69 Fun Fitness Ideas to Get You Moving

Last Update:
Fitness ideas showcasing slack line, yoga and HEMA aka: Historical European Martial Arts

I’ve been active most of my life doing a vast array of activities.  Sometimes, for those who are not so active, it can be confronting and, unsolicited, people will tell me, “I just really hate running.”  For a brief moment (1 year) I did actually run quite a bit. On a whim I decided to do a marathon because WHY NOT? I was 26 and out of shape because I was in a lazy relationship and as soon as we broke up I thought, “sure, let me do this thing I never wanted to do before.” That’s not the only option for movement though.  In fact, most of my life I haven’t just run for running’s sake and I wouldn’t say that year I trained and completed a marathon was fun.  A few years later my ego wanted to give it another shot to better my time but I’m older and wiser now and I just don’t like running so I don’t do it!

Thankfully, there are limitless options for movement/exercise/sport/activities/fitness ideas.  Maybe you’re stuck and can’t think of anything.  Well, fear not my people, I have a non-exhaustive list of 69 different fitness ideas to move your body and maybe, just maybe, one or two of these may spark some interest.  Try some new things and the worst that happens is you don’t like it so you just stop doing it but best case, you find a new passion!

To get inspired, check out the below list of exercise ideas.

Fitness Ideas to Get You Moving with JOY

  1. Running – I know I said there is more to movement besides running BUT running requires very little equipment (all you need is a good pair of running shoes) and you can do it anywhere so I’d be remiss to not include it.  It’s the first though so we got that out of the way!
  2. Gardening – For anyone who has spent too much of a weekend playing tug of war with ivy, using a manual reel mower to get pristine, lush, green grass, or have dug out root balls from flower beds before tucking dahlia tubers into the earth, you know how much movement, sweat and strength you can get from gardening.
  3. Walk to Sit – My wife HATES exercising of any kind – it’s a taurus thing I’ve deduced.  She even hates going for walks but the one thing she will do with me is a walk to sit.  Sometimes we walk to sit at a cafe.  Sometimes we walk to sit on a bench along the water.  Sometimes it’s a walk to sit at a park.  When we’re done, we walk to sit on the couch to play Zelda.
  4. Mushroom Foraging – I know above I said my wife hates moving, a lot, but when we forage for mushrooms, she becomes this steep hill ascending beast in search of the best chanterelles.  It really is just finding YOUR thing that lights the fire under your tush.
  5. Housework – Deep cleaning the floors or walking up and down a ladder to clean out the gutters takes WORK.  This realization has been a terrific way to motivate me to do housework. Not only is the house getting so fresh and so clean, I’m also getting a good workout.
  6. Cycling –  Jump on that fancy stationary bike, toss your own bike into a bike trainer, hit the road or hit the trails.  You can bike in as many places as you can run.  If the streets are too intimidating but you don’t want the boredom of a stationary bike set up, there are some great, dare I say FUN, programs you can use like TrainerRoad (my personal fave), Zwift and Wahoo, to name a few.
  7. Swimming – Whether in a pool, in the ocean or in nature’s swimmill, the river (like a treadmill but for swimming… I just made it up, work with me here), this low impact exercise works your entire body!
  8. Strength Training – You need about as much equipment for strength training as you do for running, maybe even less!  Using  your body weight is a terrific way to get to build strength.  You can also find joy in picking heavy things up and putting them down. This is a great way to condition you for other activities too.
  9. Stairs – Talk about a booty blaster.  Depending on where you live you may have copious options for outdoor stair workouts (Seattle has a TON).  Live in a flat town, try your local stadium or  park.  
  10. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – If you’re looking for efficiency, you can’t do much better than a HIIT workout.  The formula for a HIIT workout is quick intervals with short breaks and makes you feel like dying in a few short minutes.   
  11. CrossFit – Speaking of HIIT CrossFit is home of the WOD (Workout Of the Day).  The workouts are varied, often murderous HIIT workouts, to Olympic Lifting but one of the greatest things about CrossFit is how tight and supportive the communities are in each gym.
  12. Rowing – This can require very little equipment (thank you rowing machine) to requiring A LOT of equipment and a team of people and a coach.  Rowing is my greatest love.  If you’re looking for community, I can’t suggest joining a local rowing club enough. If you’re looking for a full body strength and cardio workout, I also can’t suggest rowing enough.
  13. Calisthenics – I don’t know about you but I’m fascinated by people who look like they are effortlessly walking on air while hanging onto a pull up bar. If you are too, welcome to the world of calisthenics.  A lot of effort is required to make something look so effortless.
  14. Powerlifting – Love a good squat, dead lift or bench press and want to see how much weight you can do in each of those?  Powerlifting may be for you.
  15. Olympic Lifting – More technical than Powerlifting, Olympic Lifts focus on the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk.  There is less weight moved than Powerlifting because you’re flinging (a very controlled flinging) that weight over your head.
  16. Rock Climbing – Strengthen your entire body while solving the puzzle of how to complete routes either in a gym or on a rockface. 
  17. Team Sports – Ultimate Frisbee, soccer, kickball, dodgeball, softball, tennis leagues, synchronized swimming, cricket… the list is endless and new sports are popping up all the time.  Pickleball, is a shining example of a newer craze. You can find teams that want to play for the fun or teams that want to win national championships. 
  18. Fitness Dance Classes – You’re not there to look graceful and like you could be a backup dancer for Lady Gaga but you’ll definitely get a good sweat and have fun. You may look a fool, or fantastic, while doing it.
  19. Dance – Like, just dance.  Have you tried throwing on some music that amps you up while getting ready for your day?  How about shakin what your mama gave you to said tunes?  Not only will it get your body moving in whatever ways feel organic to you, it will also give you a terrific dopamine boost.
  20. Dance Lessons – East and or West Coast Swing, Jazz, Modern, Ballet, Tango, Ballroom, Lindy Hop, Hip Hop, Contemporary, etc, are all options.  If you do it with a significant other it can be a  lovely time to connect while learning to move together. Technique is prioritized over sweating so prepare yourself for a lot of starting and stopping and going slow in the beginning as you learn.
  21. Circus Arts – Fire dancing, aerial silks, aerial hoop, trapeze, cyr wheel, pole dancing, acro balancing, handstands, juggling, tight rope, unicycling, contortionism and so much more.  If humans can dream it up it usually ends up in a circus performance wowing audiences and inspiring others to give it a try. 
  22. Slackline – Sorta like tightrope but less circus, more hippy.  The tension on the line isn’t as great (hence the slack vs tight) and the line is flat vs a narrow wire line.  You can head to a park near you, or your backyard, find two trees as your anchor points and away you go!
  23. Pilates – I personally think no matter what activity you do, pilates needs to be incorporated. Whether on a mat or reformer, you’ll be working all the tiny supporting muscles that usually get neglected for the big beefy muscles.  A regular practice is terrific for increasing your mobility, core strength and stability and helps reduce injury.  
  24. Barre – Don’t ask a ballet dancer what they think of a barre class.  Also, unless you are a ballet dancer, no matter how in shape you are, a barre class will be a very humbling experience.  You may hang off a barre and use it for support but your muscles will get absolutely blasted.
  25. Obstacle Course Racing – I’m mentioning running again but this is running plus diving through mud pools, army crawling under barbed wire, hurling your body over a wall, carrying heavy weight up a hill… you get the idea.  
  26. Parkour – A friend on my highschool rowing team loved to run around and jump off things and she called it “free-style walking.”  Little did we know that at the same time, across the pond in the land of fine wine, cheese and croissants, Parkour was becoming the next new thing.
  27. Water Aerobics – My mom and anyone who has had to recover from injury, myself included, swears by it. For those who have aching joints and need something super low impact but still want to have fun while getting a great work out, this is a terrific option.  Just because you have challenges moving doesn’t mean everything is off the table.
  28. Skating – Ice skating, roller blading, roller skating, jam skating (dancing on roller skates) are but a few options in the realm of skating.
  29. LAPRing – Live Action Role Playing – instead of sitting on your booty playing The Witcher on your Nintendo Switch, you’re with friends out in the world acting it out in real life with plastic weapons.  There is acting, costumes and acted out combat.  For many people, this is the combo of all their favorite things.
  30. Trampoline – This may make American women feel fear because we don’t have support for our dear pelvic floors in this country.  So, if you want to risk tinkling yourself, a little bit, or you’re a man, it is an absolute blast.  There are classes using small trampolines for fitness and of course massive gyms where you can go for the day or even join a trampoline dodgeball team. 
  31. Playgrounds – Go have fun!  We take our adult selves too seriously and sometimes you just need to see if you can make a swing go 360 degrees, climb up a slide or sit on top of the entire playground structure because you can.  If you have kids, play with them on the playground.  You’ll be their favorite human if you do. Just… watch your head and don’t be creepy. 

Fitness Ideas within Yoga  

Fitness ideas for yoga showcasing ashtanga yoga, iyengar yoga and kundalini yoga

I’m giving Yoga its own category because there are different kinds of yoga. While you may not like one, there could be another for you.  The US loves branding things so I won’t cover all those but I will cover some of the main, traditional, ones.

  1. Vinyasa – The word, translated from Sanskirt, means “to place in a certain way.” One movement flows into the next at the pace of the breath.  This can feel almost like cardio.
  2. Hot Yoga – Really, this brings a bit of India to the West in the form of a heated room.  Depending on what kind you do there may be a certain sequence and water is definitely needed, in fact, some sort of electrolyte because you’ll lose tons of salt in your sweat. 
  3. Kundalini – The word means “coiled” and represents a spiritual energy coiled at the base of the spine. Using postures, sometimes very repetitive and quick, chanting, meditation and a lot of pranayama (breath work) Kundalini can awaken and travel up the spine.  Kundalini is WILD and fascinating.
  4. Hatha Yoga – Some teachers will link movements in a Hatha class but for the most part, each posture is its own experience and generally held for 3-5 breaths.
  5. Yin – Yin is slow, it is restorative, it is quiet and it is just what the doctor ordered if you need to chill.  You hold poses for much longer than Hatha but in a relaxed way to target the deeper tissues of the body. 
  6. Ashtanga – Created by Patthabi Jois, Ashtanga was the birth place of Vinyasa and it’s a very specific sequence, done in the same order every time.  Everyone starts with the Primary Series and it goes up from there and it’s very athletic. Iyengar people always joke that the back of the room in an Ashtanga class is full of injured people bcs Ashtangies treat their practice like a competitive sport.
  7. Iyengar – Created by B.K.S Iyengar, the poses are held isometrically for a long time, often until muscle failure.  You may know it for its heavy use of props and some think it’s an easier form but try holding any pose, with all your muscles engaged for minutes at a time and tell me how easy it is.  Ashtangies often make fun of Iyengar people for only doing a handful of poses in 90 minutes. 

Side Note: There is a bit of a rivalry between the practitioners of Iyengar yoga and Ashtanga yoga, which I think is silly, because each is great for their own reasons.  I’ve practiced both and love both so if you do try one, don’t fall for the hype of that ONE and know both are great. 

Martial Arts Fitness Ideas

Martial arts fitness ideas shown are fencing, krav maga and muay thai

Each country has their own martial art, some having multiple. I’ll cover some of the most popular that may inspire interest.

  1. MMA – Mix Martial Arts is exactly what it sounds like, fighting w/ a blend of many different kinds of martial arts.  The ones most commonly used are Muay Thai, Ju-Jitsu and Boxing but they are not the only ones.
  2. Muay Thai – Originating from Thailand it focuses on strikes with the knees, elbows, shins, feet and all boxing combinations.
  3. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – Originating from Brazil it focuses on grappling and ground fighting and the premise is that, with proper technique, a smaller person can overpower a stronger person.
  4. Boxing – Originating in Greece but popularized in Britain and the US, this fighting style uses only the hands and only the upper body is targeted.
  5. Krav Maga – Developed by the Israeli Defense Forces it focuses on a self-defense system used in hand-to-hand combat.  I call it dirty street fighting because it truly is a system to get yourself out of a pickle and when you’re in a pickle. Absolutely anything and everything is on the table.  Higher belts learn how to disarm someone with a knife or gun.
  6. Aikido – Created in Japan and is another grappling art. It teaches a person to flow with another person’s movements requiring less strength since you’re using an attacker’s momentum against them.
  7. Capoeira – Another Brazilian martial art and it marries dance and fighting into its movements.
  8. Judo – Another Japanese art where the goal is to take an opponent to the ground and subdue them with a grappling lock. You can go to the Olympics with this one.
  9. Taekwondo – Developed in Korea and is a form of self-defense and uses blocks, kicks, throws, punches, take-downs, etc with a heavy focus on kicks. You can also go to the Olympics with this one.
  10. Karate – Another Japanese martial art and this focuses on striking techniques and has a heavy emphasis on hand strikes.
  11. Tai Chi and Qigong – These both originate from China and are often confused as being synonymous.  Tai Chi has its roots in Qigong but with a self defense focus. Qigong’s focus is to benefit a person’s overall health.  Both have an emphasis on focused movement, focused breath and focused mind.
  12. HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) – I mentioned in the beginning of this article that exercise options are endless. I am in my 40s and just learned last weekend, while attending my first Ren Faire, that HEMA is a thing and it’s FUN.  This is a weapons heavy martial art where you learn to work with any number of weapons from long swords, rapiers, daggers, swords, shields and spears to axes and the list goes on.  There are also specialities within each country you can learn.  The woman I learned briefly from specializes in Spanish rapier.  It’s vast and let me tell you, swinging around a long sword is no easy task!
  13. Fencing – While we’re talking about swords let’s not forget fencing as a fitness option.  In HEMA, the point is to learn how to survive and win in an actual battle so the body control needed is different.  Fencing is an actual Olympic sport, one of the only 5 permanent sports since the first modern Olympics in 1896, and the goal is to score as many points as possible. That means you may lunge for a point and not necessarily need to immediately stabilize yourself, whereas, when actually fighting, if you’re not solid in your body control, it can be detrimental to your life.

Outside Exercise Ideas

fitness ideas for the outside showcasing a woman free diving, a woman mountain climbing and a woman hiking

These are all fitness options where you need to be in the great outdoors to enjoy.  Some of these things are highly specialized but I wanted to mention them because it could spark interest.  I  recommend checking in your local area to see if there are organizations that help teach some of these skills.  We have The Moutaineers in WA State where we can learn to do all sorts of things outside, whether on the mountain or in the water.

  1. Hiking/Trekking – Step outside and breathe in the fresh air surrounded by old (or second) growth forests, trudge up switch-backs and take in the views.  I live in the PNW and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like hiking (my wife is one of those few).  Hikes can be short, they can be exceptionally long, they can be flat and they can be steep.  As long as you’re walking in nature, whether the deserts of the Indio Valley or the rainforests of the PNW, you’re hiking.
  2. Backpacking – This is taking hiking to the next level and requires, generally, significantly more gear.  I’m not talking about survivalists, but walking into nature with all you need on your back to set up camp, away from cars, people and roads.  It does require more fitness than hiking but for those who like to wake up around nothing but nature, it’s the shiz.
  3. Orienteering – Navigation skills plus hiking. If you Geocache there is a prize when you get to your destination.
  4. Trail Running – Like hiking but faster.  I know many people who hate running but love trail running.  It takes a lot more focus, quite a bit more agility and the air is definitely fresher than the city streets.
  5. Mountaineering – Wonder what it would be like to stand on top of a mountain, feeling like a tiny, insignificant dot, while looking down, literally, not metaphorically, on the rest of the earth? The range in skill required is vast, from non-technical climbs to exceptionally technical (think K2 and Everest).
  6. Ice Climbing – Rock climbing you can do inside or out, ice climbing, you gotta be out there, in the elements, calculating what the atmospheric conditions will do to your climbing goal at various parts of the day.  It’s like a perpetual puzzle of risk assessment.
  7. Skiing – Going down a mountain on two sticks, with a stick in each hand.
  8. Snowboarding – Going down a mountain on one bigger stick, with no other sticks.
  9. Backcountry Skiing – I poked fun above, mostly because I’m jealous because in 40+ years of living in the PNW, I still haven’t figured out how to properly regulate my very sweaty body for winter activities, which poses the risk of discomfort at best and hypothermia at its worst.  If crowds aren’t your thing and hiking up mountains in the snow to find the freshest, untouched powder, while being very mindful of avalanche conditions, sounds fun, this could be your jam.
  10. Cross country skiing – If you’re craving the serene setting of the snow while also blasting your cardio, may I introduce you to cross country skiing?
  11. SUP (Stand Up Paddling) – There are few fitness ideas I have where you can be doing the thing and then have a 50’ humpback whale swim directly under you. Awe inspiring? Yes!  Terrifying? Absolutely! Can you stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to instead?  Yup!
  12. Surfing – I learned, not that long ago, that there is quite a contingent of humans that put on their super warm wetsuits and venture out into the Pacific Ocean in the PNW to feel the spiritual connection to the ocean and her movements.  It turns out, surfing isn’t just for those living in Hawaii or Southern California.  If you’ve had any desire at all, definitely see if it’s a thing in your area because if there is water with waves, there is surfing.
  13. Scuba Diving/Snorkeling – Neither of these you may think of as fitness but both absolutely have you working your body, engaging your muscles and with very low impact.
  14. Free Diving – This is a sport I sometimes dream of doing.  Free diving is to diving as free soloing is to rock climbing. You’re diving with zero assistance from a snorkel or oxygen tank and instead train yourself to hold your breath, adjust pressure as you descend and in some instances, train your body to adapt to severe pressure changes.  You can compete to see how far down you can go or you can just swim among the fish, like a fish.
  15. Kayaking – there are so many ways to kayak.  If there is water, you can kayak on it.  It can be as serene and relaxing as paddling around a quiet lake or it can be a serious jolt of adrenaline falling down a waterfall while white water kayaking.  There are camping spots that are only accessible by a human powered watercraft too and a kayak is a perfect way to access those places. It’s like backpacking but… paddlepacking.
  16. Beach Volleyball – Unlike volleyball in a gym where you need 6 players on each side, beach volleyball on requires 2 on each side. Warning – easier surface to fall on when going for a dig but may leave you excavating sand from only god knows where. 
  17. SUP Yoga and Pilates – Generally, working on balance on a solid floor is enough for most humans. If you can stand on your tiptoes with your eyes closed and spin in a circle without face planting into the ground, it may be time to challenge your stability and for there, there is SUP Yoga.
  18. Sex – I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this in my list of 69 fitness ideas.  It’s not necessarily an outside thing, though it can be. Sex can be pretty, oh how shall I put this, “meh,” but sex can also be an incredibly fun, lively workout if you want it to.  If you read this and thought, “really… sex???” then may I suggest a bit of spicing things up in the bedroom, or woods, maybe the kitchen?  This goes without saying but also, I’m going to say it anyway, get full “f*ck yeah” consent and talk with your partner about this transition to making sex more like sexercise before you just go for it.

Conclusion 

I’m still learning about different sports, activities and fitness things people do in this world.  This list is but a few but my hope is that it gives you a starting point to google different classes or programs in your area.  Many of these suggestions have trial periods that are either free or inexpensive, like martial arts, pilates and yoga studios, so you can give it a try before you decide to commit. There are also a lot of online programs available if you’d rather building some of these things into your own home gym. Whatever you do, just have fun while doing it, whether your fun is training to compete at top levels or just going to play with your friends and/or family.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

As a highly disciplined competitive athlete for 35 years Jess is now working to find more balance, more fun and more ease in the way she moves her body. In building her home gym she's been able to integrate a lot of equipment that helps her find play and she hopes to inspire others to do the same. She is a former nationally competitive rower, Concept 2 CIRI and 500 RYT Yoga Teacher.