Non-traditional workouts are quickly gaining popularity, as clunky machinery is becoming a thing of the past. Nothing’s more demeaning than begging the sluggish seconds on the treadmill clock to pick up the pace, to meet your heart rate for gosh’s sake, as they tick by in their mocking manner. So many of us spend our days dreading the nightly sweat, or we even choose to forgo such painful monotony in a painstaking act of defiance. Luckily, there are plenty of creative ways to ditch the treadmill while still hitting your move goal, be it in the gym, pool, or great outdoors.
1. Make the traditional non-traditional.
That’s right. Circuits.
Starting a new exercise routine can be intimidating, especially if you’re floundering with unfamiliar equipment. Ease into the world of creative workouts by sticking to your usual machines, but using them differently. Instead of embarking on a 45-minute moderate jog, cycle with 5 minutes of sprinting, 5 minutes of walking on an incline, and 5 minutes at a comfortable pace. Even better–switch machines every 15 minutes, hopping on the elliptical for ten minutes between each treadmill cycle. Work your glute and leg strength by walking sideways (at a slow place) on an incline, switching sides every 3 minutes to maximize the burn. Add a resistance band around your legs if you’re feeling really fancy.
2. Go to the barre.
Build strength and gain flexibility with a barre class. Growing rapidly in its popularity, barre fitness is perfect for people looking for a high-intensity, low-impact group workout. Participants focus on muscle development and core strength, while using bodyweight resistance to tighten and tone. With most studios offering multiple classes of differing levels, everyone can find a class to cater to his or her specific needs. Best of all? You’ll work up a sweat and sculpt your body without your heart rate in your ears (unless you choose one of the cardio-centric classes, which we’re all for), while learning the importance of deliberate, concentrated movements.
3. Stadiums aren’t just for sittin’.
Want something intense but hate the pixelated mockery of the stair climber’s clock? Head to the field. With stairs being one of the most effective cardiovascular and strength-building exercises, you can’t go wrong with hitting your local college or high school’s football stadium. Between each row, run up and down each step, hitting a comfortable jog (or walk) between staircases. Fun fact: Science tells us that going down the stairs is the movement that will make you most sore in the morning. Who knew preventing your body from tumbling to the Earth at the speed of gravity could be your biggest agent in burning cals?
4. Hit the trails.
Make a day out of your weekend workout by packing up the family and heading for the hills. Studies show that walking on an incline is one of the most effective fat-burning exercises you can do. Throw on a backpack stocked with waters and snacks, and take a moment to enjoy the great outdoors. For older and more advanced walkers, choose harder trails that challenge you to climb and push your limits. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.
5. Take a dip, but don’t you dare stare at that tiled line.
For some, hitting the pool may be a novel exercise in itself, but if you’re an avid swimmer (or just feel better chilling in the shallow), staring at a black line for laps on laps can get pretty mundane. Step on deck with a plan, and reintroduce the circuit technique with your water workouts. Cycle through one minute of vertical kicking, a fast freestyle lap, and a split lap in which you “run” in the shallow, then swim to the wall. Better yet, grab a buddy and vertical kick while throwing a med ball, or cycle through speeds while using the kick board. Learn all the strokes to broaden your horizons and keep things interesting, or simply use the water as added resistance to a “land” workout. The water is your oyster, and equally your home.