7 Fun Exercises Your Trainer Doesn't Want You to Know About
Try Ultimate Frisbee (572 calories)
In high school or college, did you view running as a necessary evil and a way to warm up for a more exciting team sport? Then seek out Ultimate Frisbee pickup games in your area (more info at USAUltimate.org). This self-officiated sport is similar to rugby played with a Frisbee instead of a ball, and tends to draw laid-back, social types who prioritize friendly competition over personal records. Leagues are usually welcoming to newcomers, but coordination is key, so you might want to play a few games with your dog—or your kids—first.
Calorie counts are based on a 150-pound woman working out for 60 minutes, using data from Exercise Testing and Prescription by David C. Nieman.
Try Hula Hooping (420–600 calories)
Chances are that you weren't thinking about improving your muscle tone when you shimmied in your parents' backyard, but a recent study by the American Council on Exercise found that intermediate-level hula hooping can burn as many calories per minute as step aerobics, boot camp (atten-shun!) or brisk walking. The humble hoop can tone the abs, back, arms and legs as well as improve balance and flexibility. As with any exercise, you only burn significant calories if you can sustain the activity, so to get maximum fitness benefits, upgrade to a grown-up hoop from Hoopnotica. At 1.5 pounds, it's slightly heavier than the child's toy, and weighted hoops are easier to keep aloft. Hoopnotica also sells DVDs that can teach you some basic moves to keep you busy (the "one-handed halo" makes us feel like a hooping Hindu goddess).
Try Salsa Dancing (393 calories)
The elliptical trainer smoothly mimics running without impact, which makes it appropriate for injured athletes. The salsa smoothly mimics the hip-gyrating movements of...well, you know, which makes it appealing to couples as well as those looking to partner up. Dance studios, rec centers, universities and gyms offer beginner salsa classes that draw students of all ages. This smoldering Latin dance helps tone the lower body and can also pump up your calves, especially if you wear a pair of good dance shoes. The best part is that a salsa session at a club or dance hall rarely ends after 60 minutes, so you can double or even triple your calorie-burning (and partner-impressing) potential.
Try Rowing (250–600 calories)
Water is 775 times denser that air, so moving against water pressure while swimming strengthens and tones muscles from your fingers to your toes. But unless you're doing laps above your local coral reef, swimming rarely offers much in the way of visual stimulation. Not everyone lives near a lake, river or reservoir, but for those who do, rowing is a much more scenic way to work your quads, glutes, shoulders, abs and biceps on the water. Sculling with a friend or a team also dispels some of the loneliness of the long-distance swimmer. Many groups practice on the still, calm waters of the early morning, sometimes setting out before dawn, so there may be a local boathouse or club that you've just never noticed before. Check USRowing.org to find a club near you.
Try Hiking with a Backpack (500 calories)
Working out with weights increases muscle mass and boosts metabolism, helping burn calories throughout the day. Weight-bearing exercises like squats and lunges can also increase bone density, helping forestall conditions like osteoporosis. Hiking with a pack (and a pair of poles) does all that and provides an intense cardio workout. And have we mentioned the views? There's no contest: On weekends, grab your pack (even if it's filled with hardcover Jane Austen novels) and head for the hills.
Try Ice Skating (500 calories)
Many people love walking—which is wonderful, because it's one of the easiest fitness activities to squeeze into a busy day. But others, including a marathon runner we know as well as a former college basketball player, find walking to be stultifying. Those who can't stand to stroll might consider lacing up a pair of skates. Through the mostly nonimpact activity of ice skating, they'll burn almost twice as many calories, and figuring out how to execute a salchow will keep them focused.
Try Cross-Country Skiing (500–643 calories)
Riding the stationary bike will get you nowhere—except for to the last page of a celebrity tabloid magazine. But cross-country skiing will take you over hills and dales through a winter wonderland. It's not only one of the most pleasurable ways to enjoy the outdoors but also an intense cardio workout that strengthens the entire lower body as well as the shoulders, chest and the bedeviling, hard-to-tone triceps. If you're stuck inside or live in a place where snow is a rarity, hop on the Nordic ski machine (500 calories) to practice for your next trip north. The machine isn't quite as exciting as an outdoor tour, but at least it provides a break from the bike.