Did somebody say sleep classes? Jessica-Belle Greer investigates ideas for exercise that don’t all include working up a sweat.
Forget spending hours in boardrooms and cafés or a half-day on the golf course – running and cycling groups are becoming the hottest, and most efficient, way to network. Like-minded exercisers everywhere are getting together to compare notes while pounding the pavement. And with new apps on smartphones like the Strava GPS Cycling and Running App making it easier than ever to share your exercise details with your contacts, conversations between colleagues and other business associates can continue outside these fast-paced, on-the-clock meetings.
Holistic horse riding
Perfect posture, strength and grace – watching professional riders it’s plain to see that horse riding is a full-body workout. Equine therapy is a new holistic hobby gaining traction among those who prefer the great outdoors to the gym.
Not only does the unique movement of riding a horse challenge different muscle groups to those of standard workouts, there’s also an almost spiritual element to guiding such a powerful animal.
Horses respond to body language, so a relaxed and positive manner is needed if you want to ride a calm and contented animal. Plus, the level of concentration required means you have no choice but to forget your concerns and stay in the moment.
“You achieve higher levels of positive feelings, mental freedom, physical strength and coordination,” says Shelley Thomson, registered occupational therapist and owner of Silverdale’s Headway Equestrian.
Napping as exercise
As increasingly gruelling techniques such as Cross Fit are being lapped up by gym junkies, a much more relaxing option is gaining traction as the antidote to high-impact exercise: ‘napercise’.
With sleep dubbed the ‘new status symbol’ by the New York Times, these 45-minute nap classes are right on trend.
They’re not available in New Zealand yet, but similarly less strenuous exercise sessions focusing on general wellbeing and gentle activity are also gaining popularity, with yin yoga, tai chi and stretch classes ever more available locally.
Artistic expression as exercise
Dance and other artful forms of exercise that culminate in performances combine movement with serious fun. Take water ballet troupe the Wet Hot Beauties, for example. For the 2017 Auckland Fringe Festival, 86 women (and one man) of all ages and levels of experience rehearsed for six months to put on a week of incredible shows, and they’re now considering their next project.
Making friends, learning new skills and bringing enjoyment to others – this and other activities like it are a win-win-win.
For an increasing number of people, getting fit is all about finding your inner strength. Organisations including the New Zealand Self Defence Academy in Wellington and Krav Maga Auckland offer a range of training sessions – some women-only.
With the aim of boosting your everyday self-confidence with martial arts, boxing and practical techniques, these empowering classes leave devotees fighting fit.
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Aerial silk yoga
We’re always looking for exciting ways to make an hour of exercise fly by and it’s no surprise to us that acrobatics-inspired classes are still big news. Aerial fitness is a little like yoga and Pilates, except instead of a mat or reformer, you work with large ribbons, called silks. Classes can involve being suspended off the ground on silks strung from the roof, like at Auckland’s Aracnation, or sticking closer to the ground, using ‘hammocks’, as at Dunedin’s Air Fitness.
Like all new technologies, personal trackers and wearable smart clothing are only getting better and their applications more widespread. Intelligent training mats that optimise stability and provide neurofeedback are now on the market, thanks to Naboso Technology.
Under Armour is designing post-workout smart sleepwear to help you recover after exercise and nix sore muscles. Meanwhile, the Fitbit tracker is being updated with in-built personal training and swipe-to-pay capabilities.
No longer just for dancers, classes that incorporate the ballet barre into workouts to sculpt and tone remain a major hit. And you don’t have to have rhythm to attend classes, such as those held by Xtend Barre in Auckland and Christchurch’s On Pointe.
The barre is mostly used as a prop for balance and support with the main focus of the class being flexibility and strength.
This article originally appeared in Simply You Body & Beauty.