4 Seriously Fun Ways To Get Active This Year

Over mindless jogging? Sick of hearing about all those “hot” new workout tends? If you think aerial yoga is so 2016, then this is for you. Here are four seriously fun and social ways you can get yourself moving again after the stuff-yourself-silly season. Life. Be in it!

#1 Butter aerobics


Photo: Walker Art

Sounds messy right? It’s not as greasy as it sounds – the butter only gets involved at the end. Full disclosure: I found out about this from a food podcast. KCRW Good Food interviewed a hilarious duo who run a class called “Feel the Churn” in Santa Monica, California. Participants do ’80s style aerobics with jars of cream in their hands, which turns to butter after an hour long class of being shaken around.

Last time I checked (and believe me, I have checked) there are no butter aerobics classes running anywhere in Australia so here is a handy guide to hosting your own

Step 1:

Get your mitts on some vintage Aerobics Oz Style, or any other easily accessible ’80s workout vids. The more ’80s the better.

Step 2:

Get some jars with extremely good seals. Those ones with the dumb handles on the side are actually quite useful because they’re easier to keep a good grip of and less likely to accidentally fly across the room.

Step 3:

Get some cream and some fine muslin cloth for the butter, get a shiny leotard and a headband for yourself. Leg warmers optional.

Step 4:

Put on your crimes against athletic-wear, half fill your jars with cream (HALF fill only for the love of Olivia Newton-John). Crank the video, laugh so much your ribs hurt, and accidentally do a full-length aerobics class along the way. At the end of the workout the contents of your jar should be lumpy. Strain it through the muslin cloth, separating the lumps of butter from the buttermilk (you can keep the buttermilk for baking or making pancakes with). Put the jar in the fridge.

Step 5:

Eat some butter. That you made yourself.

#2 Canoe polo

First of all the name is a bit misleading, since it’s actually played in kayaks (and there are no ponies). But maybe “kayak polo” just doesn’t have the same ring to it? Think of it as a bit like water polo, but on top of the water, in kayaks.

Canoe polo can be played on any flat water like quiet rivers and bays but many prefer to play it in swimming pools, since there is a pretty good chance that you’ll spend at least some of each match upside down in the water.

Seems scary? It’s really not! Learning to roll a kayak is like learning to ride a bicycle and people are usually more than willing to teach you, especially since the sport is underrepresented here in Australia. It’s all in the flick of the hips, which makes it an unbelievably good workout for the core and especially the obliques. It’s a fast-paced game with lots of short bursts of intense activity, so it’s good for both improving your cardiovascular fitness and building strength. Manoeuvring the paddle the whole game will make it feel like your back and shoulders are on fire but will also leave you hella ripped.

You can find a training team near you through the Australian Canoe Polo Facebook page. Canoe polo club membership fees include the boats and equipment you need to play, and sometimes you need to pay pool entry too (since it often involves booking out at least half of a public pool). All in all, it’ll probably still set you back less than a gym membership.

#3 Roller derby

Roller derby is gaining a lot of traction in the mainstream. It’s a full contact sport so might be best suited to those who don’t mind an odd ­selection of mystery bruises. It’s still female-dominated, and because you play in teams it can be a great safe space to vent all the rage you built up in an afternoon of pointless meetings.

You don’t need to be a whiz on skates initially. Leagues like WA Roller Derby hold 12 week training courses for “fresh meat” to make sure that you know how to stop and fall safely before they clear you for the next level where you can receive contact. Most states have similar Roller Derby associations you can hit up for information.

If this sounds intense it’s because it is – the aim of roller derby is to help a designated member of your team, the “jammer”, to skate more laps of the track than the opposing team’s jammer. You do this by trying to knock the opposing jammer on their butt (or at least slow them down). Members of the opposing team will try to knock you on your butt to protect their jammer, and you try to knock them on their butts to protect your jammer. You get the picture. Low blows and high blows and anything involving hands and feet are banned but helmets, mouth guards, wrist guards, elbow pads and knee pads are mandatory, so that should give you a pretty good indication of the amount of stacks and face plants usually involved.

Derby can be pretty all-encompassing so it’s great for those who like to really throw themselves into their hobbies. Get a bunch of friends involved too! Making it through the fresh meat training is easier with a pre-existing support network, and you can bond over milestones like finally achieving the legendary “Derby booty” (skating is great for the glutes).

Brainstorming Derby names for each other can be heaps of fun: Aussie champs include Bambi von Smash’er and Annabelle Lecter. Plus, if you want to look glam while brutally destroying someone then Roller Derby could present a unique opportunity for you. As a blogger on DerbyLife put it, “If you want to train hard and wear fishnets and glitter, then this definitely is the sport for you.” And for extra inspiration, check out Drew Barrymore and Juliette Lewis in the roller derby blockbuster, Whip It.

#4 Competitive Table Tennis


Photo: Erik Jacobs/Flickr

“Table tennis is always competitive!” I hear you cry. Sure, sure. If you grew up with a ping pong table and a sibling then you already know it’s practically a blood sport, but for a lot of us it’s the kind of thing we play on a hot summer afternoon with a beer in one hand, lazily thwacking a ball back and forth until the sausages have spent enough time on the barbecue.

If, like me, your mind occasionally drifts off during a session on the treadmill then the kind of rapid movement and impeccable hand-eye coordination required here could be just the ticket to keep you from getting bored while you work out. Because any lapse in concentration in table tennis is swiftly punished, you might find that your ability to focus improves dramatically, which is a handy skill to have in many areas of life. Keeping on your toes – literally – improves your agility and aerobic fitness.

Word of warning, it’s really easy to fall into a YouTube hole of spectacular table tennis videos. It’s surprising how much of a full body work out it really is.

Table Tennis Australia has links on their website to the leagues in every state and territory in the country, which makes it easy for you to find a club to join. Get fit, make new friends, have something interesting to write down next time you’re scratching your head over the hobbies section of your CV. Added bonus: you’ll be undisputed champ of the table next time a casual ping pong opportunity presents itself.

Yvonne Buresch is a Perth-based freelance writer whose favourite hobbies include going out for breakfast and lying perfectly still after having eaten too much breakfast. You can find her on Twitter @cakey_face.

Lead image: Gomisan/Flickr