Fun ways to stay fit

The hardest part about getting regular physical activity? Motivating ourselves to do it. Experts remind us we’re more likely to stick with activities we enjoy — but sometimes our exercise routine can be become a little too routine.

Need a change of pace? Here are some fun trends to try.


Since its start more than a decade ago in Columbia, this popular dance fitness program has spread to over 125 countries — it’s even one of the top 10 fitness trends in 2012. It’s nicknamed a “fitness-party” for a reason: the classes are more dance moves than conventional aerobics fare  — all to Latin American and international music. (Think samba, salsa, mergenue and hip hop.) You don’t need a dance partner, and there are classes available for all ages.

Here’s a look at Zumba in action:

Looking for a class near you? Zumba Fitness lists over 1,000 classes from across Canada. You’ll also find its influence showing up in odd places — like Zumba aqua aerobics classes.

Ballet Fitness

It’s never too late to fulfill your dream of being a ballerina. Ballet fitness gives classical ballet a fitness upgrade with classes that tone and stretch as well as get your heart pumping.

For example, Toronto’s Extension Method offers a variety of classes from a gentle “Adagio Stretch” to the full “Allergo Bootcamp”.  You can opt for classical ballet classes too, or choose a course that focuses on strength training — especially effective for toning the arms and upper body.

Here’s a quick demonstration:

Ballet fitness programs are few and far between in Canada at the moment, but DVDs are available to use at home. If you’re on the hunt for a studio, make sure you find one that caters to all ages and abilities. You shouldn’t need to be a ballet pro to try this trend, but some classes are more rigorous and may require some previous experience with ballet.



Can’t get enough dance? Zumba isn’t the only program tapping into the dance trend.  Bollyfit captures the vibrancy, energy and music of Bollywood — not to mention the moves!  Bollywood dancer Reshmi Chetram created the class as a way for people enjoy the dance without complicated choreography.

Want to try it yourself? Watch as Chetram puts the ideaCity 2010 audience through their paces:

Currently, BollyFit classes are held throughout the Toronto area — you can find out when and where through the BollyFit International website — but don’t worry if you don’t live nearby. Chetram hosts a daily show on the ONE Mind Body Spirit channel. The BollyFit webpage also has online videos that let you learn the moves at home.


No, it’s not a food fight — but it is part table tennis, part badminton and part tennis. Popular in the U.S. for decades, the sport came to Canada thanks to “snow birds” eager to play all year round. There’s not a lot of equipment: just a paddle, a whiffle ball and a net similar to that used for badminton (only hung a little lower). It’s less rigorous than tennis or racquet ball, and suitable for people of all ages and abilities.

Curious? This video explains more:

For more information, check out our previous feature on pickleball and visit PickleBall Canada to find games near you. There are drop in games, leagues and even championship tournaments.


Nordic walking

Ever wonder why some walkers are sporting a pair of fancy poles? They may look a little unusual, but those poles are making their upper bodies work harder — using more muscles and burning more calories. Urban poling or Nordic Walking was once just a way for skiers to train in the off season, but now it’s a fitness trend anyone can enjoy almost any time of year.

Urban walking poles aren’t the same as ski poles, and there is a trick to the technique to get a full body workout. Here’s how it works:

If you feel self-conscious trying it on your own or are looking to meet new people, look for urban poling groups in your area. (Ask at your local sports shop where poles are sold or check your community.)  To find more information about the benefits and resources, check out our feature on urban pole walking.

Suspension Yoga (or Aerial Yoga)

Why let gravity get in the way of a good workout? This innovative type of yoga has you hanging in a specially designed sling with handles that allows you greater freedom of movement than the usual floor exercises. The workout combines traditional yoga poses with aerial moves that help stretch and strengthen the muscles.

And yes, you’ll be hanging upside down part of the time — a pose which is reportedly good for back pain, digestion, circulation and mood (among other benefits).

Still not convinced? See for yourself:

This trend is fairly new so classes haven’t made their way across much of the country yet. If you’re in the Toronto area, you can find classes through Hands on You and The Flying Yogi. You can even order the equipment to install at home, but you may want to try some training first.



Consider it a high tech game of hide and seek — or a scavenger hunt of sorts. Geocaching has become a popular past time for all ages and gives you another excuse to enjoy the outdoors. You’ll need a GPS unit or mobile device to play, but the principle is fairly simple. It all starts when a geocacher hides a waterproof container with a log book and “treasures” (often small items for trading) and then records the coordinates. The coordinates are then posted on a listing site where other geocachers use the information to hunt for “buried treasure” — then share their experiences online.

Sounds simple? Depending on which items you’re seeking, geocaching can take you on lengthy journeys and to far off locations. You can go geocaching just about anywhere in the world — rumour has it there are even a couple of caches in Antarctica — but you can find caches in your area too. Geocaching isn’t a solitary activity — enjoy it with your kids or grandkids and people who share your interests. Chances are you’ll forget you’re exercising in the process.

Not sure where to look? is a good place to start. Tech guru Steve Dotto also has an introduction to this activity in his Geocaching for Zoomers post.

While not all of these ideas are suited to everyone’s preferences and abilities, they might be worth a try if you’re looking for something new. If you have any concerns, talk to the instructors and your doctor before signing up.

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