Hate running? Here are five unconventional ways to work out

By Alyson Ward

If you’re going to break a sweat, you might as well make it fun, right? Thankfully, there’s no limit to unconventional workouts that get you moving toward a healthier you.

“Be creative,” said Blaine Schmidt, performance coach at Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute. “As long as you get your heart rate up, you’ll see some benefits.”

Here are some ideas to try in lieu of the treadmill.


Indoor or outdoor climbing offers a fresh way to build strength.  And since you’re relying on yourself to lift up your body, it often inspires weight loss.

Climbing works the heart, builds upper and lower body muscles, increases flexibility and even offers a mental break. No screens—just you.

“Some of the greatest benefits are spiritual rather than physical since the nature of this sport requires focus, balance, determination and overcoming fear,” Schmidt said.


There are almost as many different forms of yoga as there are postures. There’s Hatha, which is physical yoga postures, or Bikram yoga, which is typically set in a sauna like environment.

Restorative yoga focuses on winding down after a long day and relaxing your mind. “You spend more time in fewer postures,” Schmidt said.

But in hip-hop yoga, you trade meditative peace for amped up music and energy. Whatever yoga you choose, you’ll enhance your flexibility, strength, breathing and concentration.

“One of the main benefits is you get a better mindset and body awareness,” Schmidt said. “Yoga is the unity of the body and the mind.”


This alternative on spinning immerses you 4 feet deep in a pool. Water adds resistance to what’s also known as hydro-spinning or aqua cycling. In some classes, you hook your feet on the handle to do crunches and push off to do push-ups.

Other water sports get you outside: stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, water-skiing or wakeboarding. “Any type of rowing or paddling is great for upper body strength and endurance,” Schmidt said.


Feel like a kid again while you burn calories and strengthen your legs and hips.

“If you’re outside, you clear your head of distractions and release hormones that make you feel better mentally and physically,” Schmidt said.


Japanese and Korean forms of self-defense are merged with grappling and kicking.

Takedowns strengthen your lower body, while raising your heart rate and self-discipline. 

“Martial arts have many health benefits for the body and the mind, including muscular endurance, power, and improved balance and joint mobility,” Schmidt says. “You get the same health benefits as jogging, such as stress relief, greater confidence and balance.”

Quick Fitness Fixes for the Office

Life can get busy. Luckily, there are moves to help you stay on track, no matter where you find yourself – even while at work. The following versatile moves can help you kick your fitness routine into gear at the office.

Copy Machine Calisthenics

• Lift one leg to the back or side, keeping it straight.

• Slowly lower it.

• Change sides.

• In the same position, bend your right knee.

• Swing leg forward and back for 30 seconds.

• Repeat with left leg.

Chair Squats

• Start with feet flat on floor.

• Sit tall at your desk.

• Hold your abdominal muscles tight.

• Extend one leg until it is level with your hip.

• Hold for ten seconds.

• Slowly lower leg.

• Repeat 15 times.

• Change legs.

Exercise Ball Ab Toning

• Sit on the ball and find your balance.

• Pull your navel in.

• Pull your shoulders back (no slouching).

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