Talk Like a Local: Obscure Exercise Around the World

Talk Like a Local — By Alexi Ueltzen on September 2, 2009 at 10:13 am

The term “jogging” was introduced to the English-speaking world in 1593 in William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. The idea of running as exercise didn’t really take hold until the 1600s, during which a small, eccentric portion of the population continued to practice it, until it really blew up in the 1960s. Sports teams and athletes referred to it as “roadwork” up to that point, but then New Zealanders resuscitated Shakespeare’s timeless phrase and brought “jogging” back for good.

While jogging is probably here to stay, there are plenty of other people out there creating new, interesting and really weird forms of exercise every day. Want to be able to talk about the latest exercise fad next time you’re abroad? Read on. And get ready to be impressed.

Vibration Training
Developed in Chelsea, London, this treadmill-like vibrating platform claims to improve bone density, burn fat and cellulite, improve flexibility and decrease joint pain. The trend is sweeping Europe, and is just now making its way to Canada and the US. Honestly, if 15 minutes on this thing really is equivalent to an hour of the elliptical, sign me up. We could all use some increased serotonin levels.

Nude Hiking
Germany and Switzerland (namely, the little town of Alpenzell) have been seeing increasing numbers of nude hikers in recent years. Disregarding all clothing (with the exception of hiking boots), these in-the-buff hikers pepper hillsides in all seasons. Yes, ALL seasons. Some believe that nude hiking should be banned, while others feel that would be an infringement on their rights. We say, use sunscreen.

Anti-gravity Yoga
Another British trend, this new take on yoga uses soft hammocks and instructs participants on gentle suspension techniques that “relieve compressed joints and align the body.” Originally developed for gymnasts, it combines yoga, pilates, dance and calisthenics. Plus, it just looks fun. Along with the UK, classes can be found in San Francisco and New York.

Mindful walking
Walking+meditation = mindful walking. It’s like taking Rover for a stroll around the block, only there’s no dog, no ipod, you focus on your breathing, repeat a mantra and preferably walk in circles. Who knew you could improve “going for a walk”? Americans, that’s who.

Kettlebell training
While most exercise fads promote themselves as the newest and most advanced, the Russians have taken it decidedly old-school with their increased interest in kettlebell training. Basically a cannonball with a handle, users swing, lift and squat with the weight. Kettlebell lifting is the national sport of Russia, but classes utilizing the kettlebells are cropping up around the world.

Hulaerobics
Not just for 6 year-olds anymore! Classes and instructional DVDs take participants through a series of moves that strengthen the core, improve balance and tone muscles. Begun in the UK and gaining popularity worldwide, we’re hoping the Hulaerobics fad doesn’t fade into obscurity, much like the original Hula mania of the 1950s.

Parkour
Want to know how to jump over a building? You should try Parkour, also known as “free running.” The sport (more of a martial art, really), began in France and focuses on moving from one point to another as smoothly as possible. It also promotes the mindset that no obstacle is insurmountable. You might recognize it from the opening scene of Casino Royale.

[Vibration photo: Fivestar Fitness; yoga photo: AntiGravity Yoga; Hula photo: HubPages]

Tags: bizarre, Europe, exercise, free running, hiking, hula, hulaerobics, jogging, kettlebell, nude, parkour, slang, training, UK

    3 Comments

  • Mike Uehara-Bingen says:

    Nude hiking? I agree that sunscreen should be used… but that seems likely to lead to things other than hiking, and so it might defeat the purpose. Just sayin’.

  • Mitchell Armbrester says:

    Lots of Good information in your post, I bookmarked your site so I can visit again in the future, Cheers

  • Silas Medvec says:

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