6 new ways to get fit and have fun
Once, it was enough to pull on legwarmers and hit an aerobics class; now exercise is all about high-energy entertainment
1. Jukari Fit to Fly
Jukari Fit to Fly is the result of a unique teaming of Reebok and Cirque du Soleil. Almost a year in development, the workout has now been introduced into selected gyms around the world (including Montreal), offering a whole new way to work out. The 60-minute sessions are centred on specially designed trapeze swings, which are suspended from the ceiling, can be adjusted in height and have a full 360-degree swivel point.
According to converts it's a wow of a workout with plenty of built-in stretch and can be breezed through by people of all skill and fitness levels.
2. Cardio cinema
What if you could watch a recently released blockbuster as you clock up a few kilometres on the treadmill? Gold's Gym started the rush to bring a slice of Hollywood into their cardio rooms by installing a mini cinema, and different variations on the theme have become the hot ticket at copycat gyms. These cardio cinemas offer the ultimate in distraction, with most gym-goers puffing their way to the closing credits without realising they've been at it for 90 minutes.
4. Housework workout
For those of us who find exercise as much of a chore as housework, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in the U.S. have come up with a good incentive to combine the two and double the benefits. Endocrinologist James A. Levine believes that we burn most of our calories in incidental activity, or NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), such as housework and fidgeting. So next time you're pushing the vacuum cleaner over the shag pile, take heart in the fact you're also sucking away the calories.
3. Deck of Cards workout
In this workout, each suit in a deck represents a different exercise and the number value of the card (10s and up) dictates how many repetitions to do.
A classic version of the Deck of Cards workout goes something like this:
Jacks - 11 reps
Queens - 12 reps
Kings - 13 reps
Aces - 15 reps
For every diamond you turn up, you do push-ups; for every spade, you do squats. Allocate crunches and lunges to clubs and hearts, and simply rotate the exercises until you've worked your way through the deck.
5. Karaoke spin
Giving new meaning to the term "excruciating exercise," the latest fitness fad has spin fans putting their vocal chords through a workout while they cycle off last night's cheeseburger.
As a video jukebox at the front of the class blasts out everything from '80s pop classics to hi-energy rock anthems, microphones are passed from bike to bike. While this might be lots of fun for some, we maintain that there's only one thing more painful than a thigh-burning spin class: having to do it the sound of fellow spinners breathlessly belting out "Eye of the Tiger".
6. Power Plate
Fitness buffs are taking their workouts to astronomical heights with an exercise machine originally designed to help Russian cosmonauts avoid muscular atrophy while in space. The machine vibrates at up to 50 times per second, which causes your muscles to contract while you exercise on the plate.
Sting, Hillary Swank and Clint Eastwood have all used the Power Plate-and so has our web editor Kat Tancock, who gave it a whirl at the Flex RX Studio in Toronto. "At first it seems weird-after all, you're working out on a vibrating platform. But you feel the vibrations through the whole body, and especially on the muscles you're working. It's a fun and different way to do strength training," she says.