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Move With Joy: Non-Traditional Exercises That Put the Fun in Fitness

illustration of stick figures doing exercises

If you're filled with fear whenever someone invites you to the gym, you're not alone. The gym anxiety and loathing that some people feel come from a fraught relationship with exercise that increases as we transition into adulthood. The ideal solution is non-traditional or unconventional exercises or approaching working out from a different angle. 

The problem starts when we picture exercise as compulsory—a required activity meant to burn off a set number of calories or a mechanism for meeting arbitrary body ideals. We end up attempting to navigate complicated routines and focusing on not enjoying what we're doing, making us more likely to opt out altogether.

So, what's the solution? Embracing the philosophy of joyful movement. 

Joyful movement is about finding physical activities that make you happy and permitting yourself to move your body in a way that truly feels good. You're more likely to participate when you relate exercise to pleasure instead of punishment.

This doesn't mean there isn't a place for long-distance runs, squats, or weightlifting if that brings you joy. When embracing joyful movement, all types of movement are valid. Everyone has different abilities and preferences, and your choice should reflect that. 

Just be sure to assess your motivation for each movement and distinguish which positively impacts your physicality, mental health, and self-confidence. The point is to move for yourself, not just move numbers on a scale.

If you're ready to reframe your mindset and make working out feel like play again, try these ideas for non-traditional workouts and unconventional exercises to find the joy in moving your body.


Turn movement into a meditative experience with an iteration of yoga. Yoga is more than just a physical exercise; it’s an invitation to explore the depths of yourself, find balance and harmony, and nurture your overall well-being. So, step onto your mat, open your heart, and embark on a transformative journey that can profoundly change your body, mind, and spirit. 

Let yoga guide you toward a life of vitality, serenity, and inner fulfillment. Kickstart your morning with sunrise yoga, or combine the healing powers of exercise and animals with a goat yoga class.

Social Sports 

Take up a team sport or activity, like tennis, pickleball, volleyball, or flag football, to get in shape and connect with your community. Engaging in team sports delivers a well-rounded workout, boosting cardiovascular endurance, strength, agility, and coordination. 

The dynamic nature of these sports keeps you on your toes, continuously pushing your abilities while fostering a sense of excitement and friendly competition. So, you'll not only reap physical benefits but mental and social ones, too.

Wondering what the hype about pickleball is all about? Check out our article, "What Is Pickleball & Why Is It So Popular?

Fun Runs

Lacing up and hitting the pavement can sound complicated, but fun runs make it easier. Themed races, like the Color Run or the Bubble Run, are guaranteed to keep a smile on your face as you trek to the finish line.

These runs are organized events prioritizing enjoyment, participation, and a light-hearted atmosphere over competitive racing. These events are often designed to be inclusive, welcoming participants of all ages, fitness levels, and running abilities.

It doesn’t matter if you're a seasoned runner looking for a change of pace, or simply seeking a fun and active outing with friends and family, participating in a fun run can be a fantastic way to merge fitness and community spirit into a single event.

Water Sports

Burn calories and bring back memories of summer days spent splashing around with water sports. Water sports offer a gateway to a world of playfulness, fitness, and adventure. 

Whether you aim to unwind, create cherished memories, or embrace the thrill of daring dives, these activities promise a revitalizing and unforgettable experience. Try paddle boarding or kayaking to remedy stress or attempt to perfect your cannonball off the high dive.

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing is a thrilling sport that combines physical challenge with awe-inspiring accomplishment. It's a versatile sport that you can do inside or outside. 

Rock climbing is an excellent option for people who want a low-impact, exploratory activity that blends strategy with strength. You have to rely on yourself to solve the puzzle of finding the best way to climb and use your agility and strength to get you to the top. 

It's also an incredible opportunity to create a community with fellow climbers who support each other as climbing levels get more complex. 

Jumping Rope

orange jump rope on yellow and pink background

Don't underestimate the effectiveness of a Double Dutch session. Jumping rope is a high-intensity exercise with low impact. Plus, it can be an entertaining and challenging way to break a sweat and enhance coordination in one place. It's also great for: 

Hula Hooping

Honor your inner child and use this simple equipment to add fun to your fitness routine. At the same time, you'll strengthen your cardiovascular system and core muscles and improve your balance.

Roller Skating

blue roller skates with hot pink laces

Roller skating is an exhilarating form of exercise that offers a wide range of physical and mental benefits. So, dust off your skates, helmet, and elbow pads, and get rolling for some fresh air and a full-body, endurance-building workout.


Music is ideal for getting motivated and lifting your spirits. Whether it's an instructor-led Zumba class or you're breaking it down in the privacy of your own home, dancing is a sure-fire way to elevate your heart rate and mood. 

It's also good for balance and coordination, which results in long-term health benefits. 

Discover the Joy of Non-Traditional Exercise

Exploring non-traditional exercise options opens exciting possibilities for staying active and achieving better health. By breaking away from conventional routines and opting for unconventional exercises, you can discover diverse activities to fit your interests, fitness levels, and personal preferences. So, let's break free from the ordinary and pursue another form of exercise!