There is one thing, for sure, that our entire nation can agree on: treadmills are boring. So are ellipticals. And stationary bikes. Actually, most of the ways we Americans get our exercise are boring. Which has led the adventuresome souls here at SmartyPants to cast our eyes (and Google searches) around the globe looking for ways to bust aerobic monotony. Here were a few examples of what we found.
Origin: Great Britain
Leave it to the home of Monty Python to come up with a seemingly absurd yet ultimately brilliant workout. Nothing will work your core, legs, and balance better than a unicycle. It’s a serious sport with many styles to choose from including touring, mountain, trials, freestyle, and even an ultimate model that is seatless (OUCH!). Start small and please keep the seat on for your safety.
Developed from military training, parkour makes obstacle courses out of the natural environment. Parkour enthusiasts interact with buildings and structures in a series of moves with truly fantastic names like the “tic tac”, “Kong vault”, and “gap jump”. It can be a dangerous sport when people overestimate their abilities
, but otherwise parkour is a fun means of testing strength, balance, and flexibility.
is a modern Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido is often translated as "the way of unifying (with) life energy" or as "the way of harmonious spirit". Ueshiba's goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. It does that - plus gives the practitioner mental agility, whole body movement, and balance.
Laughter yoga (Hasyayoga)
Practitioners call it the “happiest wellness program in the world” for a reason. Started in public parks in India during the 1990s, hasyayoga combines deep breathing with laughter exercises. Laughter yoga is proven good for cardiovascular health and as a means of fighting depression. The laughter probably covers up the sounds of the inevitable yoga farts, too.
We’ve all seen how svelte circus acrobats are, and that’s what has inspired people to take up outdoor trapeze. Flying through the air with the greatest of ease not only offers up an adrenaline rush, but also a great workout. It’s similar to gymnastics – good for the lats, abdominals, and shoulder muscles.
Coming from Rishikesh, India, this practice 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 – sometimes literally if you fall off your board.
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. Hooping is going to work your core, hips, glutes, and legs. Not too bad for a child’s toy originally developed by a company named Wham-O.
Origin: Only in America
You may recall Prancercise
from YouTube as it made its rounds on social media a while back, but it’s a legit workout. 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”. If you can control the giggles and ignore the stares, get your prance on!
You now have zero excuses to just run on the treadmill. Unless that’s your thing – you do you. Whatever you do, please consult a physician before you begin any exercise program and be sure to tag us on Instagram @SmartyHealth!