Ten alternative ways to get fit this summer

Are you fed up with dragging your derriere around the park or is trailing on the treadmill just too much to bear? Don’t despair! May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and iMPULSE has created the alternative guide to improving your physical fitness.

Class instructor Anne Goswell demonstrates how to pole dance to better fitness.

1. POLE DANCING

Gone are the days when half clad slightly hazed looking women would slide up and down a shiny pole in exchange for a crumpled up five pound note. Becky Shultz at Dance Base, Scotland’s National Centre for Dance says: “It no longer has the suggestive stigma it once had and it’s huge in Australia.” Pole dancing classes have been popping up all over the UK too with the new “get fit” craze. Celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Kate Moss have made this stylish whole body workout an accessible and fun way to build stamina, sculpt muscles and shed calories. Anne Goswell, who teaches the art of pole dancing in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Musselburgh says: “Though it is a fashionable hen party activity, surprisingly it’s not just women whirling around metal rods for a tighter derrière, more and more men are seeing the advantages of tighter core muscles, better coordination, upper body strength and acrobatic skills.

Jumping on a trampoline has become another new method to get in shape.

2. TRAMPOLINING

You probably haven’t seen a trampoline since the age of five but this is definitely one of the fun ways to bounce off that excess junk in your trunk. With more and more adults seeing what all the fuss is about, these gymnastic and acrobatic moves will firm all the major muscle groups in your body and the twisting, turning and jumping up and down will ensure lots and lots of laughter too. To master the moves and learn what a front drop, a somersault, a rudi, a straddle or a pike is, check out the Edinburgh University Trampoline Club or The City of Edinburgh Trampoline Club.

3. CURLING

Known as Scotland’s other national sport and a bit like lawn bowling on ice, curling is making a sexy comeback. Once the more popular sport in Scotland in the late 18th and 19th centuries, it has now taken a back seat to football. The Olympic winter games of 2002 in Salt Lake City saw the British curling team bring home a gold medal and curling became cool again as the younger generation all wanted to take part. With few curling venues in England, people are journeying hundreds of miles to Scotland to curl. The curlers slide the granite stones down the ice towards a target at the end of the ice rink called the “house”, winning each team points. This group activity will help with coordination, balance and mental strategy while giving your arms and legs a rigorous work out. A comradeship sport played by 30 different nations, curling is catching on fast again. Murrayfield Curling have “the come and try days” for beginners.

Heart-pumping cheer leading routines perfect dance skills and improve cardiovascular fitness.

4. CHEERLEADING

You don’t have to be an American schoolgirl to cheer. More than 100, 000 outside the US are seeing the benefits of learning how to cheer lead. This skillful and adrenaline-pumping activity will enable you to dance in meticulously choreographed routines. The high cardiovascular aerobic exercise will sculpt your muscles, teach you how to jump, lift and dance, giving you gymnastic flexibility and will enable you to perform pyramid formations. Becky Shultz of Dance Base in Edinburgh says: “People are easily put off by the idea that it’s just for young, fit people; lots of different people attend our cheer leading classes. From young people, to adults in their 40s to people from all types of back grounds, love the class. It’s so much fun and incredibly visual and though people are apprehensive at first they soon catch the cheering bug.”  If you want to learn how to perform cheering stunts, split lifts, pyramid formations or just have fun the American way, Dance Base in Edinburgh have cheer leading classes and Stunt workshops.

The Auld Reekie Roller Girls, an Edinburgh roller derby team, straps on its skates for a muscle-building cardiovascular workout.

5. ROLLER DERBY

Time to rummage through the attic and get out the old Barbie/Superman roller skates again. You would never have believed they would see the light of day again, but this high-octane sport is back. Quad skates have made a comeback thanks to roller derby team competitions worldwide. Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut – 2009’s Whip It starring Ellen Page – is based around the roller derby. If you’re thinking, how fit and healthy can skating really be? prepare to be surprised.

It will teach you tactics, combat skills and comradeship. Switch Blade Jade of the Auld Reekie Roller Girls says: “Roller Derby is not afraid to include both sides of what are seen as traditionally feminine (fishnets and shorts) and masculine (full contact, sweaty) aspects, all the girls are from different backgrounds, ages and experiences, most sports for girls bring out the nasty competitive side of women, whereas Derby is different. We have a rule – what happens on track stays on track. All the leagues across the UK are so lovely and help each other. It’s a true ‘sisterhood.’” Boys are not left out either most teams need male referees, jeer leaders, first aiders and trainers. Cool and funky roller names are a must and we are lucky to have our very own Roller Derby team in Edinburgh so check out Auld Reekie Roller Girls for the next session.

6. PAINT BALLING

This relatively young extreme team sport sometimes known as speedball or woodsball is a cat and mouse thrill-seeking game. Played at venues with various terrains and rules across the UK this highly competitive team sport will give you a high-octane adrenaline buzz and sharpen up your instincts. Originally created to simulate hunting, the tactics, endurance and dexterity needed to capture the opponent’s flag will boost your cardiovascular aptitude and survival skills. Sarah Hutcheon of Bedlam Paintball says: “Paintball is safer than football or rugby; an American survey said that you are fifty times more likely to get injured by playing golf than paint balling. The stigma that it promotes violence is slowly changing and people are seeing it for the fun adrenaline pumping sport that it is. If anything, the players have so much fun that in the end they are comparing bruises and war wounds.” The crawling, diving, running and chasing in different directions will firm and tone all major muscles and really strengthen arms and legs. Played in 40 countries, this is a fun, social and healthy activity and most paintball venues specialise in parties so if you have a large group of people you can take advantages of discounts too.

Ultimate players from Great Britain and New Zealand compete at the World Ultimate Championships 2004 in Turku, Finland.

7. ULTIMATE FRISBEE

It seems a Frisbee is not just for your dog to chase anymore. Get yourself down to the Meadows in Edinburgh this summer and you’ll see a multitude of Frisbee lovers chasing bright circular objects in their hoards.

So favoured is this once-casual sport that it has been made into a competitive event with international and European championships with male and female leagues and tournaments. Traditionally an American sport, Ultimate Frisbee has come across the Atlantic and turned into a fast-moving, no-referee, quick-thinking, non-contact, fun and spirited team game. Don’t be fooled though; as fun as it is to run around chasing neon discs in the park you will need agility, endurance and lots of training. Simon Hill of the Ultimate UK Association says: “This is an honourable, fun sport. Teams across the world play without referees; we govern ourselves because it’s a casual, exciting, dynamic challenge, and even games such as football, for instance, don’t always end up with a fair result even if they are refereed.”

This one is definitely for those who love the outdoors. Copyright infringement sees that clubs do not use Frisbee in their titles. So look for “Ultimate” clubs or log on to the Ultimate UK Association to see when the next session is.

8. HULAHOOPING

That bright plastic hoop that you played with as a kid is making a huge impact in the fitness world and becoming the latest health obsession. People of all ages and gender are joining hooping, hoop dance or hulaerobics classes. This dance phenomenon is spreading like wild fire from LA to the UK and is a fun way to get fit, healthy  and revert to your childhood. Fiona Blair who teaches how to hoop at venues in Edinburgh says: “Hoopaholics love it as it gives them an all round body confidence as they learn to spin the hoop with different parts of their body whilst performing other forms of exercise like squats, lunges, leg and arm spins. It targets the calf muscles, the arms, the back muscles, and tones the buttocks, but depending on the pace you hoop it can also be akin to Yoga, giving you a relaxed energising feeling.” Hoop sessions are combined with dance, gymnastic and aerobic moves, toning and strengthening core stability. If you missed Sports Relief’s Hoopathon in March now is the time to start spinning, whirling and feeling retro again. To get more information on trying out a class or workshop, visit Edinburgh Hooping.

A British Military Fitness class works out 16 July 2009.

9. MILITARY FITNESS

It’s a bit like boot camp but without all of the scary people in uniforms shouting and ordering you about. Military fitness was originally pioneered from training exercises in the armed forces. This phenomenon is not just for fitness experts but for us mere mortals too. Designed for all members of the public this is one of the best ways to get fit whilst receiving moral support from other participants and fitness instructors (usually ex members of armed forces). Laura Kettle from the British Military Fitness provider says “the instructors certainly know how to get the best out of you, you‘ll be strong and fit in no time. From press ups to squats, from running to team-building you will be challenged and motivated. This is a great way to attain your fitness goals as it such a social activity.”

This is definitely one for those who lack motivation, need a little bit of encouragement and who love the outdoors. British Military Fitness runs classes all across the UK but local sessions are held at the Meadows. To book a free trial class or to find other Edinburgh BMF locations, go here.

10. ZUMBA

This highly infectious Latin dance craze is spreading like wildfire, with more that 5 million people zumba-ing everyday. The intense dance-based workout to fast-paced music fuses most of the Latin American beats from calypso to meringue to salsa without the disadvantages of complex aerobic moves.  Rumour has is that it was created accidentally by Shakira’s choreographer, Alberto Perez, in his native Columbia, forgetting his usual dance music and improvising with Latin beats he started this red hot revolution to help the world get fit, shake their booty and join the party. Anne Goswell, who teaches the Latin dance craze as well as pole dancing in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Musselburgh says: “Zumba will improve your fitness, teach you how to dance and you will have fun at the same time. Don’t be put off by the choreography, people who take the classes have so much fun they forget that they are in a class, and just end up enjoying themselves.” To feel the Latin heat browse GoesWell for class times and dates.

Words by Nargis Lalee

Photography by Anne Goeswell, Matthew Payne, British Military Fitness, Mary R. Vogt and Paul Hurt

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