Sleeping, going to the bathroom, having conversations — these are things I like to do alone. Exercise, on the other hand, has just never been one of them. To me there’s nothing as exciting as bringing a pal to my favorite yoga class or bonding with fellow dancing queens and kings during a ballet barre workout.
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I’m always on the lookout for new ways to exercise in a group, especially activities that don’t feel like the awesome workout they really are. Here we’ve rounded up 24 group workouts as varied as Dance Dance Revolution, kayaking, and the Suzuki acting method (hint: it involves a lot of stomping). For those who prefer a solo workout sesh or love being part of a team, there’s bound to be something for everyone.
1. Hike it out. Trail mix, swanky boots, a great tan… oh, right, and a serious workout. On a free weekend, get a group of friends together and head for a beautiful outdoor trail. 2. Kick it on a kayak. Row, row, row that boat. Every stroke is another step toward physical fitness. An unexpected low-impact workout, kayaking is a perfect way to appreciate the Great Outdoors while strengthening the arms and core and burning hundreds of calories. 3. Make waves. The crash of the waves against jagged rocks, the splash of foam against the sides of the rubber boat, and no one’s thinking about the unbelievable health benefits of white water rafting. 4. Bust out the bike. There’s nothing like feeling the wind in your hair and seeing it in someone else’s. Biking is great for cardiovascular health, building muscles, and even strengthening the immune system. 5. Rock on. Talk about trust-building exercises. Try dangling from a cliff (in appropriate equipment, of course) and waiting for someone to grab your hand. Beginners might want to start on an indoor rock wall and then move on to the real thing.
6. Pretty up the park. Parks all over the world are always looking for volunteers, so sign up today to help preserve nature. Whether it’s carrying heavy trash bags or squatting to pull trash from a lake, saving the earth is a group effort and a team workout. 7. Keep it green. Go green and make friends with the trees. You can even make friends with some people, too, while caring for trees or planting new ones. 8. Run for someone’s life. For those who haven’t heard, running is a great form of exercise. And there’s even more motivation to run when it’s part of a social good effort. Forget that “I think I can” mantra — there are a ton of charitable causes worth running for. 9. Be a bro (or sis). If exercising for your own health isn’t good enough, try working out for someone else’s. The Big Brother/Big Sister Sports Buddies group partners adults and kids who bond over basketball, soccer, and other kinds of activities. 10. Do it for the dogs. One of the biggest benefits of having a dog is getting some exercise while walking them all over town. 11. Get workin’ at the car wash. Scrubbing, bending, and climbing to get those wheels squeaky clean might be just as much of a workout as hitting the treadmill for a few minutes.
12. Om out. Partner yoga is based on the importance of touch — and we’re talking the PG kind here. So bring a pal (or prepare to make some new ones) and find a class near you. 13. Never let ’em see you sweat. Self-defense classes help prepare the mind and body against potential threats. Learn from the instructor and from classmates while getting a great workout. 14. Find your chi. For a slower style of exercise, try Qi Gong. It’s an ancient Chinese meditation practice that focuses on breath and balance. 15. Synch or swim. Is there anything that says “team effort” more than a group of people in identical outfits doing the same dance routine? Synchronized swimming isn’t just for ladies in pink bathing caps — it’s an Olympic sport!
16. Dance like everyone’s watching. Travel to Spain, India, or the mean streets with a dance workout like tango, bhangra, break dancing, or Zumba. Learning some new moves is a great way to get a glimpse of another culture and meet new buds, all while getting in some serious cardio . 17. Be a tourist, oui? Those double-decker buses may look fancy, but for the real workout, hop off and hoof it! Grab the friends, the fam, and any stragglers on the street and see the sights on foot. 18. Step up to Suzuki. This Japanese method of drama training isn’t as well-known as say, puppet shows, but some actors swear by it. The exercises focus on the whole body, so there’s lots of moving to music, shouting, and bonding with fellow confused classmates. 19. Make history. For history nerds (er, experts), reenacting the Civil War or the Oregon Trail is just about the coolest thing ever. No one took cabs or trains back in the day, so be prepared for a lot of walking, running, and gallant galloping on horses.
20. What’s up, Wii? We’re not advising anyone to become a tech-lovin’ shut-in, but some Wii sports can make a big difference in cardiovascular fitness. The games are way more exciting with a friend, so grab a pal, get into some workout gear, and prepare to get pumped up. 21. Roll out. All you need’s a scrunchie and some pogs and you’ll be traveling back to the 90s in no time. Roller blading may not be the latest craze anymore, but any kind of inline skating is a great workout for the arms and legs and an even better bonding activity. 22. Be a baller. The shoes are cool, the pizza’s deliciously gross, and the arcade prizes are tempting. Bowling alleys are great for some laid-back hangout time that doesn’t involve vegging out in front of the tube. 23. Start a revolution. A Dance Dance Revolution, that is. There’s no better way to bond with friends than competing to see who’s got hotter moves. Shake it like a Polaroid picture in public with other gamers or forgo the potential humiliation and snag the Wii version. 24. Pick it up. For those who wish we still played stickball out on the street, here’s the answer. A bunch of different apps, like Sportaneous, show users where pick-up sports games are happening, so they can hit the baseball field, tennis court, or basketball hoops when the urge hits.