August 14, 2008

Working Out Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

By Sarah Howden

IT'S not exactly our first choice when it comes to spending an hour of our free time, yet with more and more of us becoming health conscious, working out is crucial to our welfare.

But staying fit doesn't have to be monotonous, with seemingly endless treadmill sessions, spinning classes and cross trainers to look forward to. For the Capital is bursting with alternative and seriously hip fitness regimes.

From gliding to ballast ball, Drums Alive to kinesis, all that is fun and trendy is available right here, and there's not a treadmill in sight.


Straight from the dance studios of New York, this exercise gives a whole new meaning to aerobic training - this fun exercise gets you gliding, sliding and stretching.

"It's a fast way to tone the body but it's also a lot of fun," says Edinburgh personal trainer Gareth Jones.

"Results are pretty quick and it improves flexibility, core strength and is also the cardiovascular system."

Gliding classes are currently available at Virgin Active in Fountainpark (0131-221 8000) or Holmes Place (0131-550 1650). The glides can be purchased at John Lewis.


There's a myriad of health benefits associated with horse riding, but if you don't want to mount a horse - mount the iJoy Ride. This hi-tech horse riding machine provides the key benefits of horseback riding but also tones and conditions muscles. Simply choose a programme and let this little horse do all the work.

"It does take a while to get used to," says 27-year-old trainee accountant, Sadie Walker, from Leith. "It's toned up my abs, inner thighs and bum. My cellulite is almost gone too. You look like a prize idiot on it, but you can sit and watch EastEnders and work out."

The iJoy Ride is available from John Lewis, priced GBP 399.


That whole yoga ball thing is so last season. Now, it's all about the ballast ball. Containing a weighted load, it works on burning calories, toning those muscles and improving flexibility.

"It works on the same premise as the Kettlebell," explains Gareth. "You simply do a range of exercises which work different muscle groups and the weighted load moves around inside the ball, working the core faster."

Ballast Ball classes are available at Holmes Place (0131-550 1650), and can be purchased from


Kylie Minogue swears that her enviable rear comes from dancing, and this form of exercise uses all the muscles - even those smaller underlying ones. Expect to burn off around 400 calories in a session. And have a good laugh.

Gareth says: "It's great for the legs, waist and hips and allows a workout without putting stress on the joints."

Dance Base, 14-16 Grassmarket, 0131-225 5525 has ten-week courses which cost from GBP 63. Advanced booking is advised.


Drums Alive is an all over body workout. Burning at least 300 calories in 40 minutes, the aerobic workout focuses on both arms and legs - and it's said to reduce stress and tension.

Drums Alive classes are available at Virgin Active, Fountainpark, 0131-221 8000.


Burning more than 500 calories in an hour, it is becoming one of the city's most popular classes.

Health and fitness manager, Lorraine Young, says: "Capoeira is a lively Brazilian dance that combines acrobatics and music with martial arts techniques.

"It develops fitness while enhancing co-ordination, balance and agility."

Capoeira classes are available through Edinburgh Leisure at Gracemount, Royal Commonwealth Pool, Meadowbank and Portobello.


This Latin-American style of dance is vibrant. The tempo is faster than most other forms of dance and salsa can lead to a lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and a reduced heart rate. A half-hour session can burn between 200-400 calories and is aimed for all ages and abilities.

Salsa classes are hosted at various venues around the city. For details on classes visit


It's sexy, it's sassy, it's also hard work. The routine strengthens core muscles, the abs, bum and thighs and is more focused on firming and toning rather than burning calories.

Dance Base, 14-16 Grassmarket, 0131-225 5525, has ten-week courses which cost from GBP 63. Advanced booking is advised.

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