pool and participants dance it up in the water. The twist on the traditional Zumba class has a lot of different benefits. The water adds extra resistance, which adds an extra strength element to the class. At the same time, the water makes the dances more low impact on the participant’s body which makes these classes more accessible to older people or people who have chronic injuries.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn to surf, but you don’t have access to the ocean, then Surfset is for you. Surfset makes a proprietary apparatus that simulates the experience of surfing indoors. The apparatus is essentially a surfboard on a ball that sits on a platform that allows the surfboard to move. The platform creates instability, which means you have to use your core and other muscles to stabilize yourself while you stand, lie, or squat on the indoor surfboard. When standing on the surfboard, the platform allows the surfboard to move as if you’re on water.
Surfset classes are offered at many fitness centers. The classes run through a series of movements on the board, many of which are like real surfing. The classes also include typical strength building movements like squats, pushups, and lunges, all performed on the surfboard, while it’s moving.
10 Mermaid Classes
Yes, you can in fact become a mermaid and learn to swim like one, if you have a mermaid class in your area. When you sign up for mermaid class, you’ll literally get transformed. Participants wear an actual mermaid tail. The tail covers both of your legs in a kind of sleeve and gets secured around your waist.
Once your tail is on, you hop in to a pool and learn to swim like a mermaid. Fair warning, swimming like a mermaid is really different than traditional swimming. Natural swimming usually involves kicking both your legs separately to propel you through the water. The mermaid tail forces participants to use their legs totally differently. They have to move their legs up and down in the same movement to propel them forward.
This different method of swimming provides a totally different workout than normal swimming. Your legs will get a completely different kind of workout, and you’ll need to rely heavily on core stability to move your legs in the right way.
If you’re cool with having a literal mermaid tail, this class can provide a truly unique workout.
9 Hula Hooping
Remember hula hooping when you were a kid? That’s an actual fitness class nowadays. Of course, it’s not as simple as keeping the hoop moving for as long as possible and letting it drop like you did when you were a kid. Hula hooping for fitness, or hooping, requires an incredible amount of core strength, stability, and endurance.
The first step of learning hooping is learning how to move your body in order to keep the momentum in the hoop. Though most of us are familiar with keeping a hula hoop moving on our hips, hooping classes often use multiple parts of the body and sometimes even multiple hoops. Someone who’s skilled at hooping can keep a hoop going on each arm, which requires builds upper body strength. Hula hooping with your legs builds lower body strength and balance. Hooping with your core involves isometric movements than strengthen your core, your back, and your hips.
Hooping may seem like child’s play, but keeping it up for an hour long class is a legit workout.
8 Cycle Karaoke
Ever since spinning was introduced years ago it’s been a super popular fitness craze. Combining pumping, high energy music to stationary biking made it much more enjoyable than just sitting there and rotating your legs. Traditional spin classes sync up the workout with the music, with intensity increasing as the beat drops.
Some spinning studios are introducing new classes that incorporate music in different ways. At Karaoke Cycle, you’re not just listening to the music, you’re creating the music. The soundtrack for the workout plays over the speakers while the lyrics are projected on a screen in front of the class. An instructor walks around the class with a wireless microphone and encourages participants to sing while they’re cycling.
Not every song is a karaoke song, just the ones that are lower intensity. Singing while cycling helps participants learn breath control, which will help optimize their oxygen flow and improve their performance.
7 Fit to Fly
If you’re an adrenaline junkie who can’t stand boring workouts, Fit to Fly is definitely for you. The workout was developed by Reebok in collaboration with the acrobats who perform in Cirque de Soleil. Yes, this workout is heavily inspired by the circus. Fit to Fly workouts are pretty much exclusively offered in specially equipped Reebok gyms. The gyms are equipped with multiple apparatuses that are essentially trapezes.
During the classes, participants are run through a series of high intensity exercises, some but not all of which, include the trapeze like apparatuses. Participants swing around, soar from one trapeze to the next, and do all sorts of insane flips with the support of the Fit to Fly equipment.
Using the trapezes requires a lot of core stability in order to control your body as it soars through the air. They also require a lot of upper body strength so you don’t end up on the floor, though Fit to Fly classes do involve some traditional strength training moves performed on the floor.
If you haven’t been on a trampoline in years, you’ve probably forgotten how intense it is to jump for more than five minutes at a time. Jumping on a trampoline actually does a lot to strengthen your leg muscles and depending on the moves you perform, it can actually strengthen other muscles as well. In fact, trampolining recently became an official Olympic sport. Athletes perform all sorts of crazy acrobatics using the trampoline to get air.
You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to get a serious workout on a trampoline. There are trampoline workouts designed for trampolines of all sizes, even trampolines that fit in your living room. During trampoline workouts, you move your body in specific ways while jumping to utilize different muscle groups. For example, you can jump and bring your knees in to your chest while you’re in the air, which is like doing an airborne crunch to work your core.
5 Laughter Yoga
We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine. Well, apparently laughing is also a stellar workout. Anyone who’s spent minutes belly laughing over a friend’s joke or a funny video knows exactly how much laughing involves your core muscles. Laughter is also really good for mental health, which is actually an important part of exercise. Activities that facilitate physical and mental well-being are the best kind of exercise.
This is the idea behind Laughter Yoga. Most of us don’t think of laughter when we think of yoga classes. Yoga is known for being pretty quiet, with the exception of the teacher’s voice and perhaps some soothing music playing in the background. Laughing during yoga class almost seems inappropriate, but not in a Laughter Yoga class.
Participants are encouraged to find the joy in their yoga poses by heartily laughing while they hold the poses. The laughter not only helps them engage their core muscles while in each pose, it helps them engage more muscles to maintain stability. It also makes yoga class way more fun.
4 Kangoo Jumps
Another weird workout that leverages jumping is Kangoo. And yes, that’s supposed to sound like “kangaroo” because the workout simulates jumping like a kangaroo. I’m not kidding. This is a real thing.
The workout requires special shoes called Kangoo Jumps. The shoes have a kind of spring on the bottom of them that makes it easier to jump, but that also creates instability. Workout classes based on the shoe design focus on jumping around the room and performing traditional strength training movements while jumping.
The shoes can be worn during all kinds of athletic activities and they add an extra spring to your step (punny, huh?). The instability created by the shoes forces the user to engage more muscles to create stability. The extra cushion provided by the spring reduces the impact on the joints, so it makes walking and running easier on the joints.
You’ll be the weirdest one in your group fitness class wearing your Kangoo Jumps, but apparently, they increase calorie burn for traditional activities, so there’s that.
A lot of people who study the body and the way it moves insist that the best workouts emphasize fundamental body movements. Fundamental body movements are the way our body is constructed to move, but the majority of adults have gotten away from the way our bodies are supposed to move. When we move in ways our bodies are designed to use, and when we sit all the time, we actually train our bodies to have bad habits. These bad habits progress in muscle deficiencies and then other muscles have to compensate. For example, many people have lower back issues because they have underdeveloped core muscles.
Physical therapists and trainers who focus on fundamental movements suggest that returning to the way our bodies are designed to move is the way to correct our bodies’ bad habits. One of the most fundamental movements out there is crawling, yes like when you were a baby. Crawling develops core muscles and stability, upper body strength, and increases hip mobility.
Fitness gurus actually agree that crawling around your house on your hands and knees, or on your hands and toes, is a real, super beneficial workout.
Many of the fitness classes that become serious trends are a combination of multiple types of exercise. The new fitness trend leverages the benefits of multiple different exercises to create a brand new and super fun activity. That’s just what happened with Boxerina, which combines boxing and ballet.
The combination of boxing and ballet seems really strange. One is focused on grace, while the other is focused on aggression. But anyone who’s ever trained in boxing can tell you that boxing is often described as a dance. The footwork required to facilitate those devastating punches require a lot of grace and agility. The best boxers flow through their punches in a way that functions very much like ballet. So really, boxing and ballet aren’t all that different.
Boxerina classes alternate between boxing circuits, which include hitting things at a frenetic pace and intense strength circuits that get your heart pumping, and ballet routines, which focus on flexibility and agility. By combining cardio, flexibility, agility, and strength, Boxerina provides a total body workout.
1 Skateboarding Pilates
Another new hybrid fitness class combines the basics of skateboarding with the basics of Reformer Pilates. Many Pilates classes focus on doing the movements without the assistance of a Reformer, a special machine that was built specifically for doing Pilates. Reformers are super expensive and most of us can’t afford to have one at home. The only time we do get to use one is if we go to classes at gyms that have Reformers.
Lucky for us, someone figured out that a lot of the movements you perform on a Reformer can be modified and performed using a Skateboard, and Skateboard Pilates was born. This workout uses the movement of the skateboard to provide additional intensity while doing traditional Pilates movements. Lunges can be done by putting one foot on the skateboard and moving the skateboard forward until your back knee touches the ground. You can lie on your back, put both feet on the skateboard, do a bridge, and then slowly move the skateboard away with your feet. There are tons of traditional Pilates exercises that can be slightly modified to include the skateboard.
The movement creates additional instability in the movements, which means that you have to use more muscles and more strength to create stability. Be warned, Skateboard Pilates is not easy, but it’s definitely an awesome strength building workout.
If you absolutely hate going to the gym, then finding a fun activity to substitute for traditional exercise is essential. Though some of these fitness trends are pretty weird, they definitely provide a new and different way to get in shape.
Sources: Yoga Journal, Yoga Force, Zumba, Surfset, Aqua Mermaid, Health Magazine, Time Out Magazine, Glamour, Olympics.com, She Knows, Laughter Yoga, Kangoo Jumps, CNN, Women’s Health Mag, Livestrong