Check out these five red-hot workouts for some exciting (and surprising!) ways to improve your strength, torch calories and boost your flexibility
Doing the downward dog pose with a goat on your back. Hitting a hilly trail carrying a 10-pound sandbag. Sound like fun?
Whether you love yoga, high-intensity workouts, running outside or hitting the pool, innovative fitness centers and trainers keep developing unique and challenging workouts so you’ll never be bored.
“People at all fitness levels seek out more unique workout experiences than run-of-the-mill classes or a simple jog on the treadmill,” says Renee Angelucci-Cancelliere, an ISSA-certified personal trainer and group instructor at Williamstown, NJ–based Rush Fitness. “I always tell my clients that if a workout doesn’t challenge them, it doesn’t change them. That’s why new experiences or adrenaline-charged classes keep you motivated.”
From New York to Los Angeles (and a few places in between), here are five workouts that you need to try. The best part? Many can be replicated at home.
1 Develop Your Sixth sense
Get ready to take your high-intensity interval (HIIT) class to the next level with New York–based Asphalt Green’s AG6 class. This full-body workout that burns 1,000 calories in a 45-minute class takes place in a special studio with pressure-sensitive wall panels and flooring that react to the exerciser’s touch, and the lights that guide the workout.
“AG6 pushes the HIIT experience to the next level by providing interactive targets that push participants past where they thought their limit was,” says Ashley Lentz, director of fitness. “The immersive experience incorporates electronic cues to train reaction time and muscle memory – an athlete’s sixth sense. Forcing participants to respond quickly to unpredictable cues, AG6 strengthens the mind-muscle connection imperative for athletic performance.”
There are seven unique stations in the AG6 studio, each of which has a permanent element like floor markings, lights or touch-sensitive panels. Instructors also incorporate additional equipment like medicine balls, balance boards or resistance bands to customize the classes.
Why it works: Every movement in an AG6 class has a target, pushing participants past their comfort zone and into their body-change zone. Targets come in the form of spatial floor references and LED-light visual cues. By forcing participants to react to unpredictable cues, AG6 trains reflexes and muscle memory, creating a mind-muscle connection imperative for athletic performance.
How to do it on your own: While the technology built into Asphalt Green’s studio is what makes AG6 unique, you can do a regular HIIT workout on your own.
2 Find Your Zen With Goats
Smile-inducing goat yoga, which is practiced in the presence of and in tandem with live goats, has become a new love of the mindfulness-minded. During classes, you can do the downward dog alongside bleating goats, who will also hop on your back while you’re on all fours.
“It’s about being present and not taking yourself so seriously,” says Jamie Codispoti, owner of the Tennessee-based Shenanigoats. “Interacting with animals lowers your blood pressure and calms you down. It’s also a great intro into yoga with no pressure to be super-skilled.”
The workout is a fun, interactive one-hour yoga session led by a certified instructor and several friendly goats.
Why it works: You’ll enjoy stretching, breathing and laughter. “We take your typical yoga session, and add a bit of humor and cute animals to it,” Codispoti says. “You’ll get definite stress relief combined with the typical benefits of yoga.”
How to do it on your own: While it might be difficult to do goat yoga at home if you don’t live on a farm, you can practice it with your own pets. Learn the basics by Googling “yoga with your pooch” or watching some videos on YouTube.
3 Run in the Water
Forget running on land. Try sprinting in the water for a strength-training and calorie-torching workout. Fluid Running is a 55-minute, high-intensity, deep-water running class that provides a total body workout without impact because it’s a completely non-weight-bearing exercise.
“You don’t have to be a runner to do this workout,” says Jennifer Conroyd, founder of Illinois-based Fluid Running. “You’ll get the benefits of strengthening your core and arms from the water resistance. And this is unlike any workout out there. It isn’t water aerobics. It’s hard in a good way.“
Participants wear a Fluid Running flotation belt to maintain an upright position in water at least six feet deep. By powerfully sweeping their arms and legs back and forth through the water, they’re able to mimic land running form, along with other coached movements, all without touching the bottom of the pool.
The workout includes high-intensity sprint sets and Tabata, along with slightly longer endurance runs.
Why it works: Fluid Running provides a full-body workout. In addition to the muscles you use to run on land – hip flexors, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calves – you’re also working your core muscles. You’ll sculpt your biceps, triceps and deltoids, since your arms work through the water’s density and turbulence.
How to do it on your own: If you have access to a pool with a depth of at least six feet, you can purchase the Fluid Running H2Go system, which includes the Flotation Running flotation belt, a tether, Bluetooth waterproof earbuds and access to Conroyd’s workouts via the Fluid Running app.“I’ve run across the U.S., Scotland, England and Wales on foot, and Fluid Running is a big part of my training plan,” says Adam Kimble, an ultra-runner and motivational speaker based in California. “The workout affords you the flexibility to get in really good running workouts in the water without putting the stress on your body that you would on pavement or on trails.”
4 Blaze a Trail, Bootcamp Style
Get outdoors and hit the trails and hills bootcamp-style as you do lifts, carries, tosses and presses with sandbags, kettlebells, buckets or weighted backpacks.
“We create health through adventure,” says Joey Daoud, a California-based fitness coach and CEO of New Territory Fitness. “Taking your workout to the trail adds a fun and exciting element to your workout, both for the beauty and health benefits of being in nature and the fitness benefits of navigating the trail’s mixed terrain.”
Why it works: Climbing uphill, staying in control going downhill and navigating uneven surfaces builds your endurance and also works your stabilizer muscles. “You don’t even have to think about what muscles you’re working,” Daoud says. “Focus on the basic movements and the terrain will take care of the rest.”
Plus, Daoud points out that hauling a sandbag 400 meters down a trail is like lugging a 50-pound bag of dog food from your car to the house.
How to do it on your own:
Finding a great trail is key to making the workout fun and exciting, Daoud says. Use a site like AllTrails.com to find trails at varying difficulty levels. Plus, most parks near you have shorter trails or incline paths. You can also easily build your own weighted object by adding your own sand or other material to a bag.
Daoud shares a sample workout called the Denali to try on your own:
- 400-meter sandbag carry uphill
- 400-meter sandbag farmer-carry downhill
- 12 lunges with sandbag
- 400-meter sandbag farmer-carry uphill
- 15 lateral hops over your sandbag
- 400-meter sandbag carry downhill
- 18 goblet squats with your sandbag
5 Bungee Your Way to Fitness
If you thought flying could never be part of your HIIT workout, think again. New York’s CRUNCH Fitness offers Bungee: Adrenaline Rush, 45 minutes with 4D PRO bungee sling trainers to send participants pushing, pulling and flying through unique strength, plyometric and cardio sequences.
“Before you think, ‘That sounds insane, because it’s going to hurt and I need to be able to walk later,’ don’t worry,” says Brookelyn Suddell, director of group fitness strategy and development at CRUNCH Fitness. “The bungee slings we use enable a low-impact HIIT workout so your muscles will feel the burn while protecting your joints.”
Why it works: “Resistance from the 4D PRO bungees allows participants to safely increase their mobility by allowing them to stretch further, go deeper into exercises like squats, lunges and pushups, and then assists in safely coming out of those movements,” says Suddell, adding that the 4D PRO was developed by a trauma surgeon and is used by pro athletes.
How to do it on your own: “A mini-trampoline is a great way to get in some low-impact cardio,” Suddell says. The 4D PRO bungees are available from retailers, although she advises not trying to replicate this exact workout on your own for obvious safety reasons.
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