I'll give you mine: ho and hum.
It's not that it's a bad workout routine; it's just that it's gotten as predictable as the plotline of "Glee." Maybe that's one of the reasons I (and a lot of my fellow Americans) tend to give up on my exercise efforts. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that only 18.8 percent of us meet the physical activity guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity. Maybe we just need our routines jazzed up a little.
"People are used to thinking of exercise as something that has to fit into certain parameters: has to be in a gym, or you have to be wearing athletic clothing," says Maria Brilaki, founder of Fitnessreloaded.com, a fitness habits website. "All those rules burden exercise and limit creativity. They make working out so complicated!"
But working out doesn't have to be complicated or uncreative. It can actually be (dare we say it?) fun. To prove it, we've found these 10 new ways to take your workout routine from yawn to yay.
When you were a kid, you exercised constantly. Remember how walking somewhere seemed too slow, so you ran instead? Funny how things change. Swing Set Fitness, a book and DVD-based exercise program, gets you back to your childhood by way of the playground. Founder Karen Goeller came up with a series of exercise routines you can do using a simple swing set for total body conditioning. Here's one of our faves: push the swing to be about 45 degrees to the ground. Holding the swing steady with your hands, bring your feet together and do a set of inclined push-ups.
Bouncing up and down on a trampoline sounds like fun -- and it is! -- but it's also a champion calorie burner. Studies published in the Journal of Applied Psychology have shown that just 10 minutes of trampoline jumping can equal the health benefits of running for more than 30 minutes. But the founders of Springfree Trampoline, a trampoline producer in Issaquah, Wash., say that you can reap even bigger benefits if you incorporate trampoline-specific exercises, like the "starfish." Jump up into the air with your arms and legs splayed out. Or try the "seat drops" where you jump up, pull your legs parallel to the ground, then bounce back down onto your butt.
Get Into the Water
Standup paddleboarding is the "it" workout routine lately, with celebs like Rihanna and Jennifer Aniston getting on board. The sport is intense -- it burns 500 to 700 calories an hour, and requires serious use of your core, back, and arm muscles. And there are now stand-up paddleboarding workout routines that take it even further. According to Brody Welte, founder of Stand Up Fitness and Paddle Fit, performing typical body training moves -- think modified push-ups -- while on a floating board turns your everyday workout into a big challenge. You can even do yoga poses on the floating board.
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If you've ever wanted to take the elliptical machine out of the gym or have the stationary bike not be quite so, well, stationary, the new ElliptiGO bike is for you. Part elliptical trainer, part bicycle, this gadget mimics running outside -- except you travel 15 miles per hour and don't risk damage to your joints. And, unlike a stuck-in-place gym machine, you have to use your core muscles to stay standing. Plus, you get the mental and physical health benefits of outdoor exercise, such as increased energy and feeling more revitalized than if you were logging elliptical miles at the gym. To find out where to rent or buy one in your area, you can check out their website.
Remember the Great Pole-Dancing for Exercise Craze of 2008? Well, meet its cooler, hipper, and -- dare we say? -- sexier sister: burlesque class. Burlesque dancing has been around since the 1840s, and now it's taken on a new life as an exercise trend. At Scandalesque, a burlesque theater and studio in Phoenix, Ariz., real burlesque performers are the class teachers. They outfit their students in appropriate sexy garb and lead them through fast-paced choreography that blends hip hop, jazz, and bump-and-grind for more toned muscles and increased flexibility.
You can take the surfboard out of the water -- but can you take the water out of surfing? With SurfSet Fitness at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers in New York City, you can hop on a completely dry board for a total body workout. The board is actually a new piece of fitness equipment called the RipSurfer X, which moves to simulate a surfboard in water. There's plenty of cardio to get you sweating, and it takes a lot of concentration and core muscles to stay atop the moving board.
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Now, here's what every girl needs: a workout that burns 280 calories an hour and doubles as a handy party trick. Heather Wolf, a group fitness trainer and personal trainer in Gulf Breeze, Fla., promotes the benefits of juggling for health with her program, JuggleFit. Wolf says juggling improves coordination, strengthens your core, helps ward off stress, and best of all, doesn't feel like exercise.
Remember the great games you played during recess when you were a kid -- things like four-square, handball, and jump rope games? Punk Rope, a fitness center in New York City, uses the heart-pumping abilities of jumping rope and combines them with recess fun. The workouts are all set to a specific theme and accompanied by lots of music to distract from any of the discomfort of, you know, working out. What's more, you'll get fit, fast: Tim Haft, Punk Rope's founder, says you can expect to reduce calories while increasing your strength, agility, and even your mood while you work out with the class.
To know the difference between a standard aerobics class and a Kangoo class, all you have to do is look at your feet. You'll be wearing special shoes that have a springy mechanism on their bottoms. Kangoos are said to help you burn up to 50 percent more calories than regular cardio classes (that can add up to a whopping 750 to 1500 cals per hour!), while taking all the pressure off your knees, joints, and back. "Each boot weighs 2 pounds," says Tamara Barber, a group fitness manager and Kangoo instructor at Fitness Formula Clubs in Chicago. "You have to push your body weight down in order to get the bounce up." With Kangoo classes popping up all around the country, people are clearly jumping into the new trend. To find a class in your area, check out the Kangoo Club website.
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Boot Camp, Revisited
While boot camps themselves aren't entirely new (or -- let's be honest -- entirely what you'd call "fun"), Ariane Hundt's Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp literally takes the classes to new heights. Every class is taught entirely on the Brooklyn Bridge, with workouts burning 800 calories per session. Statue of Liberty, throngs of tourists, pointed skyscrapers -- who wouldn't want that kind of scenery as a distraction?