Warm up by walking at a moderate pace for about five minutes. Then, to really get your blood flowing, add in intervals by alternating two minutes of vigorous walking with a one-minute recovery stroll. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, Cardiello suggests using the “talk test” to determine how fast you should be going: At peak effort, you shouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation. Repeat the intervals as many times as you can.
Originally developed in China as a means of self defense, this gentle exercise is—much like yoga—a moving meditation. Multiple studies show a fight stress, reduce pain, prevent falls and stave off depression. Compared to yoga, it burns an additional 100 calories an hour. To find a teacher or class, contact the American Tai Chi Association.
Jumping rope for 10 minutes is equivalent to jogging at a slow pace for 30, says Jon Hinds, owner and founder of Monkey Bar Gymnasiums, which specialize in bodyweight training and functional fitness (i.e., no weight benches or machines). Not only is your entire body fully engaged, but you must also maintain a constant rhythm to keep the rope moving. If jumping rope is not your forte, start off by simulating the cardiovascular activity without an actual jump rope and focus on technique by jumping up and down and moving your wrists in small circles. Then, when you’re ready, use a light jump rope for conditioning and to build endurance. To increase your speed, build more muscle and cut more fat, switch to a weighted rope.
Also called Stand Up Paddle Surfing, this emerging sport is a great way to get a workout on any substancial body of water—no waves required. Beginner boards tend to be longer, wider and flatter than traditional surf boards, making them easier to balance on. But the addition of the paddles is what makes this sport a killer ab workout. For more information check out the World Paddle Association website.
Co-founded by former Ironman triathlete Bryan Pate and ultramarthoner Brent Teal, the ElliptiGo takes all the advantages of an elliptical machine—from the great low-impact cardiovascular conditioning, to the lower body muscle-building and core strengthening—and makes them mobile. Not sure if the ElliptiGo is right for you? Take one for a test ride; the company has 70 dealer locations nationwide ($2,499; elliptigo.com).
Challenge yourself by signing up for a bike-riding event in your area. Go to BikeReg.com for listings of upcoming cycling events across the country. Or, for a more social approach, go to MeetUp.com to find people in your neighborhood who’d want to join you on a group ride. You’ll meet like-minded folks and strengthen your heart, legs and core at the same time.
Because rollerblading involves the same repetitive movements as the Cardio Wave—using your core, glutes and legs to push back and away—it makes a great substitution during warmer months. Practice balance and coordination, but don’t coast too often: You’ll burn more calories if you keep your muscles engaged. And remember to wear protective gear, like a helmet, kneepads and wrist guards, to avoid injury.
Step up on a park bench to work your legs and glutes, suggests celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza. Start with your right foot on the bench and step up until it is nearly straight, lifting your left foot off the ground. Slowly lower, placing your left foot and then your right foot back on the ground. Repeat 10 to 20 times based on your fitness level and then switch legs. Do 2 to 3 sets of each. Be sure to step up through your heel to work out the back of your leg as well as your quads, says Braganza.
Sick of getting stuck behind a slow stroker in a pool the size of a bathtub? Leave your lane assignment and that awful stench of chlorine behind and head for the nearest lake, ocean or river. You'll still burn more than 400 calories an hour, but will also get the added benefit of extra space and peace and quiet. Miss the competition? Enter an open water swimming race or get your feet wet at your first triathlon.
To work your chest and back muscles as you would on a rowing machine, wrap a resistance band around the trunk of a tree (or have a friend hold the other end), and do reverse flies and chest presses, suggests Braganza. For your first set, face the tree. Hold the band in each hand, extend your arms out to the side (about chest height) and gently pull the band slightly back and towards you as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for two counts then release. Repeat 10 to 20. After a short rest, switch to chest presses by turning your back to the tree. Start with your arms at chest level and extend them straight forward until your elbows are fully extended but not locked. Pause momentarily, then slowly bring arms back to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 20 times. Do 2 to 3 sets of each exercise.
Place your hands on the bench shoulder-width apart and extend your legs behind you, says Braganza. Bend your elbows until your chin is a couple of inches away from the bench and push off as you would with a regular pushup. Do as many as you can, then rest and do another set or two until exhaustion.
Not only does rock climbing simulate the same physical motions as the VersaClimber, but it's also an equally effective full-body workout. Outdoor climbing develops muscular strength and endurance and torches a whopping 748 calories an hour. The planning and mental focus it takes to complete a set route also provides a brain boost the VersaClimber can't. Find scalable rocks at rockclimbing.com or visit your local indoor climbing gym to find out who runs guided climbs near you.
Use two water bottles (or light dumbbells) to do two to three sets of 20 shoulder presses. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Hold your arms at shoulder length in a 90-degree angle. Then extend your arms straight up and return to your starting position. Braganza likes to combine shoulder presses with squats for a compound exercise that burns more calories.
Using a BOSU—the half rubber dome, half stability platform training device—is a quick way to add core and balance work to exercises such as squats and pushups, but wouldn't you rather be at the beach? Learn to hang ten and you'll not only strengthen your stabilizer muscles, but you'll also tone your shoulders and arms each time you paddle out to catch another wave. Pick up the pace and the quick bursts of cardiovascular work will zap fat like an interval routine. Don't live near water? Consider vacationing at a surf camp like Pura Vida Adventures in Costa Rica. Read what happened when Tierza Davis-Eichner, a former dot-comer, did just that.
Ditch your group class and grab a hula hoop: Sashaying your hips from side to side burns between 300 and 600 calories in just one hour while building core strength, stamina, and muscle tone as your skill increases. The fitness hoops made by companies like Hoopnotica are adult-sized and slightly weighted to make your new workout easier to master. Get the basics down pat before you head outdoors with instructional DVDs or online personal training sessions ($49.99 for travel hoop and 1 DVD; hoopnotica.com).
Like the fun, camaraderie and accountability classes such as total body conditioning and Zumba provide? Get the same benefits by joining a team sport. As an added bonus, by switching up your routine, you may end up challenging ignored muscles, which helps prevent fitness plateaus. Women ages 20 to 47 who started playing soccer twice a week experienced improved balance and muscle strength, according to studies published in Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Compared to women that only ran, they also reversed their bone loss by up to six years. Find a soccer, volleyball, softball—even kickball!—league near you at active.com.
Eliminate the need for an instructor by unrolling a TrainerMat. Each one comes printed with 10 Pilates exercises, as well as an instructional DVD in case you need to prefect your form first. After purchase you can download additional videos online for free ($29.99; trainermat.com).