I feel like it’s a complete and total cliché to say things like “We all know your workout routine can get repetitive and boring, so here’s some ways to spice it up!” – So I’m not going to say that. What I am going to say is this: On top of activities you do to train, a fit lifestyle should ideally include physically challenging activities you do not because you’re intending to work out, but just because they’re fun and they make you happy.
I am a big ol’ gigantic fan of anything that puts me in the air, and I don’t mean up in the air like climbing rocks, but up in the air like flying. Suspension is amazing in terms of a full-body resistance workout, but it’s also just a really cool physical sensation. Here are three activities that get your endorphins running while also getting you up in the air and smiling:
1. Slacklining. BROMIE. Have you ever wanted to walk a tightrope but thought, “I don’t think I’d be able to keep my foot on a tightrope wire”? Enter the slackline. It’s a flat nylon cord about two inches wide. The videos you’ll find of pro-level slackliners are either forbiddingly intimidating or completely aspirational, depending on your outlook, so watch at your discretion. But the entry point into slacklining is to go to a park on a not-very-windy day, set the slackline up between two trees, and just try to even get five steps on the line without falling off. Two hours of slacklining – even at just this level – will kill your abs; the focus and balance it takes to get on the line, center yourself, and walk is more than you’ll even realize you’re doing when you’re doing it. Bonus: It’s the kind of thing you can do with your friends all summer, and there’s no need to be embarrassed because passersby are generally either impressed that you’re even trying or more concerned with the fact that it looks like a ton of fun (it is!).
2. Trampolining. Wanna bounce on stuff without the pressure of landing on a cord? Trampoline gyms and parks are everywhere. Let’s talk about the act of jumping or bouncing for a second: When you force your body into the air, you’re making your muscles work against the force of gravity. That explosive effort is the basis of plyometrics, and trampolining is plyometrics with the added awesome of flying through the air. Because it’s also easier to do flips and tricks with the aid of a trampoline, you can get more use of your upper body than you can in plyometrics. Even just jumping up and down on a trampoline is good for your core because you’re using it simultaneously to balance and to bring your legs up. Try an afternoon at a trampoline park and tell me you’re not exhausted afterward!
3. Aerial Yoga. Yoga can be a good enough all-over strengthening exercise, depending on what sort you do; now, imagine getting that same benefit of isometric movement and balance while also being suspended in the air. Think of it as the combination between yoga and a hammock, which, IMO, are two of the best things in the entire world. Aerial yoga gives you the opportunity to flip, stretch, and balance in ways that aren’t feasible on the ground, to use the support of the hammock to focus your effort on different parts of your body, and – maybe most importantly in terms of flat out fun – you can spin in the air while you hold a pose. There are aerial yoga gyms in plenty of places, but you can also have a silk hammock installed in your home and — hurray! — it doesn’t take up more space than your yoga mat and it’s easy to tuck away. Go fly!
Bonus: Slackasana. Are you insanely fit and super well-balanced? There’s such a thing as yoga slacklining. If you manage to do this, I am in awe!
Rebecca Vipond Brink is a writer, photographer, and traveler who can almost get into the middle of the line, and that’s good enough! You can follow her at @rebeccavbrink or on her blog, Flare and Fade.