25 Ways to Mix Up Your Workout

Mix up your workout, have fun and torch calories

We often get hung up in routine.  We tend to do the same thing over and over again, same 5 pound bicep curl, same number of pushups, same Bootcamp class.  But mixing it up is a great way to keep the body lean, keep your mind engaged, and keep you plugged in to regular exercise. Below are some tried and true ways to exercise that you might not have considered and some brand new ways to mix up your routine. Give 'em a shot, let me know how you do.  (Calorie burns are for the average 150 pound person.) 1.  Pilates:  Whether it's a mat class or an equipment class, Pilates is amazing for toning abs and arms.  You'll also feel refreshed when the class is over and surprisingly calm. 2.  Step Aerobics: A classic '90s workout that gets token placement on '00s health club schedules, but it's a fun class with relatively simple choreography and a great butt toner.  Give it a try.  There is also a great Wii Fit Step class program you can try at home. 3.  Golf w/out the cart:  Pick up those clubs and carry 'em yourself on the golf course.  You'll burn 1,284 calories by walking 18 holes (nearly 300 more than if you use a cart*). 4.  Spin Class / Biking:  Strap on a helmet and hit the road or visit your friendly local health club for a leg-toning workout.  Spinning is one of the highest calorie burns you can get in a gym.  An investment of 45 minutes will burn 696 calories** off your body. 5.  Yoga:  Yoga has a lot of options.  You can do everything from gentle, meditative yoga, to fat-busting, sweat-soaking workouts.  Count on a yoga class leaving you feeling calm, centered and toned.  I particularly like yoga for it's arm and back toning. 6.  Gyrotonics:  Gyro movements are performed on large pieces of medieval-looking equipment and frequently include circular movements and stretching/strengthening moves.  You can sample the Gyrotonic philosophy with their group exercise class, Gyrokinesis. 7.  Boot Camp:  These military-style classes have lots of gut-busting ab exercises, squats, lunges and pushups.  Get your GI Joe or Jane on and bust off a ton of calories. 8.  Frisbee / Ultimate Frisbee:  Yes, you can liesurely toss it back and forth and barely move from your patch of grass at the park. Or you can throw farther and run for your catches and get a great workout in.  If you're proficient at frisbee, take it to the next level with Ultimate Frisbee, a team sport that blends soccer and accurate arm tosses. 9.  Rock Climbing:  Look for a local rock climbing gym or join a class at a nearby park.  You definitely want a pro to show you the ropes before you go out on your own and never, ever climb in the wilderness alone.  This workout will leave your arms feeling like putty. Your legs get a lot of action too. 10.  Kayaking:  A great upper body workout.  I am a fan of kayaking on my local river and it's a great family participation sport that everyone can get involved in.  If you're trying it for the first time, it's best to paddle up river first when you're fresh and then let the current help you back. 11.  Kick Boxing:  Another favorite of mine, this high-calorie workout provides lots of opportunity to get your stress out and will leave your t-shirt soaked.  All the punches and kicks turn your arms and legs into jello. 12.  Volleyball:  This plyometric sport relies on explosive movement.  You must quickly move from low, "dig" positions, and then jump to hit the ball over the net.  Core is important here as you quickly change directions with the movements of the ball. 13.  Acrobatics.  There are a lot of different programs out there.  Google "Your Town Acrobatics" and see what turns up.  You'll find options such as trapeze, silks, trampoline, all are fun, most are very challenging upper body workouts and they'll certainly mix up your routine. 14.  Ice SkatingRollerblading.  When was the last time you slapped on a pair of blades and took 'em for a spin?  This is such a great workout, particularly for the butt.  Rollerblading will get you outside cruising in the parks and communing with nature and ice skating has it's own challenge with more balance work involved and trickier moves. 15.  Wii Fit:  On a rainy day, this is a good option.  It takes a while to get up to levels that I consider strenuous enough, but the balancing exercises are great and surprisingly challenging.  There are a variety of workouts to choose from so have fun exploring. 16.  Hula Hooping:  Relive your childhood with the adult version of this great exercise.  By using weighted hoops, participants learn to keep their hoop going and get a great ab workout. 17.  Dance Classes: Tap into your secret desire to be on "Dancing With the Stars" and take your partner out for tango lessons.  Or relive your ballet classes of yore with a barre class for adults.  A great zippy class to try in a gym setting is Zumba.  Whatever appeals to you, you'll burn calories as you glide across the floor. 18.  Ball Class:  Standing on the floor ~ easy.  Standing on a big inflatable ball ~ nearly impossible.  Use this three dimensional object to take your workout to the next level.  Even a simple ab crunch becomes challenging as you engage your core and try to execute the move without falling off. 19.  Hire a Personal Trainer:  Let's face it.  If you've been lifting weights in a gym and you've never hired a pro, you're probably doing it wrong.  A trainer will quickly design a workout for you that is effective and safe and will leave your musculature balanced and toned. 20.  Surfing:  If you're coastal, this is a great way to bond with nature, tone your legs, and engage your core.  Plus all the paddling you do to get to that perfect wave takes a lot of arm work.  This is another sport that you should try first with professional guidance. 21.  Parkour:  A great form of physical exercise meant to happen outside.  Hop over park benches, sidle up buildings, vault from rooftop to rooftop.  The truly athletic outdoor version is not for the faint of heart but there are indoor training classes as well that let you start from a beginner level and work your way up. 22.  Spelunking.  Yup, cave exploration.  You're outdoors, wriggling through a tight spot or traveling through a broad chasm.  Perfect for a hot day when you'll be cool inside.  I strongly, strongly recommend that you start in a group with an experienced guide to show you the ropes (literally and figuratively). 23.  Running:  If you're new to running, start with a walk/run program like the one here.  If you've been running for a while, shake it up with a workout like this. 24.  Hiking:  Strap on your hiking boots, grab a map from the Appalachian Mountain Club,and go explore the wilderness.  The beauty will be so overwhelming, you won't even notice the fat cells shrinking on your butt. 25. Tennis.  Grab a raquet and a friend and head to your local court.  Most towns have courts available either by reservation or you can just show up and start playing.  This is a great all-over exercise and is really a thinking man's game.  You'll need to stay alert to get those backhands and zip around the court.  Another calorie torcher, tennis single burns 570 calories in an hour. Alright, who's in?  Is there something on this list that you think is pretty cool that you don't do?  Let me know, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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2 Responses to 25 Ways to Mix Up Your Workout

  1. Boston Mamas May 5, 2010 at 9:07 am #

    Good reminder to get out my weighted hula hoop! I took figure skating lessons in the winter to shake things up (it was phenomenally fun and arse kicking!), and now I think I need something to shake things up amidst my typical yoga and running. -Christine

  2. Lisa Johnson May 5, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    Hope this inspired you beyond the hoop, but I’m a huge fan of Hula hooping! I have played with a weight hoop but I mostly use regular ones. Those sucks are great for abs. :-)

    Thanks Christine,


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