Extreme Exercise: How to Get a Great Workout without Leaving City Limits

Think working out in a city has to mean sucking exhaust while you jog on the side of a busy street? Not with these fun, and at times, extreme-alternative workouts.

Remember the scene in “Casino Royale” where 007 himself scales a crane and frantically tries to catch what we initially assume is some kind of extreme gymnast? Turns out that villain was actually a parkour artist (or traceur as they are also referred to). Founded by a guy called David Belle, parkour is all about accessing the seemingly inaccessible, usually to escape or evade pursuers (or dapper English gentlemen depending on your situation). Unlike free runners (more on that later) traceurs try to clear objects – be it barrels, bars, bollards or other barriers – in the simplest and most efficient method possible. Incorporate parkour type moves into your own workout by heading to a “quieter” edge of the city and dodging, jumping or vaulting over barriers and other obstacles, swinging through railings and climbing up low brick walls (just don’t scare the neighbors!)

Free Running:
If parkour is the nitty-gritty, rough-and-tumble mode of transport for escape artists, free running is the more graceful, aesthetically pleasing method of moving for the show-off in all of us. Although incredibly similar to parkour (with free running actually developed by a childhood friend of David Belle!) free running’s philosophy centers around the idea of getting from point A to point B using free-flowing movements that make you happy (and that look pretty). When out for a jog, add some free-running elements by leaping (arms outstretched) over cracks in the road, swinging yourself around lamp poles or just adding the odd cartwheel or forward rollover (we warned you in advance it could get extreme!)

You understand parkour, you sort of understand free running, now it’s time to master buildering! Often referred to as urban climbing, structuring and stegophily, buildering is defined as any act of scaling or climbing on the outside of buildings or other artificial structures. Buildering can also sometimes be confused with a separate “sport” known as bouldering, whereby buildings are still scaled, but this time in smaller, bite-size sections. Although not technically legal uhhh…anywhere, you can borrow from this physical art by jumping on and off low building ledges, scaling stairs two-at-a-time or jumping off porches and decks (just don’t get caught!)

Indoor Rock Climbing:
If you like the idea of buildering, but aren’t willing to break the law, perhaps indoor rock climbing is the sport for you! Giving you a welcome reprieve from the weight room, rock climbing is not only a full-body strength workout but, depending on your skill and the course you choose, can also increase flexibility and provide a great cardiovascular workout. To learn more about rock climbing events in your city visit usaclimbing.net.

Think skateboarding is best reserved for trouble-making teens? Although it does convey a certain risk element – what with the high likelihood of incurring cuts, bruises and maybe the odd broken bone – skateboarding, to its credit, is a great cardiovascular workout and can also help improve coordination and balance. If you’re thinking of giving it a whirl, make like Tony Hawk (the God of skateboarding) and invest in a helmet and some serious knee and elbow pads. Also, if you’re a beginner, stay away from skate parks or other uneven surfaces – where studies suggest more than half of skateboard-related injuries take place – and opt for smooth surfaces such as quiet roads and large pavements.

Ultimate Frisbee:
Once the primary workout of greasy frat boys the nation over, Ultimate Frisbee has developed somewhat of a cult-following, with games-and even leagues-cropping up in the parks of most major towns and cities. Developed as sort of a combination of a classic Frisbee game and the most violent of football/rugby matches – depending, of course, on who you are playing with – Ultimate Frisbee is played on a rectangular shaped field with “endzones” at either end. The Frisbee is then tossed between players – who must stand still upon catching the Frisbee and have only 10 seconds to pass it along – with the goal of completing a pass in the defenses’ end zone. Although fouls can be called for physical contact, the games do tend to get a little rough so please plan accordingly (as in stock up on bandaids and have a medical professional on speed-dial!)

These extreme sports aren’t for everyone. As you can imagine after watching the videos, they are a great way to induce serious bodily harm, so be warned. With that said we think that, at the very least, they can provide motivation to be creative with your physical activity. What do you think? Do you prefer to keep adjectives like “ultimate” and “extreme” away from your exercise routine?

LexnGer Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Ultimate Frisbee

10 Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Workouts

Shoes are so passé.

Tips on Practicing Safety for Extreme Sports

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

About the Author

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!