5 Great Ways to Cross-Train

I’m a terrible cross-trainer. I’ve mentioned that a few times in the past. Running just comes so naturally easy for me that the thought of doing anything else is crazy to me. However, I know that running every day isn’t ideal, at least for me. Sometimes my body isn’t up to any distance. Sometimes my heart just isn’t into it. During these times is when I seek cross-training. Videos are typically my go-to but I love finding other ways to “break a sweat” they are fun and don’t feel like a workout while doing it.

sky zone

Photo credit: Sky Zone

  • Trampolining. Nothing brought me more joy as a child than jumping on a trampoline. There was just something so enticing about feeling like you’re flying for a brief moment. I haven’t jumped on a trampoline in ages…I think the last time I was on one I was 16. Then, about 2 years ago I was trying to find toddler friendly activities for me to do with my daughter. Sky Zone out here in Columbia popped up on my search. They offered a special time block during the week for young children (5 years and under) and it was rather affordable ($7/child for 3 hrs of jumping). It was a complete blast and afterwards I found myself sweating and out of breath quite a bit. I also also quite sore the following day. Trampolining works muscles out while minimizing the impact on the joints. It’s an all-over workout since you’re using your core to stabilize yourself, legs to…well..jump, and arms to help gain momentum and move from square to square. More importantly, it fun!  Some places offer fitness classes at the facilities (Sky Zone does) so you can even join a class for a more structured workout. I, however, love the sponteniety of just showing up and doing whatever you feel like. In my case it’s keeping up with 2 young ones 😆.

Photo Credit: Rollablading.com

  • Rollerblading.  Okay, stick with me on this one.  I know it’s not the 90s anymore but blading never gets old!  Talk about working your core, quads, and arms.  There’s a lot of movement involved to gain momentum while blading.  It’s fairly low impact (as long as you’re not trying to do some stunts with them) and you can go far fast.  I especially enjoy the wind in my face while blading, something you don’t quite get while running unless it’s, well, windy.  I also recently discovered that you can “ski” while you blade.  Basically, they’re called roller skis and they mimic cross-country skiing sans the snow.  There’s even endurance blading…similar to training for marathons but on blades!
Attendees play the Dance Central 2 for the Xbox 360 Kinect during the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles

Photo Credit: Reuters

  • Video Games.  So, playing a video game sounds like the exact opposite of being active, right?  Well, it’s old news but there are a few exercise related games.  The games I use are the ones I use with my Xbox Kinect.  We haven’t upgraded in this house since 2013 so we still have a 360 and the games to go with it.  All the Kinect games require you to move so any game is ideal.  My personal favorite is Dance Central.  I typically start off on the easy level because it takes me a while to get used to moving again (such a shame considering I used to be a dancer in my younger years).  I cap off at intermediate for most because the advanced level is hard.  It may seem silly to dance in front of a TV but man can it kick your butt!  I know that the days following I tend to have a sore core since I’m not used to challenging those stability muscles.  Give it a try!  It’s a lot of fun and it makes the “workout time” go by quickly.

A new, fun way to climb here in MD!  Climb Zone.  Photo Credit: The Washington Post.

  • Rock Climbing.  I tried rock climbing for the first time my freshman year of college.  It’s easy to say I got hooked.  Rock climbing challenges you in many ways.  It requires flexibility in order to reach hand and foot holds.  Naturally, it challenges your strength as you have to use your muscles to hang on.  You can get quite fatigued after a few short minutes if you’re not used to climbing.  Every muscle is used in some way or another so you’re guaranteed a full-body workout.  I know the strangest aches I’ve experienced in the days following climbing are in my hands.  Your don’t realize how weak your grip strength is until the days following a climb.  Now, don’t get intimidated by outdoor rock climbing.  If that’s too extreme for you, there’s always a chance there’s an indoor climbing gym nearby.  Those are great for beginners as they have walls for varying skill levels in a controlled environment.

One of our favorite local parks, Fort Smallwood Park.  Photo Credit: Me!

  • Playgrounds.  If you have children, another option you could use as a cross-training workout is the playground!  Now, I don’t mean go to the playground with the mindset that you will follow a structured workout.  Go to the playground with your children and play with them!  You’d be surprised how quickly playing with them can wear you out.  My daughter is a huge fan of climbing and balancing so you’ll often find her climbing a net or crossing platforms via stumps of varying heights and widths.  She loves it when I join in and I always find it a challenge keeping up.  Pumping those legs to swing?  Getting across the monkey bars?  Man, my memory tells me that this was a piece of cake when I was a kid.  Now?  Not so much.  When did I get so out of shape?!  Kidding, of course…sort of.  We have a great time together and I find it’s another great way to bond with her.  Plus, it lets your bring out your inner child =).

Those are just some ideas of what you can try for cross-training.  Some or all may not sound like your cup of tea but I encourage you to try one out.  You never know.  Maybe you’ll find a new favorite way to cross-train!

Do you like to cross-train?  What are some of your out-of-the-box ways to cross-train?


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