What do you think of when you hear the word fitness? Or workout plans? Or exercise routines?
It most likely includes expensive equipment, pricey workout apparel and the unrelatable results mainstream fitness often promises.
Fitness marketing and advertising has changed the definition of fitness into something that really doesn’t work for everyone. And unfortunately, It makes exercise intimidating, inaccessible and confusing.
The truth is, fitness is much, much more than what you’ve been told. Mainstream fitness presents a small sliver of what fitness can be.
It’s time to broaden the definition of fitness beyond what mainstream workout culture presents. It’s time to embrace alternative fitness!
What is alternative fitness?
Alternative fitness is a set of ideas and approaches to fitness that expand the definition of exercise. The goal of alternative fitness is to present possibilities that big, mainstream fitness often fails to focus on.
Alternative fitness does not exclude mainstream fitness. Instead, alternative fitness aims to create a broader and more inclusive definition of fitness to create active lifestyles that are more accessible to everyone.
Accessible exercise, big and small
The exercise practices needed to live a more active lifestyle can include all types of exercises, big and small.
Definitions of exercise we see through mainstream media often make gym-centric, high intensity workouts seem like the only fitness there is.
While these types of exercise are absolutely part of daily fitness, they are not all of daily fitness. Especially for folks new to fitness eager to find beginner fitness plans that fit for them.
Getting active doesn’t always require the equipment, gym access or level of fitness mainstream fitness often presents.
Finding alternative fitness that fits for you
So how much activity do you need to get active?
That might sound like a lot of exercise, especially if you’re only thinking of “activity” as hardcore gym workouts and high-intensity training.
In reality, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise includes tons of different activities you might have overlooked as part of your complete exercise practice.
What counts as exercise? (Hint: It’s more than you think)
The CDC provides a lot of less obvious exercise suggestions for moderate-intensity aerobic activity including:
- General yard work and home repair work
- Bicycling slower than 10 miles per hour on level terrain
- Walking briskly
- Ballroom or line dancing
All of these options can count towards your 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity—hardly the “traditional activities” we often consider as the only type of fitness.
It might also be unclear what muscle strengthening activity includes.
It’s easy to think of muscle strengthening as lifting huge amounts of weight or exercise that’s dependent on fancy gym equipment you need a membership to use.
But the CDC outlines several exercises that don’t require a ton of prior fitness or expensive equipment:
- Working with resistance bands
- Heavy gardening (digging or shovelling)
- Certain types of yoga
Just like aerobic exercise, there’s more types of strengthening than just training in the gym on fancy machines.
Strengthening can be done at home, as part of another hobby, or even during a guided yoga practice.
Thinking in terms of alternate fitness will help you expand your definition of fitness to include more accessible and relatable activities you might already be doing.
Remember, you need at least as much activity as the CDC recommendations. Going above and beyond the suggested amount with the everyday activities listed above, combined with activities in a beginner workout plan, is the best way to start being more active.
How to discover your own alternative fitness
Embracing alternative fitness starts with expanding your definition of ‘active’ beyond what mainstream depictions of fitness often portray.
Your fitness doesn’t have to be solitary and lonely. It doesn’t have to be high-intensity or complex either, especially if you’re a fitness beginner.
It can be an extension of a hobby, it can be meditative, and it can be social. It can even be gamified fitness.
Find out how active you already are
To get started with your own definition of fitness that includes all types of activities big and small, start by tracking your movements like steps and reps of simple exercises with a pedometer app or activity tracking app throughout your day.
Tracking the activity you already do will help you realize how active you already are, and tell you just how much extra movement you might need during your week.
For example, if your typical daily steps is around 4000, but your goal is 7000, you may need to make some small adjustments to your routine, like walking to work instead of driving, or taking a meditative walk a couple of hours before bed.
No matter how you discover the activities that fit your fitness, it all starts with tracking the fitness you already do and filling in the areas that need more attention.
Get creative. Get active. Move more.
Once your daily activity is more clear, it’s time to start thinking of ways to grow your movement habits and avoid workout boredom.
The best part about alternative fitness is the room for creativity. As you decide what types of exercise you’d like to embark on, remember that fitness can be found in more places than you think.
- Start a walking meditation practice to get some more daily steps
- Do a few squats during a work call
- Take movement breaks during your day that include activities like dancing to your favorite song for 5 minutes
- Start a walking group with your friends and make your exercise social
- Get some active home improvements done
These activities are all part of a well-rounded active plan that includes traditional and alternative fitness options.
Stay creative with your activities and let alternative fitness ideas expand how you move.
Being active is what you make it.
Hopefully alternative fitness will help you find the parts of your life that are already active, new ways to be active you haven’t thought of before, and ways to combine them with more traditional ideas about fitness.
All together, every active activity is special and important.