Ways to get healthier and fitter through exercise, sport and activity
Not everyone likes going to the gym to get fit – we understand that. Truth is, there are hundreds of ways to get healthier and fitter through exercise, sport and activity. Here are 9 new ways to get fit in 2015 – no gym required!
Many roads lead to Rome. And to health and fitness, too! Whether you want to lose weight, shed body fat or get fitter, there are countless ways of doing it. “What’s the best form of exercise for me?” There’s no right or wrong answer. The best exercise is one you love, so you’ll stick at it and make activity an every day part of life.
1) Team sports
If you loved team sports at school, why not revisit your favourite as an adult? There’s nothing to stop you doing football, rugby, netball, hockey or cricket as a grown-up (although we admit you might struggle to find a local “Rounders” team!) You could even try a sport you didn’t get to try as a kid: touch rugby or water polo, anyone? Search online for your town name and the sport you’re interested in, or try Spogo, the Sport England website for finding sports clubs, trial sessions and activities. The NGB (National Governing Body) of the sport is a great resource, too.
2) Solo sports
Not a team player? No problem (we quite understand… !) If you’re more lone wolf than pack animal, there are plenty of ways to get fit other than the gym. And it’s never too late to start. How about gymnastics, martial arts, masters swimming, or endurance sport? Again, try the NGB of the sport to find a local club, or search online for local clubs, sessions, open days and events.
3) Running club
Every year, people resolve to take up running and we can see why: it’s got to be one of the cheapest and easiest activities to access. All you need is a pair of running shoes (and ladies need a sports bra) – although decent biomechanics and a good running technique will help you stick with it beyond the first few weeks. One of the best ways to take up running, or get back into it after time out, is to join your local running club. They’ll have access to coaches and offer sessions like group long runs and coached track sessions, although you could simply use the social and motivational aspects of being part of a club. Ask at your local running shop or try UK Athletics for a list of local groups.
4) OCR (obstacle course races)
Wild and wacky off-road races are growing in popularity and make a great goal for a New Year’s fitness pledge. Challenging enough to push you to new levels of fitness, exciting enough to keep you motivated, and social enough that you can probably persuade a group of mates to do it with you! There really are so many off-road, obstacle type races that it’s impossible to list them all. Find one near you, or make a weekend of it and use one as a novel way to explore a new part of the country!
Find OCR events here:
Look, we don’t buy into the rivalry between CrossFitters and bodybuilders. Sure, it makes for some fun Facebook memes. But we support anyone wanting to get fitter, faster, stronger and more powerful. If you like the sound of challenging, athletic workouts based around plyometric movements, body weight and barbell movements for reps, CrossFit might be for you. It’s a solo activity but performed in the close knit supportive environment of a CrossFit club (called a Box). There are over 500 CrossFit boxes in the UK, so find a few local ones and go along for a look (or join in on a trial session) to ensure you’re happy with the group dynamic, coaching expertise and set up. map.crossfit.com is the place to find your nearest session.
Find your local Crossfit box or events here:
6) Endurance sport
Triathlon is still one of the fastest growing sports in the UK. If your idea of a challenge is distance and “time on your feet”, then perhaps triathlon, or one of its component sports (long-distance running or cycling) is the activity for you. As a runner, you can take part in half marathon and marathons (building up to ultra marathons if you want!) As a cyclist, you can do time trials, century rides or sportives. If you want to add swimming into the mix, the strength of the UK triathlon scene means you have a vast range of races open to you, from super-sprint distance right up to long-distance/Ironman distance triathlons.
7) Boot camps
Not everyone wants to be “sporty”, and that’s cool. If you’re looking for a regular fitness group but don’t like the gym and prefer to exercise outdoors, why not seek out your town’s best bootcamp class? Usually run by freelance Personal Trainers, bootcamp classes are outdoor group exercise sessions built around a circuit-style set of bodyweight exercises, cardiovascular work, and resistance training. Fun, challenging and usually a little muddy, they’re ideal if you like hard work and a sense of accomplishment – you against the elements!
8) Home workouts
Not everyone has the time to get out to gym classes, sports clubs or even a weekly meet up with a workout buddy. Luckily, these days that doesn’t mean you need to let your fitness dreams slide! There’s plenty that can be done at home, even if you’ve got young kids, a houseful of teenagers, or you run your own business from home. How about one of the popular at-home training systems, like Insanity or P90X? Or invest in a small amount of portable home exercise kit which can be stored out of the way (a suspension trainer like TRX or Z-Trainer, an ab roller, a medicine ball and a set of bands)? If you have space for an exercise bike, or a turbo trainer for that old road bike in the shed, you can use apps or websites to do virtual races and online challenges with other riders.
9) Workout classes
One of the best ways to combine the social and healthy aspects of a new workout routine is to go to exercise classes. Your local gym is sure to offer at least one, so head down there and pick up a timetable. Most gyms these days will have Spinning, some form of yoga, a bodyweight or light resistance training class, and one or more of the Les Mills classes (Body Pump, Body Combat, Body Balance, Body Attack) on the menu. Try one or more, or buy a month’s pass and pledge to try a couple a week until you find a favourite.
Find your nearest clubs & classes:
As for you gym-lovers, we haven’t forgotten you! We know you’re happy with your body part splits and wouldn’t give up your regular dates with the iron. But to those of you who are looking for something different: try something from this list. Whatever you end up doing in 2015, be happy, healthy and excited about activity!
About the Author:
Nicola Joyce has been writing for (and about) sport, fitness, nutrition and healthy living since 2004. She’s also a keen sportswoman: her background is in endurance sport but she now competes as a natural bodybuilder, most recently winning a world title with the INBF. When she’s not writing content, she can be found blogging at thefitwriter.wordpress.com. Follow her on Facebook & Twitter (@thefitwriter) too.