Keep it together
Why does Zumba make people smile?
Researchers are finding even the laziest of couch potatoes train harder and enjoy exercise more in a group than they do alone. And these days there are plenty of sociable ways to exercise, even if the closest you want to be to a gym is watching Olivia Newton-John's Physical on YouTube. Here's a sample of the latest trends.
Dance Dance Party Party
No boys, no booze, no judgment, no talking. Oh - and no instructors. Dance Dance Party Party is billed as the nightclub that's good for you: 90 minutes of dancing to feel-good tracks ranging from Paul Simon to Chemical Brothers to Florence and the Machine. Clubbing in gym clothes on a weekday evening might feel odd at first but, with no one barking instructions, participants tend to lose their inhibitions fast. And if it's a while since you danced sober, don't worry: it takes place in a darkened room. See dancedancepartyparty.com for details.
Yet to find your perfect training session? Maybe you need to combine a couple. Hybrid sports aren't a new idea: mixed martial arts such as kickboxing have been around for decades. But an unusual number of newbies are currently headed for our shores. Piloxing - Pilates meets boxing (piloxing.com) - is designed to build strength and flexibility; Aerobarre (aerospacenyc.com) melds boxing with ballet for a hardcore workout; and body juggling (tai chi, yoga and acrobatics - see bodyjugglingweightloss.com) - may have a ridiculous name, but its group-synchronised moves will push you to push yourself.
The green workout
Get outdoors, hang out with friends and achieve something. With Green Gym, teams of up to 10 participants are set tasks that benefit the environment as well as their hip-to-waist ratios, from tree planting and digging out flower beds to gentler activities such as weeding and walking. Launched by Conservation Volunteers Australia, the fresh-air initiative should improve your mood, too - recent research undertaken by the University of Newcastle found that people who interact with nature cope with stress better and are more productive. Find out more at conservationvolunteers.com.au.
Appy and healthy
Social fitness doesn't just mean exercising together any more. Apps such as RunKeeper allow users to log their workouts and share progress with friends via Facebook and Twitter. DailyBurn allows users to share tips or offer support, while Couch to 5K not only links to your friends but integrates with your music collection. For cyclists, iMapMyRIDE tracks and shares your time, distance, speed, pace and elevation, and Social Gym will do the same for gym bunnies. Or take things a step further: OptumizeMe allows you to set healthy living challenges for yourself and your friends, ranging from eating the most vegetables to yoga class attendance. All are available from iTunes (apple.com) or Android Market (market.android.com).
Sometimes it's more fun to work out with friends.
From: Sunday Life