Feel Good Guide: Kill the Treadmill 

16 ways to get fit without a gym

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Personal fitness is a journey, not a destination spelled G-Y-M. So leave behind that sweat-socks smelling cage with all its menacing machines and consider tap dancing your way to happiness and weight loss. Or at least mixing it up with some of these seriously fun alternatives to the gym.

Silky Stretch
Aerial fabrics, or “silks,” are creative, technical and physically challenging. Both an art form and fitness routine, various dance-like movements are performed in the air on a piece of fabric suspended from the ceiling. Climbing, flipping and stretching works your back, shoulders, core and legs—giving them a more fluid workout than on-the-ground exercise. Aerial Arts of Utah (1301 E. Miller Ave., Salt Lake City, 801–577-0346, AerialArtsOfUtah.com) and ONYX (7021 S. Commerce Park Drive, Midvale, 801-652-9575, DanceSaltLake.com) both offer silks classes for beginning to advanced students. (Nicole McDonald)

Bum Drum
Looking for your beat? How about moving accompanied by live drumming? A fast-paced, rhythm-filled, full-body workout can be found at Samba Fogo’s weekly dance classes, taught by Lorin Hansen at the Salt Lake City Arts Hub (663 W. 100 South, 801-651-3937, SambaFogo.com). Explore a fusion of Afro contemporary dance and strength training at Danza Tecnica (Tuesdays, 6:30-8 p.m.), and learn samba, samba reggae, Orixa movements and more at the Afro-Brazilian class (Thursdays, 6:30-8 p.m.). Both classes are $12 for drop-in. All levels of dance knowledge are welcome—just arrive ready to shake that booty. (Kolbie Stonehocker)

Bunch O’ Crunch
Climbing a mountain’s steep trail will test you on more levels than the StairMaster, but who wants to tackle the wilderness on their own? Finding a group of outdoor adventurists will not only motivate you but also make getting outdoors fun. Salt Lake City’s Outdoor Thrillseekers (Meetup.com/OutdoorThrillSeekers) are a group of outdoor-oriented locals who go mountain biking, hiking, mountain climbing, river rafting and even paragliding. The group has more than 1,400 members and plans near-weekly activities year-round. (Whitney Forslund)

Grip & Glide
When you’re first given cross-country ski boots—little more than slippers—and a set of long, skinny skis with no edges and a foot-long span of “fish scales” on the bottom, and told you’re supposed to go up and downhill with this setup, it sounds like a death trap. And the first day does feel that way. But if you stick with it, cross-country skiing gets easier, and the intense full-body workout is unparalleled, carving your muscles into lean, nordic shape faster than powder gets carved out in the Wasatch. For groomed runs, try Soldier Hollow (2300 W. Soldier Hollow Lane, Midway, 435-654-2002), a 2002 Winter Olympic facility that’s now home to Utah’s largest network of trails and beginner-friendly terrain. Closer to Salt Lake City, and with more challenging terrain, try Solitude Nordic Center (12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, 801-536-5774). Another quick and easy option is to take your skis to any patch of open land (such as a park or golf course) and kick out a few laps. (Austen Diamond)

Balancing Act
Coming from a 20-year career designing athletic apparel, Jim Klopman made the transition to alternative medicine and fitness, eventually inventing the SlackBow in 2009. A free-standing balancing apparatus similar to the kind of slackline you’d tie between trees, the SlackBow is now the centerpiece of Klopman’s SlackBow Balance Training Centre (1255 Iron Horse Drive, Park City, 435-200-3287, SlackBow.com). “Jim likes to talk about how you’re not necessarily building bigger muscles, but better muscles,” says spokeswoman Lindsay Walter. It’s a low-impact workout—suitable for a wide range of ages—that focuses on the kind of fast-twitch muscles key to the activities of skiers, golfers and anyone trying to increase vertical leap. While the classes may be ideal for those who are already fairly active and looking for improved performance, Walter says that classes accommodate a broad range of fitness levels. The first class is free, with additional classes generally ranging from $20 to $50 per session. (Scott Renshaw)

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Kung-Fu Fighting
You’ll never feel healthier—or deadlier—than after a few months of studying kung fu. A good martial-arts school never gets boring. Group workouts provide motivation to push yourself more than you would going to the gym. Advancing in a discipline also offers the chance to learn more techniques, and forms that become increasingly more difficult over time. That you will learn to fight is an awesome side benefit. And if you practice in a school like Sil Lum Kung Fu Kwoon (3370 S. State, 801-679-0759) which doesn’t use pads or gloves for sparring, you’ll quickly realize that if you’re not in shape, you’re going to get pummeled.

Grace Under Pressure
Still bitter that you missed out on your childhood dream of becoming a ballerina? Do visions of wearing a black leotard and hanging out in a mirrored room dance in your head? You’re in luck. The Xtend Barre workout combines dance and pilates for the ultimate disciplined, graceful workout. Classes at Xtend Barre SLC (450 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-869-2752, XtendBarreSLC.com) will improve your coordination, rhythm, control and precision while sculpting and chiseling your body into a long, lean physique—no bulk. All ages, genders and fitness backgrounds are welcome, and the first class is free. (Rachel Piper)

Boing Boing Boing
It seems like child’s play, but doing Airobics at a trampoline gym can yield serious results—some trainers say it can burn 1,000 calories an hour. The soft landing for jumps mean that it’s low stress on joints, but doing even simple cardio exercises like jumping jacks on a bouncy surface forces your body to work harder to simply maintain balance. Yoga, pilates and strength-training exercises kick things up a notch, but the fun atmosphere and customizable workouts means it’s suitable for people of all fitness levels. If you’d prefer a more unstructured workout, most trampoline gyms, like Kaysville’s Get Air (1188 Sportsplex Drive, Kaysville, 801-499-5247, GetAirSportsPlex.com/Kaysville), Orem’s Get Air Hang Time (1340 Sandhill Road, Orem, 801-784-6100, GetAirHangTime.com) and Draper’s Airborne Trampoline Arena (12674 S. Pony Express Road, 801-601-8125, AirborneSports.com) also have open “parks” with various foam platforms for jumping, as well as dodgeball and basketball. (RP)

Come Fly With Me
When pole-dancing as a sport and exercise first spun onto the scene a few years back, many thought it was just a risqué gimmick that would quickly lose its popularity. But women are sticking with it, finding that it builds strength, coordination and camaraderie, as students of all abilities learn to “fall with style” in small or individual classes on their way to the kind of sexy strength that allows a woman to support her entire body with her arms as she spins through the air on the pole. Studio Soiree (310 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City, info@studiosoiree.com, StudioSoiree.com) offers individual classes, while La Bombe (1850 S. 300 West, Suite B. Salt Lake City, 801-924-2016, LaBombeSLC.com) offers small group classes like Trix & Technique and Turn & Burn. (RP)

Urban Rollerblading
There’s nothing like hitting the streets on a pair of slick blades. For some reason, the popularity of the ’90s extreme sport has dramatically fizzled over the past few years, but to true believers, inline skating will always be awesome. Salt Lake City is a great place to shred, especially when the weather warms up. If speed-skating is your thing, meet up with the folks of The SkateNow Shop for weekly skating events (SkateNow.com). If you already know what an alley-oop fishbrain is, be sure to check out the skate parks in Jordan, Fairmont and Rose Park. Either way, just an hour of blading a week can burn up to 1,100 calories, according to the Mayo Clinic. (Colin Wolf)

Find Your Inner Michael Phelps
Salt Lake County’s 18 low-cost public pools (nine of which are indoors, Recreation.SLCo.org) make swimming a no-brainer for year-round family fitness. If you take your kids, they’ll keep you burning calories while you show them how to float on their backs or encourage them to learn their strokes. Water slides and lazy rivers appeal to both kids and adults. The key is to move as much as your kids do. If you go with a partner, cover for each other so one can swim laps while the other splashes with the young’uns. It’s hard to believe you can entertain the family for around $4 per person. If you’re not bringing the kids, check out the county’s wide-ranging aquatic classes, from aqua zumba and jazzercize to water aerobics and kickboxing. (Jerre Wroble)

The Big Box Bun Off
So, you’ve blown out your lower back and hate to walk … but you know you really should. Who says you have to use a treadmill (because you won’t)? There are lots of tricky means to get your walk on. One simple way is to traverse a big-box store using a grocery cart as a walker (and to rest your back as need be). Just begin briskly walking the outer aisles of the store, in the shape of a square. Walk around a few times till you feel your heart rate rising and keep it going. If you need dog food, all the better. Load up that cart. Then start criss-crossing the box store till you feel you’ve had a decent workout … and completed your shopping. Just try to bypass the free food samples so you don’t undo all your hard work. (JW)

Pant, Then Paint
If the gray and the cold of northern Utah’s winter is bringing you down, consider signing up for one of four Southern Utah Museum of Art annual art hikes. Sponsored by Southern Utah University, the free art hikes take participants to inspiring outdoor vistas. Artists can gain inspiration for their art and possibly capture that image while in the company of a well-known professional artist and a park ranger who’ll educate you on the many natural wonders you’re seeing. Hikers are encouraged to bring their own art supplies and cameras to capture the natural beauty for themselves, along with a knapsack full of a nourishing lunch, warm clothes, water and first-aid supplies. The next hike is still being organized, so call 435-586-5462 or check in at SUU.edu/pva/suma for more details. (JW)

Hula Moves
Exercising without leaving the house is a hermit’s dream, but unless you’ve got an empty room to outfit with a treadmill and all the stuff you need to do a DVD workout, it’s still a hassle. Don’t despair: There’s a core-sculpting tool that’s cheap, quiet, easy to use and small enough to store behind the couch. And it might even be in your garage. That’s right—the humble hula-hoop can tone your abs, arms and thighs. First, practice the basic side-to-side hula move until you’ve got it down and can keep it around your waist for a full minute. Once you’ve got your groove down, buy an adult-size weighted hoop (local manufacturer Salty Hoops sells its hoops at Pib’s Exchange, 1147 Ashton Ave., or via saltyhoops@gmail.com) to increase the shaping results. Then, try more complicated moves to keep the hoop in motion, like rocking your body forward and backward, or spinning the hoop on your outstretched arms. You’ll forget you’re exercising, and by the time you’ve mastered the moves, you’ll be grass-skirt ready for summer. (RP)

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Between a Rock &  A Hard Place
In bouldering, each route—a series of holds and moves from the bottom to the top of a rock boulder—is called a problem. It’s the best word for it, because climbing is like the physics of outdoor sports: You have to figure out exactly how to use your body in unfamiliar ways that require grace, flexibility, strength and a little grit. Many would-be rock warriors begin with bouldering because of the low start-up investment (around $300 for shoes, chalk bag and a crash pad) and the abundance of outdoor spots in close proximity, like the Cottonwood canyons, plus world-class areas like Joe’s Valley a few hours away. The Front Climbing Club (1450 S. 400 West, Salt Lake City, 801-466-7625, TheFrontSLC.com) is an excellent indoor option to stay (or get) fit during the winter. For an endurance workout or to prep for rock climbing and rope work, try gyms that offer taller routes, upward of 70 feet, like Momentum Climbing (220 W.10600 South, Sandy, 801-990-6890, MomentumClimbing.com) and Rockreation (2074 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City, 801-278-7473, Rockreation-SLC.com). (AD)

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Pitch a Fit
It’s technically a gym, but zoning out on the treadmill is not allowed. CrossFit is “elite fitness” for people of all ages. CrossFit’s group programs train you in 10 different fitness areas, including stamina, strength, speed, agility, coordination and accuracy for a broad level of fitness that’ll have you ready to enter the Hunger Games, win a cage-fighting tournament or fit into your suit for an upcoming wedding. Salt Lake City has two main CrossFit companies: Salt Lake City CrossFit (3955 Wasatch Blvd., Salt Lake City, 801-251-0714; 619 S. 600 West, Salt Lake City, 801-597-8503, SLCCrossFit.com) and Ute Crossfit (543 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City; 1006 E. Draper Parkway, Draper, UteCrossFit.com). When you first join, you’ll often get a few one-on-one classes to become familiar with the equipment and basic moves. Then, it’s on to the group sessions, where members do the Workout of the Day (WOD), with weight and intensity adjusted for personal ability. Workouts last from 15 minutes to 40 minutes and are so intense that it’s recommended members not CrossFit more than four times per week. (RP)

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