The gym is boring. There, we said it. Stationary bikes don’t take us anywhere and dumbells are, well, dumb. But you’ve got to get fit somehow…and it would be nice if you could actually enjoy, maybe even get a rush from, your sweat sessions occasionally.
It’s time to think outside the gym. Here are five ways to turn your typical workouts into outdoor adventures.
Spinning > Cycling
Spinning is a great way to get fit. It’s an intense cardiovascular workout, it’s low impact on your joints and it’s peer-powered, with fellow spinners on your left and right guilting you into pushing the numbers on your odometer just a little higher than you thought you could. But therein lies the problem. Spinning is all about staring at numbers, and that’s boring. It’s time to take your bike outside and get those wheels rolling for real.
Don’t have a bicycle? No problem. Look online for something used and cheap or drop by your nearest bike dealership and tell them how you want to ride. Then pick a destination and pedal off. You may find that riding the streets isn’t as immediately intense as spinning, but if you amp up the speed, find some massive hills or hit some wilderness terrain you’ll definitely get some adventure and a whole lot of sweat out of it.
Weight Lifting > Climbing
Weight lifting is problematic for a number of reasons. It’s confusing — how much weight should you lift and which muscle groups should you focus on? It can be too “localized,” focusing only on a particular group of muscles. And it is dangerous; according to the New York Times, between 1990 to 2007, nearly 1 million Americans ended up in emergency rooms due to weight lifting injuries. Use your muscles in a smarter and more adventurous way: to go up.
Climbing, on either a real rock wall or a man-made climbing wall, is one of the best full-body exercises you can do — it’s an activity that will get you definitively get you fit faster than other means of fitness. But don’t expect it to be effortless. Using tiny finger grips to pull your body towards the sky is a challenge…but one that is whole lot more enjoyable than lifting weights.
Lunges & Squats > Ice Skating or Rollerblading
Some people think lower body exercises are unnecessary; we do spend much of our waking hours fighting gravity with our legs, after all. But more and more people in today’s society are leading sedentary lifestyles. Unless you are at a standing desk, you are probably reading this sitting down. YOU NEED TO MOVE YOUR LEGS. And the harder you push, the more healthy your lower half will be.
Avoid the monotony of lunges and squats by skating. Lace up at the ice rink or invest in a pair of rollerblades to power around your neighborhood. Don’t stop ’til you feel the burn.
Jogging > Paintball
Man is bio-mechanically built to run long distance. We can beat pretty much every animal out there in a marathon, including cheetahs and gazelles. Some anthropologists believe we are so adept at long distance because our ancient ancestors used to wound and then chase down prey across the African plains.
Today, we can exploit that primordial stamina, and we can do it by “hunting” humans. Nothing gets you moving and keeps you moving like a moving target. According to Livestrong, with paintball, you can burn 461 calories per hour. That makes paintball a better workout than jogging, volleyball and jazzercise, but not quite as vigorous as Jai alai.
Pool Swimming > Open Water Swimming
Swimming might be the best exercise on earth. Why? For two reasons: 1) Pushing your body through water puts almost zero impact on sensitive bones, joints and tissues and 2) swimming is so. incredibly. hard. Humans are simply not made for the water. Walk briskly and you’ll beat even the fastest swimmers in the world to the finish line. To reach 4.4 mph in a pool, these athletes must use almost every muscle in their bodies. Their physiques show it, and yours will too if you regularly hit the water.
For an adventurous and challenging workout, take your swim from the lap pool to the open water. Pick a landmark, dive in, and get there. Just make sure you’ve got enough gas in the tank to get back.