Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an exotic exercise that is a great choice for those who would like to explore the history of Eastern health and fitness, and build strength and flexibility at the same time.

Tai chi is also thought by practitioners to have spiritual and mental health benefits, so that’s an added bonus!

What Is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi Exercise

Tai Chi is an ancient type of Chinese martial art, which has its roots in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy. Primarily, it focuses on health benefits, like emphasizing proper posture, strong abdominal breathing, and maintaining and encouraging flexibility in the joints and muscles.

What Is The History Of Tai Chi?

Tai Chi has been practiced in one form or another in China for centuries, but it first got its start in America in the 1930s, when a man named Choy Hok Pang began teaching. Throughout the following decades, this exercise became more well-recognized, thanks in part to a man named  Zheng Manqing who began teaching it in New York in the 1960s.

What Type Of Exercise Is Tai Chi? 

Doing Tai Chi in Park

Today’s form of Tai Chi is primarily practiced without a partner, and consists of numerous “forms” or taoulu. These movements are intended to teach proper balance, natural range of motion of the center of gravity, and strengthening of the arms and joints. It also incorporates breathing exercises. Depending on the form of Tai Chi you practice, it may have anywhere from 24-108 forms, though 37-form Tai Chi is the most common in America.

Preparing For Tai Chi

No special equipment is required to practice Tai Chi, so simply wear comfortable athletic clothing, and a pair of sneakers or running shoes. Tai chi is often practiced in group settings, but can also be practiced on your own with the help of video instruction. It can be practiced either inside or outside, depending on your preferences.

Practicing Tai Chi 

Tai Chi at Sunset

Practicing Tai Chi primarily focuses on moving through each “form” and using proper posture for each one. Tai Chi beginners may move through 10-20 forms in a session, while more advanced practitioners may do many more movements.

The Basics Of Tai Chi – Watch This Video Tutorial

To learn more about basic Tai Chi exercises and forms, the above video is a great resource. As you master these basic forms, you can start adding more forms onto your own practice. We also recommend trying out some group classes, as they can be very fun and help you refine your technique under instruction. 

The Benefits Of Tai Chi

doing Tai Chi

Traditionally, Tai Chi is thought to unblock your “qi” or natural life force that flows through your body, and to help balance the “yin” and “yang” of your body and keep it harmonized. 

While these spiritual elements of Tai Chi can’t be clinically proven, it has been shown that Tai Chi has some proven health and fitness benefits. It has been shown to help reduce accidental falls in seniors. Because it is a very low-impact, gentle exercise, it’s also ideal for people who have chronic health issues like COPD, osteoarthritis, and heart failure. 

Tai Chi Variations

There are many different styles and variations of Tai Chi, and most Western Tai Chi utilizes moves from multiple different schools. 

One major variation of Tai Chi is called tuishou (pushing hands) and consists of partner-based Tai Chi exercises. This type of Tai Chi is more focused on martial arts, and focuses on redirecting motion, enhancing reflexes, and building better timing and coordination.

Tai Chi is also often practiced in swimming pools, as this helps minimize impact further. This type of Tai Chi is very popular with older seniors.

Give Tai Chi A Try Today 

This exotic fitness activity is easy to learn, and you don’t need any special equipment – or even any classes – to learn the basics. Give it a try now, and see if Tai Chi fits into your own fitness routine.

Isometrics

Isometric exercises are easy to do in the comfort of your own home. While they’re not exactly an exotic exercise like yoga, they have proven results for muscular strength and endurance.

so learn more about how to incorporate them into your fitness routine below. 

What Is Isometric Exercise?

Isometric exercises are a subset of strength training. The primary difference between isometrics and other forms of strength training is that the muscles are held in a static position, rather than contracting. 

Planks, for example, are an isometric exercise where you hold yourself up on your elbows and straighten your back, then hold the position for a set interval of time. In contrast, sit-ups require the dynamic movement of your muscles, and are not an isometric exercise.

What Is The History of Isometrics?

Isometrics exercise

Isometric exercises were first introduced alongside the early days of Western physical culture and bodybuilding, which is usually acknowledged as beginning in America in the middle of the 19th century.

What Type Of Exercise Is Isometrics?

doing crunches on mat

Isometrics are considered to be a type of strength training, as they are primarily non-aerobic in nature, and are intended to help strengthen the muscles through repeated, static movements.

Because isometrics are static rather than dynamic, they are often recommended for those who have a limited range of motion, or who are recovering from injuries, allowing them to strengthen their muscles without a high risk of re-injuring a particular muscle group.

Preparing For Isometric Exercise

gym

Most isometric exercises can be conducted in the comfort of your own home without any additional gear. To prepare for isometric exercises, simply dress in some comfortable workout clothes. Some light stretching is also beneficial and can help you avoid injury.

Practicing Isometric Exercises

squats

There are many different types of isometric exercises. A few of the most common ones include:

  • Planks – This exercise consists of laying down, then holding yourself up on your elbows with your back straightened, usually for 15-30 seconds. It strengthens the back and abdominal muscles.
  • Wall sits – This exercise consists of placing your back against a wall, then lowering yourself into a “seated” position, and holding the pose for 15-30 seconds. It strengthens many muscles in the legs, like the quadriceps and glutes.
  • Body holds – This exercise consists of lying flat on the ground, then raising both your arms and legs to create a “V” shape with your body, and holding it for 15 seconds. It strengthens your upper and lower abdominal muscles. 

Isometrics Basics – Learn How To Get Started With This Video

If you’re interested in practicing common isometrics on your own and you’d like to learn more, the above video outlines many of the most common isometric exercises, how to perform them, and their benefits.

The Benefits Of Isometrics

Isometrics help strengthen the muscles targeted by each exercise. They also have been shown to help lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health as part of a fitness regimen.

Isometrics are also very low-impact and do not require any special equipment, and are ideal for isolating muscle groups and strengthening them individually. 

Isometric Exercise Variations 

Most isometrics are performed without any additional equipment. These are known as “bodyweight isometrics.” However, the most common variant of this exercise system uses weights and other equipment, and is called “weighted isometrics.” 

Instead of bench pressing a weight, for example, you can push the weight up, and hold it in place for an extended period of time. This is an isometric exercise – because the muscles are static and not contracting – but uses additional equipment. 

Utilizing weights to perform isometric exercises can open up a number of new exercises, and is a good option once you’ve become familiar with the basics of isometric exercise. 

Get Started With Isometrics Now 

Isometrics are easy to learn, offer great health benefits, and require no special equipment – so start incorporating them into your daily fitness routine today.

Yoga

Looking for an exotic exercise that can help with your health and fitness?

Inspired by age-old Hindu traditions, yoga is a fantastic way to build strength and improve your physical and spiritual health. 

What Is Yoga?

doing yoga on yoga mat

Yoga a group of exercises and spiritual practices that trace their history back millennia to Ancient India. It focuses on building strength, flexibility and physical fitness through a variety of different “poses,” also called “asanas.” It also has a strong spiritual element, and is thought by many practitioners to help improve the spiritual and mental well-being. 

What Is The History Of Yoga?

Yoga has its basis in Ancient India, and the word was first used in the 5th century BCE. Today’s yoga is different from this form of yoga, though, which was primarily a spiritual practice.

Today’s fitness-based yoga classes trace back to “hatha yoga.” A yogi named Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was primarily responsible for this modern form of yoga as exercise, as he combined ancient yoga poses with modern fitness exercises. Today, this type of yoga is one of the most popular group exercises in the Western world. 

What Type Of Exercise Is Yoga?

yoga classes

Yoga primarily focuses on building muscular strength and flexibility, as well as balance. It’s not a very cardiovascular-intensive exercise, compared to running or riding a bicycle.

The basis for yoga is moving through different poses, called “asanas.” These poses usually involve contorting and stretching the body and muscles in a particular way, and vary from being very easy, requiring almost no training, to extremely complex poses that require very strong muscles and good balance.

Preparing For Yoga

yoga mat

Preparing for yoga does not require much equipment. You will usually need a yoga mat, which is a soft mat that allows you to bend and do poses on hard surfaces while remaining comfortable and avoiding injury. 

Beyond this, all you need are some loose-fitting, comfortable, athletic clothes, and perhaps a water bottle. Then, you will be led through the yoga session in a group. If you are practicing on your own, you may need to use a laptop or phone to view instruction by a Yogi, unless you already know many yoga poses.

Practicing Yoga 

Yoga classes are usually an hour in length, and begin with gentle stretching poses, then move onto more difficult poses. The level of difficulty depends on the class you decide to take. Each pose is held for a short time, and your instructor will help you move through each pose, and do each one properly. The end of a yoga class often includes a pose intended to help relax and de-stress the body. 

Yoga Basics – Watch And Learn!

Interested in learning more about yoga? Here is a quick video outlining the basics with a 20-minute workout included. Watch and learn! 

The Benefits Of Yoga

doing yoga

Yoga can help strengthen and stretch your muscles, and also improves your balance. Many practitioners also claim that yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety, treat lower back pain, and even treat some of the symptoms of depression.

Variants Of Yoga 

One of the most popular variants of yoga is “hot yoga” (Bikram), which consists of a group of 26 poses done in a room that’s between 95-106 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of yoga is thought to have benefits similar to a sauna.

Other major variants of yoga include prenatal yoga, which is designed for pregnant women, and Kundalini yoga, which emphasizes the spiritual aspects of yoga, including meditation.

Try Yoga For Yourself – And See Its Benefits! 

There is a reason yoga has been practiced for more than two millennia. It’s fun, easy to get started, and has a number of great health benefits. So find a yoga class near you now, and try it for yourself today.

Cross Training

Cross training is not exactly an exotic exercise, but it can be very helpful for your fitness if you’re an athlete.

Get the details below, and see why you should regularly cross train, and perform workouts that are not normally part of your preferred sport or activity. 

What Is Cross Training?

Cross training, put simply, is the practice of training in a sport that is not your specialty, in an attempt to enhance your overall fitness and athletic performance. 

If you are a swimmer, for example, lifting weights would be an example of cross training, particularly if you focus on muscle groups that may help you swim more effectively. If you are a runner, riding an indoor bicycle when the weather is bad would be an example of cross training. 

What Is The History Of Cross Training?

Getting Ready for Cross Training

Cross training has been used by athletes for centuries, and its true origins are likely just as old as athletic competitions. More recently, fitness companies like CrossFit have emphasized the importance of cross-functional training – and turned it into a rising trend among athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

What Type Of Exercise Is Cross Training?

Cross Training in Gym

This primarily depends on the sport or activity that you focus on. If you are a bodybuilder, for example, cross training could consist of running, riding a bicycle, or swimming for cardiovascular benefits.

On the other hand, if you participate in a cardio-heavy sport like triathlon, you could choose to do an exercise like weight lifting or yoga, which would have benefits for your muscle strength and flexibility.

Preparing For Cross Training

Doing Cross Training

When cross training, you want to minimize your risk of injury. If you are just starting a new fitness activity you have not tried before, you should familiarize yourself with the proper techniques, stretch beforehand, and wear the appropriate clothing and gear for your chosen activity.

Practicing Cross Training

Playing Tennis

When cross training, it’s usually best to select an activity that is complementary to your primary sport. If you are a tennis player, for example, lifting weights will help you develop strength to hit the ball harder, and running or riding a bike will improve your cardiovascular fitness. 

The idea is to choose an exercise that is different from your typical workout, but will still have benefits for your chosen sport or activity – so take some time to think about what cross training methods may be right for you.

Learn The Basics About Cross Training With This Video

This video is targeted at runners, but introduces you to some of the key concepts of cross training. For more information, do some searching online and find out what other athletes in your sport do to cross train! 

The Benefits Of Cross Training

Cross training allows you to vary your workouts, which helps you stay motivated. In addition, it lets you target muscles and parts of your body that may not typically be exercised when you’re training for your preferred sport – which can enhance your overall fitness, performance, and physique. 

Cross Training Variations

Everyone has their own variations on cross training. The right activity depends on your age, level of fitness, preferred sport, the equipment you have, and other such factors – so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Start Cross Training For Better Athletic Performance 

If you are an athlete and want to perform better in your favorite sport, we highly recommend giving cross training a try. It helps break the monotony of your typical workouts, and explore new fitness activities that you just might love!