9 Unconventional Exercises to Try This Year

9 Unconventional Exercises to Try This Year

Fitness & Nutrition
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The new year has arrived — have you made your resolutions yet? If you are one of the many who want to get in the best shape of your life in 2021 or merely reduce a bit of belly bulge, why not try something different? It can be easy to get into an exercise rut, which is why trying one of these unconventional exercises may be just the thing to kickstart your fitness motivation!

Even if you are a diehard gym rat, doing the same routine day after day won’t necessarily lead to fitness gains. Your body adjusts to the intensity, and you need to mix things up. Here are nine unconventional exercises to try this year to elevate your workout to new heights:

1. Yoga on a Paddleboard

If you thought getting into crow pose was challenging on land, wait until you try it on a paddleboard. Fortunately, though, if you fall, you won’t land on a hard wooden floor — you’ll make a splash.

This form of yoga can help you address any imbalances in your body. For example, if you lean to one side while performing downward-facing dog, you won’t stay upright for long. You’ll also cultivate a deeper awareness of how you wiggle around a bit even in static postures and how your breath can help maintain a sense of calm.

2. Hitting the Playground

Do you take your kids to the park several times each week? Why not use this opportunity to squeeze in an unconventional exercise routine? You can increase your cardiovascular flow, flexibility, strength and coordination while your little one does the same.

What can you do? Use the monkey bars to practice your pullups — lower sets for younger kids let you build your arm and shoulder strength if you dangle on the higher version at the gym. You can use your legs to assist you as you gradually increase your upper-body power.

Depending on your facility, you might be able to partake in activities like rope climbing. Don’t feel shy — there’s no age limit on climbing a ladder and zipping down a slide.

3. Mindful Running

When you head out for your morning laps, do you spend more time arranging your playlist than moving your feet? You can leave your headphones behind when you embrace mindful running.

Mind-body exercise is a hot “new” trend — even though practices like yoga have existed for thousands of years. Now, mindfulness is making its way into mainstream routines.

To practice mindful running, you need to shut out external distractions — including thoughts like, “If I don’t do 5 miles today, I’ve failed.” Instead, focus on the way your body feels when you pound the pavement or trail. You may discover a new joy in an old routine when you realize how exhilarating it feels to move your body free from the demands of how far and fast you should go.

4. Partial Reps

Can you get fit doing half a workout? This workout method will get you plenty sweaty and increase your muscle endurance. Adherents claim it also helps you break through plateaus.

You’ll be performing 21 total repetitions with 40% of the weight you’d use for a 10-rep set. Take squats, for example. With weights in either hand or behind your neck, go halfway down and come halfway up for seven reps.

Then, go all the way to the bottom and come halfway up for seven repetitions. Finally, perform seven full reps without resting. Increasing the time under tension using this method also blasts more calories.

5. Slide Boards

A slide board makes your workout similar to trying to perform your activity on ice. If you have mobility or balance challenges, use caution — but otherwise, this form of exercise can strengthen your core and target the tiny muscles you don’t engage in other movements.

Examples of exercises you can do include single- and double-legged mountain climbers, side lunges and pikes. When you want a cardio blast, you can speed-skate on the slippery platform.

6. Touch the Rim of a Basketball Hoop

If you habitually ride an elliptical or recumbent bike, you don’t build explosive strength. Can you jump up and touch the rim of a 10-foot basketball hoop?

Admittedly, this challenge is tougher for those who are shorter. However, it doesn’t matter if you never reach — the critical component is incorporating more explosive movement into your routine.

7. Walking Handstands

Nearly anyone can go for a walk — but can you do it on your hands? This exercise will challenge you, but it’s one of the top ways to build upper-body strength.

To begin your practice, use a wall to get yourself into a straight position. It helps to use a spotter the first few times. Make sure you clear your Ming vase collection out of the way before you begin. Falling is part of the fun, but not when you collapse into precious heirlooms.

8. Mermaid Swimming

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a tail? As it turns out, it’s a fabulous leg workout.

You might have to shop around to find a gym with a pool and the requisite equipment. However, once you don your tail, you’ll find you need your full body to propel you through the water.

9. Hula Hooping

Nearly anyone can afford a hula hoop — you can often pick them up at your local dollar store. Keep one behind the couch and whittle your waistline during commercial breaks.

You don’t have to stop with a core workout. Learn how to spin the hoop around your arms or while balancing on one leg.

Try These 9 Unconventional Exercises This Year

If you want to propel your fitness to new heights, you need to mix things up a bit. Try these nine unconventional exercises this new year and watch the results. Staying home for your workout? Explore these helpful exercise ideas.

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Jennifer Landis is a proud mama who fuels her fire with copious amounts of tea. She writes about food, family, and fitness. Find more from her at her personal blog, Mindfulness Mama and follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.