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Ten ways to get fit WITHOUT going to the GYM

Last updated on: March 30, 2012 18:12 IST

Ten ways to get fit WITHOUT going to the GYM

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Shameem Akhtar

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, gives you ten cues to a better health.

Health has to be an investment. It has to be dealt from different angles. Even if you have predominant favourite amongst your physical activities -- such as running, swimming, playing any game, trekking, cycling -- you must protect yourself from any extreme strain. This strain may happen if you take to one activity to the exclusion of all others.

For instance, just running alone -- though several runners will vouch for the runner's high -- may stress your knee joints tremendously. Combining it with Pilates or yoga will help overcome this runner's knee problem.

For more of Shameem's yoga writings visit http://jaisivananda.blogspot.com. Shameem's second book Yoga in the workplace, with photographs by ace photographer Fawzan Husain, is now available at online shops and bookshops across the country. It is also available as e-book, with Kindle, Amazon.




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1. Yoga

As a yoga instructor and practitioner, this is a health habit that I recommend vociferously. It combines several activities all at once -- aerobics, cardio work-out, resistance training, balance training. It can both be gentle and rigorous, depending on the degree of intensity you ask of it.

You do not need anybody to train you, except in the initially stage of your training. You also do not need much gear to train. It is both relaxing and stimulating. But most important of all, it is healing. It is a complete health package.


Photographs: Shameem Akhtar
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2. Balance board

Balance training is an exciting form of exercise. Initially, it can be intimidating. But usually it can be phased into your training, if you are doing other types of exercise. Or it  can be an exclusive form of training in itself. A balance board should do be all the investment you need.

An Indian balance board can be bought for as cheap as Rs 500. The branded ones may cost up to Rs 20,000.

You may initially need an expert to train you in their usage. Once you gain confidence you can pick more exercise tricks and moves. This will keep you excited about regular practice. Balance  work-out involves subtle muscles, fine co-ordination of the eye-limb, involves the cerebellum.

It is more than a physical exercise and boost mental focus.


Photographs: DavidMaisel/Wikimedia Commons
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3. Bosu Ball

A Bosu ball made in India could cost up to Rs 5,000. They  demand a lot from you, by completely challenge your sense of balance. But this is what makes work out on them very exciting. The same basic moves you do otherwise -- push-ups, or standing stretches --  may be attempted on it.

But the simple moves become rigorous when attempted on it, so that you never get bored repeating sets.

The interesting thing about the Bosu Ball is that both sides may be used. Either way, your muscles are supremely tested, making it a very strenuous and exciting form of fitness.


Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

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4. Brisk walking

This is the most inexpensive route to health. You do not even need to buy a pass to the local park! You just need a clear route that you wish to take, ideally in the morning. If you wish or get bored with the ritual of walking, strapping some music on to your ears will give it some zest.

The pace must be fast, though that should be phased. Shoes should be strong to soften the pounding that the heels and ankles will feel. If you are walking in a park, you may, walk backwards for a few feet. Walking backwards is said to burn more calories and also engages the mind completely, improving balance and co-ordination.

If possible try brisk walking uphill.  This is more challenging to the heart, which is a good thing, thus improving overall stamina.


Photographs: Philip Brown/Reuters
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5. Gym ball training

A gym ball may be placed with the other balance training equipment. The rates of these vary, but it is best to  buy a branded product. Most of the yoga poses may be attempted with a gym ball. It improves nerve reflexes, balance, strength training and  builds core strength. It can be a very challenging work-out, even if only done for a few minutes.

Its impact is similar to the Bosu Ball.


Photographs: Shameem Akhtar

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6. Resistance bands and belts

Resistance bands can be more effective than the machines in a gym. The latter  develop big muscle groups. Unless you are seeking to bulk up (in which case machines are better) you should opt for resistance bands for the lean, mean, hard look that is currently the vogue.

A simple band can provide very intense training. Some good branded ones can be picked up even at your local chemist or sports shop. There are various types of resistance bands and belts with different degrees of intensity.

Start with a low intensity band, and work up to hard core one.


Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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7. Belt work

These are basically canvas belts and used largely for training in balance and flexibility, both of which can add an exciting quotient to your overall health.

Most of the yoga stretches may be attempted with these bands. They are inexpensive and cost as little as Rs 250 at local stores.


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8. Medicine balls

Medicine balls are bought according to the weight that you wish to train in -- starting from 2 kgs on. For normal workout, you may go up to five kgs if you are already strong and wish to build on existing strenght. The small, tiny ones start from a price of Rs 300 upwards.

The five-kg one costs around Rs 2,500. You can use it to train upper back and core strength. There are exciting moves with medicine ball which engages more than muscles.

Your hand-eye co-ordination shoots up marvellously. It is a very exciting practice. Floor exercises that require you to hold the balls with your legs will strengthen and tone them.

With medicine balls, repeating the same moves never palls due to the challenge they offer. 


Photographs: Shameem Akhtar
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9. Skipping

It is the most inexpensive form of work-out. Of course, not recommended if you are starting on this sort of training late in life or with any knee injury (it stresses these joints). Even a few minutes of skipping can workout your heart powerfully, boost breathing, tone your whole body and give you a high.

You will find that a good bout of skipping adds to other abs workout you do, by toning your core muscles. If you like skipping, combine it with stretches and moves that also tone your pelvic muscles. Skipping can weaken them if you do not take care.


Photographs: Shameem Akhtar
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10. Martial arts

This needs a trainer. You can also attend a local class. Always chose a form that suits your personality. Instead of trying different types of martial arts or learning from someone who is combining several forms, try to be loyal to one martial arts form for perfect tone.

This is a powerful practice, combining several types of exercise that form part of its preparatory ritual and cool-down. The workout itself, if classical, will tone your stomach powerfully.


Photographs: Shameem Akhtar
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