Fitness & Exercise

7 Super-Fun Fitness Swaps

Stuck in an exercise rut? These crosstraining swaps have everything you love about your current workout, minus the boredom.
Published February 22, 2016

Like a postal carrier, you strap on your sneakers rain or shine, come snow or scorching temps. But lately, your exercise regimen has left you wanting. You’ve mastered every move, every route, every challenge in your routine, and quite frankly the thrill is gone. On top of that, you’ve reached a fitness plateau and suspect it might be time to adjust your workout.

It’s time to try something new. These fitness swaps keep everything you love about your current activity, but ditch the boredom that comes with mastering it. Whether you exercise inside or outdoors, in groups or solo, we’ve got you covered.


If you like: Walking briskly…

Try hiking. Have urban (or suburban) power strolls lost their luster? Hiking in a scenic park can put a fresh spring in your step. Incline changes and rough, uneven terrain make for a harder, more aerobic workout. “You get more out of less time,” says professional athlete and fitness trainer Andia Winslow. Besides pushing your legs and glutes, hiking works your arms, abs and lower back muscles, says Winslow. Finding a trail is easy as typing “hiking trails near [your town]” into Google Maps. If you’re new to the woods, pick a short, easy trail (two hours round-trip, tops) and avoid inclement weather. Go with a buddy, and make sure you bring water, snacks, and extra layers of clothing.

RELATED: Know Before You Go: Trail Hiking


If you like: Zumba…

Try kickboxing. Looking to blow off extra steam? These martial arts classes could provide the kick you’ve been missing. Like Zumba and other aerobic dance classes, kickboxing is high-energy, social and usually set to music. But, Winslow says, because of all the kicks and punches in the routines, “it’s more aggressive.” It also demands more speed, agility, and balance than the typical Zumba class. “Many combinations are performed on one leg or involve moving opposing limbs simultaneously,” Winslow says. The result? More muscles engaged at once and a better core workout. For this reason, stretching before each class is essential.

RELATED: What to Know Before You Go to Your First Kickboxing Class


If you like: Spinning…

Try rowing. Love the cardio workout, but tired of pedaling? Rowing classes are available at dozens of U.S. gyms that offer a new twist on the group workout: You use your own machine, but you row in synchronized teams. Like indoor cycling, rowing classes feature high-intensity intervals, including a five-minute race at the end of each class. “In a 45-minute rowing class, you easily burn as many calories — if not more — as you do in a cycling class,” says Jay Blahnik, a celebrity fitness instructor. And contrary to what you might think, indoor rowing doesn’t just work your arms, core and upper body. With rowing, Blahnik says, your legs do 60 percent of the work.

RELATED: Ready, Set...Row


If you like: Road biking…

Try mountain biking. Like hiking, mountain biking is marked by inclines. As a result, “you’re doing more intervals: pedal hard, coast down, pedal hard, coast down,” says personal trainer Alisa Geller. Because of the balance required to maneuver over uneven, rocky terrain, your core gets more of a workout than when you're road biking, Geller adds. If you’re new to the sport, rent a mountain bike before purchasing your own. Start with shorter, less technical trails, and go with an experienced pal. Because falling is par for the course, especially for rookies, a helmet is a must, Geller says. So are food, water, first-aid supplies, and extra layers of clothing.

RELATED: Know Before You Go: Beach Biking


If you like: Yoga…

Try circus arts. Sun salutations no longer raising your spirit? An aerial or circus arts class could offer the lift you’ve been craving. Schools throughout the world teach rookies the finer points of acrobatics, tightrope walking, flying trapeze, and suspending midair from various types of rope. “It’s truly hard to get bored,” says Erica Rubinstein, an instructor at The School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts in Seattle. Like yoga, the circus arts require balance, core strength, laser-like focus, and patience. If you’re not used to lifting your own body weight, expect your arms, shoulders, and upper torso to feel sore initially. For this reason, Rubinstein says, stretching, staying hydrated, and easing into any aerial tricks is a must.


If you like: Weight training…

Try kettlebells. The beauty of these handled, round weights is their efficiency. Kettlebells offer more cardio than traditional weights — in less time. “A typical workout may last only 20 minutes,” Winslow says. Because kettlebells are tougher to control, with workouts involving extreme ranges of motion, kettlebell training engages more muscles at once. Winslow recommends getting your doctor’s blessing first and learning how to use these weights in a class or from a personal trainer.

RELATED:  Your Go-To Kettlebell Workout


If you like: Running…

Try a triathlon. Sprint triathlons feature the shortest distances — typically a half-mile swim, 12- to 17-mile bike ride and 5K run — though some beginner races have shorter courses. Training for the race at least three months in advance is a must, Geller says. Hiring a personal trainer or taking a triathlon class is wise. So is talking to past competitors. Besides boosting your swim, bike, and run times, you need to master the transitions, outfit yourself with the right gear, and learn what to eat before the race. To stay motivated, find a buddy to train with and share your goal with friends and family.“ That makes it real,” Geller says.

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