2017 well on its way! So, how are your resolutions going? If one of them is to exercise more this year, you may already be losing some of the mojo you had on January 1st. But here’s a best-kept secret about exercise: if you enjoy doing it, it won’t feel like a chore. So, maybe it’s time to admit to yourself that you really don’t like going to the gym, or that you find running mind-numbingly boring, or that swimming lengths makes you feel claustrophobic. If this rings true for you, why not try something different? We’ve rounded up five new types of exercise you can try that may well keep you active and motivated in the year to come:
- Martial arts: You don’t have to be a Bruce Lee wannabe to get value out of martial arts. Disciplines like judo, karate and kung fu are as much about getting a cardio workout as they are about quieting and focusing the mind – so it’s both a mental and physical workout. You can also learn useful life skills at the same time. In a karate class, for example, you’ll learn how to punch and block which is a great self-defence technique, and you’ll learn mind techniques like how to calm your mind and be more assertive.
- Nia: Meaning “with purpose” in Swahili, Nia blends dancing, martial arts and integrative body therapies into a single practice. It balances technical precision with free-form expression, so while it’s a type of dancing where you copy movement from your teacher, there’s not a lot of formal choreography. Overall, the group class brings together the body, mind, emotions and spirit though music, movement and self-expression – all guided by the sensation of pleasure.
- Zumba: This is a dance fitness programme that was started by a Colombian dancer and choreographer in the 1990s. A Zumba class involves choreographed dancing and aerobic movement to a wide variety of high-energy music including hip-hop, salsa and mambo. With this set up, a Zumba class combines cardio, muscle conditioning, balance and flexibility for a total workout in a fun group setting.
- Ballet barre: This kind of exercise involves using a waist-level bar to do various exercises. What makes a Ballet Barre class unique is that it uses smaller movements repeated multiple times; in this way, you target very specific muscles with less risk of tearing or damaging them. These movements are also combined with stretching exercises inspired by yoga or Pilates movements, which helps lengthen your muscles.
- SoulCycle: This is an indoor cycling class similar to spinning, but with hand weights and core work added. Classes are a short 45 minutes each and include fat-burning cardio work, a full body workout and choreography. A typical class involves a pedalling warm-up, followed by on-bike abdominal and endurance work, a session of upper-arm weights done while still pedalling, and then a cool down to finish.
With so much variety out there when it comes to staying active, doing exercise doesn’t have to feel boring or stale. Start by trying out a few different types of classes to see which one you’re drawn to, and then take it from there. By doing exercise you really like, you’ll stay fit and healthy without feeling like you have to force yourself to do it. And that will help make an even healthier, happier 2017.