There’s nothing special about the standard, boring, run of the mill gym. No wonder no one sticks with their new year’s resolutions. In nearly every chain gym across the country we find rows of machines, cardio equipment and dumbbells. With the popularity of Crossfit, Soul Cycle and yoga; barbell lifting, spin classes and generic yoga are being rammed down the uneducated consumers throat as well. If you have never worked out before the standard gym is as good a place to start as any. On the other hand you could just as easily skip it. Don’t follow the herd. Find what interests you and explore that subject to the fullest. Once you have scratched that itch move on to something else. The fact is that there’s other stuff out there you haven’t tried that you could use to build a fit lifestyle. Here’s a few suggestions to get you started on the path of alternative training.
Get a Grip with Rock Climbing
Rock Climbing gyms are popping up everywhere. The only barrier to entry would be that you have to either buy rock climbing shoes or like the bowling alley, rent a pair of well sweated in climbing shoes. Stinky feet aside rock climbing is an excellent way to learn to use your body as one unit. Arms, legs and trunk work in concert and your grip strength will improve dramatically. No need for a nut cracker around the holidays!
Open Up to Ancient Weapons
From the staff, to the sword, mace and Indian clubs there’s a plethora of ancient weapons available to train with. These weapons don’t even have to be used in a violent or self defense context. The value comes in the coordinated movements used to wield them. You can gain awareness and body knowledge unattainable with plain old dumbbells. Do to the fact that all weapons are hand held when used correctly under the right tutelage one can expect to improve the strength, coordination and flexibility of the wrists, shoulders, waist and even the legs.
Master Martial Arts
Like weapons training martial arts comprises a huge category of options to train. Martial arts are cool because each of them has its own history and philosophy. These factors add an educational, mental and psychological component to the training you won’t find staring at a wall in front of a treadmill or elliptical machine. Additionally most martial arts emphasize the neglected components of fitness like coordination, flexibility, balance, speed and accuracy.
Dance to Your Heart’s Desire
It’s sad that so few people know how to dance. There are reputable dance studios almost everywhere and with just a few lessons you can learn enough moves to look like you know what you are doing. At the very least the lessons themselves will teach you how to be more graceful, fluid and connected. You’ll gain excellent body awareness and improve your posture. Dancing is also a social activity as you will inevitably be dancing at parties and other functions. Dance is the perfect example of how the time you spend training should enhance the rest of your life.
We love to watch the super human feats performed by our olympic gymnasts. It doesn’t seem possible that we could ever perform such feats of strength, power and coordination. Although the chance of competing as an olympic gymnast is highly unlikely even for the highly skilled, even the untrained novice can see tremendous benefits by learning the basics of gymnastics. All great gymnasts start out at the same place, with the basics of flexibility and connected strength. Learning gymnastics is amazing because it’s all about doing things naturally and building up to more complex movements over time. Your wrists, shoulders and back will never feel so light and flexible while gaining strength and grace.
Run Free with Barefoot Running
There’s plenty of studies and examples of how the human body was designed to run. Nothing drives these facts home more than learning to run barefoot. There are plenty of excuses not to run barefoot, most of which are nothing more than unfounded fears. Nevertheless, it’s no stranger than any of the above. Here’s how to get started.
There are so many other options out there. Try something other than the same old same old. Mix it up with something new and watch how your old, tired training becomes invigorated and fresh again.