4 Fun Fitness Classes That Don't Even Feel Like Exercise (Really!)
1. Instead of: Climbing pixelated "hills" on the elliptical
Try: Immersive fitness classes
Picture a gym. Now picture a gym with a cinema-scale video screen that transports you and fellow exercisers into a fitness fantasyland. During a cycling class called The Trip (offered at health clubs in Santa Monica, Chicago, and New York City, with more locations coming this year; find a class near you at lesmills.com), you'll ride through Blade Runner–esque cityscapes and along futuristic interstellar racetracks. Or give your senses a workout: During yoga sessions at Woom Center in New York City, video images of sky, water, trees, and geometric patterns pulse on the wall, and sounds from gongs, Himalayan singing bowls, bells, and chimes vibrate the floorboards. Want to stick closer to home? Launch the app Virtual Runner (outsideinteractive.com) on a tablet in front of your treadmill, and you can do your daily jog through the Australian outback or Manhattan's Central Park.
2. Instead of: Drippy old water aerobics
Try: Aqua cycling
Submerge a bunch of water-resistant stationary bikes in a pool and you've got an entertaining—and challenging—workout. "Your muscles have to work harder to move through water, so you burn more calories," says Tony Maloney, a certified exercise physiologist in Indianapolis. Yet time sprints by, and you never feel like you're sweating. Take the plunge at Aquastudio in New York City; SplashCycle in Washington, D.C.; or Aqua Cycling in Lawndale, California.
3. Instead of: Super-serious yoga sessions
Try: Flowing to music
Set to a catchy beat, dance-yoga hybrid classes let you stretch and shake your hips. You can bend, breathe, and shimmy at Afro Flow Yoga (classes in Boston, Connecticut, and New York; afroflowyoga.com), which combines African diaspora dances with traditional yogic practices. Buti Yoga mixes tribal dance with yoga to leave you breathless, loose-limbed, and feeling pretty darn sexy (search for classes, download a video program for $30, or subscribe to streaming online workouts at butiyoga.com). And the power vinyasa dance class Let Your Yoga Dance focuses on different chakras to the soundtrack of global music, chants, and drumming (visit letyouryogadance.com to look up instructors). Finding your rhythm may take a few awkward minutes, but you'll soon get into the groove. Don't be surprised if by the end of the routine you're feeling not only sweatier, but also sassier and supremely empowered.
4. Instead of: Strolling in circles
Try: Mindful walking
You can walk around your block only so many times before you start to imagine you're a sitcom character saying the same thing to the same neighbors every time. (Them: "Here she is, on her walk!" You: "Hi! Yep, it's me, walking!") Broaden your horizons to find your Zen while still clocking several thousand steps. Try walking meditations with apps like Calm or Headspace, and let yourself be gently guided to focus on the rhythm of your footfalls, the scent of fresh air (maybe tinged with snow), and the chirping of birds—or silence. You'll meet your movement goals and return home feeling more present, more at peace.