Take the WORK out of your workout

Consider these fun fitness options that will still deliver benefits.
Published November 9, 2015

Remember those carefree summer days of childhood, when you played Freeze Tag, rode bikes and ran around for hours at a time, never realizing what you were doing was actually “exercise.” Logging 30 minutes on the elliptical machine isn’t quite the same, is it? These grown-up activities will put the fun back in fitness and make you feel like a kid again:


Jump for joy

For at least a few generations kids have spent hours bouncing on backyard trampolines free of adult-like fears of breaking an ankle. Now trampoline parks, like Sky High Sports and Jumpstreet are opening in cities across the country, offering kids and adults alike the exhilaration of literally bouncing off the walls. Trampoline fitness classes, which combine calisthenics, core exercises, and strength training, offer a full-body workout with added challenge of a bouncy surface and the benefit of a reduced impact on adult-worn joints.

“There’s something for everyone and it’s a different class every time,” says Valeria Ceja, a personal trainer and SkyRobics instructor at Sky Zone San Diego, who incorporates pushups, squats, medicine balls, and fitness bands in her calorie-burning 60-minute classes. The childlike bonus: “A lot of people have the most fun when they’re falling down!”


Fly through the air 

Your parents may have discouraged your childhood dream of joining the circus, but you can have the last laugh when you learn the skills of the flying trapeze at places like Trapeze School New York, which has locations in Washington, D.C., Boston, Los Angeles and San Juan, Puerto Rico, The Flying Trapeze School in Miami, and Trapeze High in San Diego. In addition to the mood-lifting benefits of embracing your inner circus star, aerial workouts help build upper body and core strength, as well as flexibility and coordination.

RELATED: How Much Exercise Can Improve Your Mood?


Play in the mud

Muddy race events, like the Tough Mudder, are popular in cities across the country. Combining military-style challenges with mud pits, and teamwork with tough obstacle courses, events that were once for hardcore athletes alone are now appealing to weekend warriors and mainstream moms alike. Courses include challenges from running and biking to climbing walls and traversing monkey bars, all of which requires stamina, strength, skill and an adventurous spirit.

“There is something about jumping into a mud pit, looking over at your friend and realizing that you’re both covered in mud and have a whole course of obstacles ahead of you that puts a huge smile on your face,” says Cristina DeVito, the former chief executive officer of Mudderella. 


Color yourself happy

If you think back fondly on the art of finger painting and the rainbow of hues all over your hands, you’ll love nationwide 5K events like Color Me RadThe Color Run, and The Graffiti Run, non-timed races in which participants dressed in all white are doused with bright-colored powders at each kilometer. While having fun is the number-one priority of these colorful events, entrants still reap the fitness benefits of running, jogging or walking the 3.1-mile course.

RELATED: Ready, set...Run


Do the hula

Hoop, that is, with weighted versions of the childhood classic, and workout moves that burn and tone, courtesy of Hoopnotica, an international fitness and dance craze that aims to “reintroduce the element of play into physical fitness.” With instructors all over the country teaching 60-minute, low-impact, multi-level classes that start with basic waist hooping and evolve into off-body exercises and advanced choreography, Hoopnotica burns up to 600 calories per hour, builds core strength and improves posture and coordination. 

Hula hooping also boosts the mood and increases self-esteem, explains Jen Moore, a Hoopnotica master instructor in upstate New York who lost 150 pounds through a combination of Weight Watchers and waist hooping. “Hooping has been incredibly transformative,” she says, noting the increased self-confidence and sense of accomplishment she gained from Hoopnotica. “The first two weeks, I spent 15 minutes a day dropping the hoop and picking it back up, but I didn’t give up and at the end of the month I made it through one whole song. Really, everyone can do it.” Plus, she adds, “It’s impossible to be cranky when you’re hula hooping!”