If you’re like me, running on the treadmill multiple times a week can get a little stale. There are only so many days in a row that I can turn up my favorite song and run in place (Yes, I could run outside for a change in scenery, but it’s freezing. I’ll try that in May).
Maybe you’re still trying to fulfill your New Year’s Resolution or maybe you’re just looking to shake up your usual workout routine, but here’s a list (in no particular order) of three alternatives to cardio machines to get your daily dose of exercise.
Zumba was honestly one of the most fun workouts I’ve done. If you enjoy dancing around your room, you’ll probably enjoy it as well. I took a class through Harvard Recreation (free for students!) and basically vibed to really good music for an hour. It’s a mix of kind of jumping around and actual dance moves, but at least in the Harvard class, there wasn’t anything too complicated. Also, most people are too focused on getting their own moves right, so no worries if you’re truly hopeless at dancing.
Harvard has classes for this too, but I went to Flywheel (your first class is free!) I was sort of shocked at myself that it had taken this long to end up in a cycling class, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. Once I figured out how to attach the shoe to the pedal (an unusually complicated process), the actual class was really high energy, and it was easy to forget the “work” part of the exercise. I would’ve thought peddling in one place for an hour would be torture, but the class aspect negates some of that. With music and someone directing you to speed up or slow down, there’s enough variety to be interested and engaged.
I said this list wasn’t in any order, but barre might be my favorite of the three. I’ve taken barre at a couple of different places, both through Harvard and professional studios; honestly, the Harvard classes are pretty on par with some of the others I’ve gone to. Barre is essentially a combination of pilates and ballet moves. There’s a big emphasis on small, controlled movements, and it is surprisingly painful. There were several times throughout my first ever class where my legs burned and I felt like I couldn’t physically move anymore. This is part of what makes barre so enjoyable for me though; it works out muscles that don’t usually get attention in a typical cardio workout, and you really start to notice a difference in muscle tone after just a few weeks.