Rachel Grunwell

Rachel Grunwell is a fitness writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Five wacky ways to keep fit

Who says getting fit has to be a bore? If you're the type whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of a gym membership (because you know exactly what lay ahead) then try thinking outside the square. Rachel Grunwell reveals five wacky ways to keep fit.
Five weird and wacky ways to keep fit. Photo / Getty Images, NZH
Five weird and wacky ways to keep fit. Photo / Getty Images, NZH

1. Extreme Trampoline jump-fit class:

Rachel Grunwell attends Extreme Trampolining in Onehunga. Photo / Getty Images
Rachel Grunwell attends Extreme Trampolining in Onehunga. Photo / Getty Images

I giggled and squawked and felt like a kid again while doing this at Extreme Trampoline in Onehunga, Auckland. Talk about getting a "high" (it's up to 9m high to the ceiling from these Olympic-size trampolines). I did things like a pike (legs forward and touching my toes while in mid-air) and spinning around while "in flight" to land on my tum and bum. But the biggest thrill - I worked up to doing a forwards flip and landed on my feet (this had my heart racing!) But this is more than good fun; NASA research reckons 10-minutes on a trampoline is a better cardiovascular workout than 20-minutes' running.

2. Aerial Hoop:

Aroha Wikohika in her aerial hoop studio. Photo / Michael Craig
Aroha Wikohika in her aerial hoop studio. Photo / Michael Craig

Think circus-style stuff and trapeze-like manoeuvres, but carried out on a thick hoop (suspended by rock-climbing gear that's attached to a ceiling beam).

So it's safe - as long as you don't let go. I'm not super strong, but in an hour lesson I managed to lift my hulk up into the hoop gracefully, I let go of both hands and lay mid-air with my body curved within the hoop for a "man in the moon" pose. I did six moves on the hoop in 60-minutes, which was challenging but quirky cool. I had achy arms afterwards (I could barely lift an arm up to brush my teeth the next day), and my legs were a tad bruised behind the knees (remember to wear merino tights), but I loved boasting to my kids about the fun I had. Ultimately, it takes strength, nimbleness, core stability and a sense of fun to attempt this. But imagine the party tricks you'd learn while building up a sweat and getting strong. I did this at swing360 studio in Auckland central, but it's elsewhere too including in Henderson and Penrose.

3. Bokwa:

Rachel Grunwell tries out a Bokwa class. Photo / Getty Images
Rachel Grunwell tries out a Bokwa class. Photo / Getty Images

This American derived group fitness/dance craze means "Bo" (for boxing) and "Kwa" (for Kwaito, a dance from Johannesburg). I did a class in central Auckland, but it's in various places including even Tokoroa and Taupo. At the class I tried, two instructors directed us on drawing letters and numbers with our feet to the beat of popular songs. The instructors even prompted each move with American sign language. I've got two left feet when it comes to dancing usually, but this was fairly easy to follow. Regulars add more personal flair to the moves like waving their arms, shaking their booties and other freestyle fun. The class ends with strength work and stretching. It's a high-energy gig, but I saw a 60-year-old great-grandma who almost outshone the whole class (she loves Bokwa over Zumba by the way).

4. Vibration Training:

Fleur Bromley vibration training at The Exercise Room, Parnell, Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring
Fleur Bromley vibration training at The Exercise Room, Parnell, Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring

I had visions of turning up to a gym and some weird machine would just shake, rattle and get rid of my rolls (with little effort). Sadly this was not the case! You do have to exercise (doing stuff like you'd usually do at the gym), but it is carried out on a vibrating plate i.e. I did push-ups (while my jowl and biceps wobbled) and knee-lifts (while my body rocked about and I tried to keep balance) etc. I did this at a place in Parnell, but it's available at many gyms. The trainer who took me through some drills says it's a great tool to keep your workouts interesting. This definitely is a bit wacky, but it's also an effective workout.

5. Nordic Walking:

Rachel Grunwell doing some Nordic walking at Cornwall Park. Photo / Getty Images
Rachel Grunwell doing some Nordic walking at Cornwall Park. Photo / Getty Images

Kiwis are still not yet entirely used to seeing this. Even a trainer who took me out says people sometimes yell out "but where's the snow?" It's common in places like Finland where people keep up their ski-fitness over Summer, but it's yet to fully catch on here on a big scale. It is essentially walking vigorously with poles. There are 10 correct steps to doing this right and I discovered it's actually an incredible workout for the upper and lower body that singes more calories than just walking (400 hourly compared with 280 for simple walking). So it's no simple walk in the park. It's particularly beneficial for those with conditions like Parkinson's disease because you co-ordinate the arms with the legs and poles which helps with balance, good posture and strength. It also helps extends peoples' strides and walking speed. It recommend this too for the more mature set out there.

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