Get off the treadmill and shake up your workout: these five über-trendy practices offer dynamic flow, rigorous workouts, and a fresh new approach to your hum-drum routine. With both in-person and online options, and adaptable to any fitness level, they’ll elevate your exercise, and inspire you to get moving.
1. Aerial Fitness
Earth-bound yogis: take your flow to soaring new heights with this aerial workout. This thrilling hybrid incorporates elements of yoga, Pilates, and dance, using fabric hammocks suspended from the ceiling, for a full-body workout that’s mostly off the ground. In yoga-based classes, you’ll flow through traditional postures while you’re suspended in a hammock; the practice harnesses the power of gravity to ease pressure on joints, deepen stretches, and enhance flexibility. Aerial dance-style classes are more acrobatic, and require a certain level of boldness; the hammocks are suspended much further from the floor, and you’ll climb fabrics, do flips, swing around, and hang upside down. It’s a vigorous workout that develops upper body strength, improves agility, seriously recruits the core, and develops no small amount of fearlessness. Any kind of aerial class requires properly installed props and spotters are essential for safety in acrobatic aerial forms—so it’s best to start with an in-person class. Visit airfitnow.com for local options.
If you like Zumba and other dance-y fitness classes, you’ll love Bokwa. Loosely based on Kwaito, a traditional South African style of music and movement, this motion-centric class offers flexibility, balance, and a true cardio workout. It’s less structured than classic dance forms, with no set choreography; instead, participants move their feet and bodies in the shape of letters, following hand signals from the instructor. Once you get the basic steps, you can juice it up with your own interpretative movements. With plenty of potential for modifications and flexible pacing, it’s appropriate for all ages and fitness ranges. What to wear: loose, comfy clothing and workout shoes (like you’re going to a Zumba). And if you’re avoiding crowds, it’s an inspiring at-home routine. You’ll find in-person options at bokwafitness.com or check YouTube for a variety of online classes.
3. Pole Dancing
Unleash your inner stripper, with a toned-down version of the infamous gentleman’s club performance art. This hybrid of dance, gymnastics, and strip-club moves centers around a vertically mounted metal pole. Participants perform flowing poses that blend dance and acrobatics, incorporating spins, flips, and inversions, for a full-body, cardio workout that develops strength, stamina, flexibility, and serious abs. Styles vary, from no-nonsense, athletic pole fitness classes, to graceful performance art and erotic variations. No special gear or clothing is required, but your duds should leave arms, legs, and stomach bare to safely grip the pole–so be ready to shed your shyness and show some skin. Look for in-person classes at local fitness clubs or dance studios. You can do pole dancing at home if you have a properly installed pole (but you’ll miss out on the performance element); find online classes plus props at polefitnessdancingshop.com.
Make the most of your workout regimen: micro-HIIT is the bomb when you have only minutes to spare. Regular HIIT (high-intensity interval training) combines bursts of intensive exercise at maximum effort with periods of lower-intensity exercise or rest. The goal is to push your body into higher heart rates faster, for an uber-efficient training routine that burns fat faster. Benefits are real: research shows HIIT training boosts metabolism, targets abdominal fat, increases muscle mass, and can slow cellular aging. A micro-HIIT workout follows the same principles, but it’s super-condensed, more intense; you’ll push yourself even hard, in shorter bursts and with fewer repetitions. And it’s fast; while HIIT workouts typically last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, you can finish a micro-HIIT routine in seven minutes flat, with the same benefits. No special equipment is needed (workouts generally use body weight, not dumbbells), so it’s an ideal at-home practice. You’ll find online classes at dailyburn.com and obefitness.com, or check your local fitness club for in-person options.
5. Blacklight Yoga
If a typical yoga class feels too … reserved for you, get your party animal on with Blacklight Yoga. Second only to Goat Yoga in terms of trendy appeal, this invigorating asana flow is done in a dark room with blacklights and high-volume music, for an uplifting routine that’s less Zen, more dance-club rave. (Participants usually wear white or neon garb to amplify the effects of the blacklights.) The focus is on freedom of movement, not perfection of form; classes progress at a faster clip than typical yoga routines, for a cardio workout, plus flexibility and strength. And the blend of darkness, loud music, and unstructured flow support the inward-focused aspects of yoga, cutting off external stimuli and bringing you back to a present-moment state. Music varies widely, from bass-heavy tribal beats to sultry emo to upbeat club. Look for in-person options in your area at yoga studios and fitness centers. Or find a variety of online classes on YouTube. If you’re practicing at home: recruit a group of friends, rent a blacklight, turn off the lights, and crank up the music, so you don’t miss the celebratory, playful vibe.