Health and Fitness

How to Love Exercise–Run Away With the Circus

Some people love to exercise–they find running meditative, hiking relaxing, and spiritual. They go to the gym daily and can’t live without it or faithfully bust out the exercise videos at home….And then there are the rest of us. “Exercise is boring,” we sigh, “it hurts. I don’t have time. I’d rather be relaxing…”

We know that we must exercise, that our bodies must MOVE, that it is an essential part of being fit and healthy and so we force ourselves into it, find a million ways to trick ourselves into sweating. Additionally, you have different weight loss programs like to help you lose weight.

There is, however, another way–or more precisely, other ways. From the wild to the wacky to the just plain common sense fun, here they are–brilliant and crazy ways to fit in fitness without even knowing you are exercising (who knows, you just might learn something hardly anyone else knows!)

Join the Circus: When I was little I dreamed, like many children, of running away with the circus. Now I can. Circus workouts are springing up around the country and exercise physiology studies show that an eight-week circus training course can improve overall body strength by up to 20% as well as burn 200-400 calories an hour. Workouts vary but most are centered around trapeze workouts, which strengthen the core, back, and arms and tightrope walking which tightens the core, legs, and increases balance.

Both also increase flexibility. Along with this fun (and some swear sexy!) tricks, many circus workouts also train the brain and funny bone with juggling, magic tricks, and clown school tips. The workouts are so much fun and such a unique challenge, that you will often forget you are working out.

Hula hooping: In the last few years, classes in the childhood art of hula hooping have become popular. Using weighted hula hoops, the classes mainly work out and chisel the core and hip area but can also get the heart rate up for some fun cardio. There is one catch, however–women are typically better hula hoopers than men–our hips are good for more than just childbearing it seems.

Retro-robots: The ’80s are back. And it’s more than just headbands and members-only jackets out there–Eighties aerobics and jazzercise have made their own comeback! So if you enjoy bopping around in unitards and legwarmers and dancing to Cyndi Lauper and a Flock of Seagulls, these classes are for you. Some instructors are faithful to the exercises and others have updated them to be a bit kinder and gentler on joints and muscles, so ask around. And if you have enough friends interested, have your own retropubic party–A million Jane Fonda tapes are still available on E-bay (I looked). Dress up, break out the Tab, and wail out ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ to your heart’s content.

Strippercize: Alright, this one steps away from childhood memories a bit. For women who want to work out while learning some sexy skills. There are strip-aerobics, lap-dance oriented workouts and the challenging but a wee bit dangerous (watch those spike heels ladies!) pole dancing courses for whatever strikes your fancy. Like the more sedate Bellydancing, strippercize is great for both cardio and strength training–it works out your abs, back, arms, and legs as well as your machismo muscle. And it can also double as a valuable work skill in these hard economic times!

Unicycling: Often called ‘the best workout available on one wheel’ unicycling is a challenging skill as well as a great workout. It is hard to do and takes intense concentration, which is good for the brain, builds patience, and is great for weight loss, core strength, and leg muscles.

It also builds stamina and discipline. It helps that unicycling is also relatively inexpensive–the only cost being the machine itself. After that, learning comes from joining a unicycling club (they exist all over the country) and learning from fellow members. The camaraderie of this relatively small group is great for the spirit and knowing such a rare skill is always a good ace up the sleeve. 

Obstacle Courses: Used in gym class and the military for years, obstacle courses have now evolved to offer fun diversions while providing a whole-body workout–rope walls and hurdles work out core muscles, climbing walls work on the arms, back, core, and endurance, cones, and tires provide training in agility and cardio–all the while providing a challenge that is really fun. Creating your own obstacle course is easy as well–plan a jog past a playground and use the jungle gym or bicycle to a park and use your natural surroundings to test your agility.

Amanda Walter is a movie buff whose whole life revolves around movies and the entertainment industry. She thoroughly enjoys all the critically acclaimed movies that she had watched to date.This is why she was a perfect choice when it came to looking for a professional writer at