A different take on exercise….

Running, cycling, circuits, rowing and new fangled fast fitness routines with names like Insanity, Intensity and Ignominy (ok we made that last one up – but look up its real meaning – it might not be far off!). There are lots of ways to get fit. We could give you a rundown of the calories you’ll burn doing each, 1000 in half an hour, 500 in 30 minutes. Or we could tell you some more interesting sports that offer a little more – activities that are more fun and less foreboding. Here they are then, our top 5 interesting ways to exercise – to get you into tip-top shape this summer.

London’s parks are a great place to get out and exercise, so it’s not surprising that hundreds of thousands of Londoners take to them every year to tone up and get fit. Many are seen pounding round in lycra, striding out with their headphones in and Smartphones strapped to their arm. Some stay seated and pedal the cycleways, giving their cardiovascular system a good run, but their joints a less demanding workout. Then there are the flexible and spiritual set, practicing pilates and Tai Chi in the quieter corners. That’s all good. More power to them all for having the willpower to stick with it. But if you find maintaining the motivation to exercise regularly is about as easy as easy as pushing a pea up Highgate with your nose – then here are some alternatives.

Volleyball  (Beach or Grass)

Volleyball is a fun and social team sport that you don’t have to buy lots of expensive kit for. Luckily London’s parks have plenty of courts too. From the grass courts of  to the sand of . You’ll find Volleyball gives you a great workout (lots of stretching, quick direction changes, jumping) without being too exhausting. Beach volleyball comes with added perks of course. Lads will appreciate the latest Fosters advert, whilst we’re sure the ladies haven’t forgotten that scene from Top Gun. Yeah, that one. Oh, you’d like to see it again?

You’re probably taking your volleyball more seriously though, so here’s a handy resource for getting involved in Beach Volleyball in London

Rollerblading

London parks have plenty of asphalt pathways. They tend to be less potholed than other roads too. That makes them quite a good place to skate and scoot. Whatever wheels you chose, inline skates, to classic quads, a scooter, or cross-country roller skis – putting some form of wheels on your feet is a good way to exercise as it is less shocking to the joints than running. Skating tones your body as well as improving coordination and balance. The boffins reckon that rollerblading burns shed loads of calories too – almost as much as running – 162 calories per 15 minutes to be exact (actual values will vary depending on your weight and height).

On top of that you can plug yourself into your Walkman and learn some moves. If you’re really lucky you’ll meet some like minded people in colourful spandex. Cliff did… it’s just how he rolls…

Frisbee

Another terrific cardio workout – Frisbee involves a large amount of running, jumping, stretching and direction changes. Usually suitable for 2 players or more on a windy day you can even  play on your own (throw the frisbee up into the wind and it will come back to you). If you want a bit of competition, in an alternative to the ball and fairway variety ‘Disc Golf’ involves throwing a frisbee around an 18 ‘hole’  course strategically placed baskets. We wonder if they call them Airways?

Free running (at the gym)

First, let’s be clear, we’re not advocating going jumping from roof to roof in suburban London. Free running (or Parkour) involves gymnastic ability to traverse the obstacles of  the urban environment. But it’s becoming a popular session in leisure centres up and down the UK. Recreating the obstacles of our cityscape in vinyl covered foam crash mats creates a safe and secure environment to test athletic prowess and develop the gymnastic skills that could be used out and about.

Here’s one the UK’s finest – Damien Walters – showing his prowess in the art of leaping about and off of things.

If you’re interested in finding out more, parkouruk.org (the UK governing body) is the place to begin.

Feel like dancing?

Sometimes there’s a blurred line between sport, keeping fit and hobbies. It’s all about exercise. So here’s another way to burn some cals and tone up that crosses over with entertainment. Dancing’s another great to get toned and there are plenty of different styles, so you’re sure to find something to suit. If ballroom really isn’t your thing, how Break or Street Dancing, Bollywood, Salsa, or plain old disco ?

Being as we seem to have stumbled into an 80’s thang. How about this recent appearance by Kevin Bacon on the Tonight Show – reprising his famous dancing role from Footloose… class.

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