It’s almost swimsuit season, which means it’s also generally the time where we turn back to exercise to help shed some of that winter weight. But for those feeling uninspired by simply hitting the pavement and running, have no fear — we’ve got some wacky workout alternatives that will keep you amused and have you feeling fit.
Read on to learn more about these fun fitness trends.
1. Aerial yoga
Though it might look like members of these classes are hanging from camping pods that extend from the ceiling, the “pods” are actually soft fabric hammocks. A variation on yoga, aerial yoga — also sometimes called antigravity yoga — is designed to help devotees achieve a full-body workout at a much faster rate. Much like blocks that are used in traditional yoga to help with alignment and form, hammocks in aerial yoga are also used as props to help lessen spine pressure. Proponents of aerial yoga also say that because the hammock helps with alignment, they can achieve proper posture with more ease.
According to AerialYoga.com, “Many Unnata Aerial Yoga postures are designed to help the student better understand the purpose of traditional Yoga postures. Some Unnata Aerial Yoga postures are designed to help students achieve advanced traditional Yoga postures. Advanced Yoga postures can take years to learn, and even more time to understand and glean their benefits. The practice of Unnata Aerial Yoga is meant to help speed up that process in a safe manner.”
2. Pole dancing
Thanks to the new trend toward wacky and weird in fitness, pole dancing is not just for “adult entertainment” clubs anymore. Instead, it’s a demanding, full-body workout that tones muscles, increases flexibility, and helps to strip away pounds — the only kind of stripping involved in these classes, anyway. Angela Edwards, who owns a dance studio in Atlanta, told CNN that pole dancing is a full, challenging workout. “The dancing part is where you get the cardiovascular benefits,” Edwards said. Then there’s ‘pole-tricking,’ or doing specific movements balancing your body weight against the pole, such as the ‘fireman spin.’ That’s where you get the weight lifting and weight training.” As seen in the video above, Ellen DeGeneres even sent comedienne Loni Love to try the class.
3. Heel Hop
Promising core strength and sex appeal, Heel Hop is a low impact, full body workout designed to “shed pounds and sculpt that sexy you.” The workout, which begins with sit-ups and mat exercises to strengthen the core, then progresses to low-impact exercises and finishes with a cool down. Started by hip-hop dancer Kamilah Barrett, the class is also designed to help participants develop a longer, leaner lower body, cardiovascular strength, smaller waistlines, and toned legs. While experts warn that wearing high heels for extended periods of time can damage muscle and tendon structure, which can later lead to injury, Barrett says Heel Hop can help to recondition muscles and reduce potential for damage by strengthening dormant muscles.
4. Aqua Zumba
Zumba rose to fitness in the early 2000s, and remains incredibly popular. Today, approximately 14 million people take weekly Zumba classes in more than 140,000 locations across more than 185 countries. It’s no surprise, then, that Aqua Zumba is rising in popularity. Much like traditional Zumba, Aqua Zumba is a dance-focused workout that results in body toning and cardio conditioning. It’s so similar, in fact, that its trademark catchphrase is “Just Add Water and Shake.” Also known as the Zumba Pool Party, the workout combines low-impact aquatic exercises with dance moves. Because of the resistance in the water, the workout can very easily be tiring — but also fun.
This fitness trend can be found in several iterations, with two of the most popular being Pound, a workout that involves hitting the ground over 1,000 times during cardio workouts with lightly weighted drumsticks called Ripstix; and Drums Alive, which incorporates aerobic dancing and exercise balls into their drumming-based workout. Pound promises fast results — workouts are designed to burn between 400 and 900+ calories an hour — and fuses cardio, Pilates, isometric movements, plyometrics, and Isometric poses into a 45-minute series. Drums Alive is more family-focused and aerobic, but still an intense workout — think Zumba with drumsticks.