When we were kids, exercise was actually fun and made us the fittest we’ve ever been. So we’ve found some grown-up versions of our old-school favourites to help return you to your former glory.
By Laura Rogers
Remember the days when you grazed your knees playing non-stop hopscotch in the playground? Scrambled over climbing frames? And doggy-paddled your way through swimming club? Back then, we had keeping fit all sussed out and didn’t even know it.
“Playing is such a wonderful way of looking at exercise because it changes it in your mind from a chore to something you really look forward to,” says James Duigan, trainer to The Saturdays’ Mollie and the eternally trim Elle Macpherson.
Old school your exercise regime with some totally fun, updated retro workouts. Last one there is a rotten egg!
Although we’re still not sure why we had to jump in with our PJs on to retrieve a brick from the bottom of the pool, it was definitely good for our health. Swimming is one of the best all-round exercises. James is still a fan of using what he calls “sinkers” with his clients as a great way to mix up cardio and toning.
You’d get some funny looks if you jumped into the pool wearing clothes these days, so try new craze Aqua Zumba instead. “Aqua Zumba is all about having a party in the pool,” says Gillian Reeves, national group exercise manager for Virgin Active Health Clubs. “It’s great for strength and cardio as you work against the water.”
Swim off 300-500 calories in 40 minutes.
We properly hearted the sound of the school bell at lunchtime. Especially when the equipment came out and you’d nab a hula hoop. Or 10. “Playing hula hoop and skipping were fantastic because you were learning new skills,” says James. “You’d not only burn calories, but engage your nervous system as you concentrated.” Clever.
School yards are out, and dedicated classes are in with heavier hula hoops and faster skipping. “I use weighted hoops with my clients, which really engages the core and the abdominals,” says James. “We also skip as it improves coordination, corrects posture, burns fat and works the abs.” Bag a skipping rope and teach yourself some new workout tricks at Skip-hop.co.uk. Or find a local hula-hoop class at Ukhoopdatabase.org.
In 40 minutes you can hula or skip away 500-plus calories.
We’d cringe during our country dancing lesson as we were forced to hold sweaty little hands with, gulp, a boy and prance around to the old-fashioned folk tunes. “I remember absolutely hating country dancing at high school because it was so old-fashioned, plus the music was awful,” says Kali Fraser, director of the East Midlands branch of dance class, Ceroc UK. But while it was totally embarrassing, it was pretty good for getting your heart rate up.
Ceroc is a super-cool, ultra-sociable, full-on cardiovascular workout, and it’s sweeping the nation. A blend of salsa, ballroom, hip hop, tango, and jive – phew – you can dance the night away in style while fighting the flab. “You get a huge calorie burn from the aerobic exercise,” says Kali. “Plus it’s a really fun night out and you make great friends.” You may even meet a boy you actually want to hold hands with. To find a class near you check out Ceroc.com.
Dance off 350-450 calories in 40 minutes.
King of the swingers
Back when your mum made you a packed lunch, just clambering all over the climbing frame gave you a fantastic workout using muscles you didn’t know you had. “Kids put in a lot of effort because they’re so excited by life,” explains fitness and nutrition expert, Steve Mellor. “Their unbridled competitive nature also makes them expend far more energy.”
Reawaken your inner Tarzan, and swing through the trees on a Go Ape treetop adventure course, which has 28 sites across the UK (Goape.co.uk). You’ll have fun at 50ft, while your body works at a steady 50-60 per cent of your maximum heart rate, helping to increase your fitness levels. “It’ll bring back the fear and excitement factor too,” says Steve. “This gives you a big endorphin rush, which is great for your mood and for sorting you out with a restful night’s sleep afterwards.”
Blast 510 calories on a 100-120 minute course.
Your annual family trip to a Hi-De-Hi! style holiday camp somewhere in deepest, darkest Bognor was the perfect excuse for summer loving with the lads from caravan 32. And as you impressed them with your rounders skills in the great outdoors, you were toning up, soaking up the sun and showcasing your excellent bat-and-ball skills.
Replace caravans with a plush fitness break at Adventure Yoga Retreats in Portugal. You’ll get beach fit with two yoga sessions a day plus one meditation class. The trip costs £465 per person for seven nights, including teaching, accommodation and two meals a day. Call 0033 63330 8230 for information. “Outdoors exercise seriously invigorates you as it boosts vitamin D levels and endorphins,” says Steve. For a cheaper experience in Blighty, pop over to one of the Champneys spas, which offer two-night, four-night and week-long specialist breaks (from £349.95 per person, Champneys.com).
Say “see ya” to 144 calories with an hour-long yoga sesh on the sand.