As we talked about last week, there is a difference between losing weight and being fit. While both of these things can be accomplished at the same time, there are different things you need to focus on in order to reach both goals.
A second thing to consider is that while fitness will help with your weight loss goals, fitness is not the only thing that will help you lose weight. You must, must, must change your eating habits in order to lose weight and keep it off permanently. We talked about this last week so I’m not going to get into it all over again. 🙂
This week’s post is all about out-of-the-box ways you can be more active and get fit this year. I’m writing specifically for people who don’t want to lift weights or run. Don’t get me wrong, both of those activities are great and will get you fit, but if you don’t want to try them or have already tried them and didn’t like them, here are a few more ideas for you!
- Horseback Riding – You might not realize this but Maryland and Virginia are horse country. Anne Arundel county in particular has a lot of options for adults who are interested in learning how to ride or for people who used to ride and want to get back into it. You’re looking at paying ~$45 for a half hour lesson in this area which is a pretty good rate. South county is going to be more ‘horsey’ but if you live closer to Howard or Prince George’s you can also find some good barns in those areas. Scared of getting started? Don’t worry – you won’t be jumping on your first couple of lessons. A good instructor will make sure you are comfortable with your seat and confident controlling the horse before they ask you to do anything risky. Look around at a few barns and talk to a few instructors before just diving in. Check for things like general organization (most barns won’t be spic and span so don’t judge too hard if there is hay and mud every where), friendliness (don’t get stuck in a barn full of horse snobs), make sure you get along with the trainer (if you don’t, there are plenty more out there) and do an internet search to see what other people are saying about the barn and instructor. Most barns will have helmets for you to use for your first lesson and most are okay with you wearing some sort of legging + boot so that you don’t have to make any major purchases in case you decide horses just aren’t for you.
- Acrobatics/Aerial Silks – These are not really the same activity but they are similar enough that I’m going to use them under the same paragraph. Acrobatics tends to deal more with a bar and silks works with just that – fabric hanging from a ceiling. This is primarily an upper body workout as you will be hauling yourself up from the ground into the air using your arms. Yeah, it’s a little scary the first time you find yourself hanging upside down ten feet in the air but just knowing that you’re capable of doing something like that is really exhilarating. Due to the nature of these activities you’ll also be focussing a lot on flexibility which is an added bonus for those who are interested in that. I’ve seen a few dance studios offer aerial dance classes which might be something interesting to look into if you wanted to add music. I’ve never tried that before though. The best places to look for aerial/acrobatic classes are circus schools (there’s one in Columbia) and dance studios (the aerial dance I saw was at Studio 180 in Annapolis). You could also try aerial yoga which isn’t offered very much in this area (Mantra Fit has a few classes in Severna Park and at the Nabbs Creek Marina) but I wasn’t super thrilled by it as you aren’t particularly doing anything dangerous (which I understand but it wasn’t what I was looking for).
- Ballroom Dancing – This one is actually a great cardio exercise! Things like club swing, waltz or rumba…really anything you want to learn. The major difficulty with this form of exercise is that you’ll feel a little pressured to have a partner and if your significant other won’t join in you might need to figure out a way to go it alone. Not impossible but sometimes a little awkward. I initially started dancing at the Arthur Murray studio in Crofton but I left when it became really expensive and pushy. They have a GREAT curriculum, however, and they organize a LOT of social events so if you have the spare money and like a lot of organization, they might be the place for you. I’m currently looking around at possibly going to Studio 180 in Annapolis to try hip hop dance classes and a coworker found a place near Baltimore that offers drop in classes for $10 on Mondays. More to come on that.
- Rock Climbing – Earth Treks in Columbia is the best place around here to try indoor rock climbing. They have a great community and offer memberships for people who really enjoy it. Rock climbing really is a whole body exercise and will definitely leave you sore the next day. They have belayers there and you can train to be one so that you can go with a friend and don’t have to ‘borrow’ one. But if you’re there alone they’ll help belay you if you need it. It’s not too pricey if you go often enough and they have all the equipment there that you’ll need (harnesses and ropes). If you want to go further with this (like go outside) there are plenty of places around here that organize trips you can sign up to go on. Rock climbers are a friendly, social bunch so if you’re looking for a group of people to join, you really can’t go wrong!
- Hiking – Despite the urban sprawl we have here in Anne Arundel, we also have plenty of parks with trails spread all around the county. I currently go hiking with one of my coworkers and I always feel sore the next day. There really isn’t anything better than getting out of the city and being surrounded by nature for half a day. Hiking is primarily a lower body exercise and is freakishly cheap (read: mostly free). In this county you can purchase a park pass which will get you into all of the paid county parks (Fort Smallwood, John Downs, Quiet Waters, Kinder Farm + a few others). I haven’t purchased my 2019 pass but last time I bought one it cost $30. Normally the parks are $6 to get into so if you visit parks five times in 2019 the pass will pay for itself. You’ll definitely want a good pair of boots (go try some on at REI) and some good wool socks. A lightweight backpack is a nice addition (I got one on sale at Bass Pro by Arundel Mills) and as you get more into it you’ll probably want some hiking pants (they’re made with a different material that keeps you cool and protected) but jeans are fine to start with (I still hike with jeans).
What are your off-the-wall fitness activities? What should I add to this list? If you are experienced in these activities, what would you suggest to people who are new and just want to try them out?
Thanks for reading! Have a great week!