You Don't Have to Be a Jock to...

Love Your Workout

Let’s be honest: Basketball, soccer, and track aren’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you need to sideline yourself from breaking a sweat. You just need to think outside the . . . playing field. Plenty of nontraditional sports—even things you may have loved back when you had recess!—are actually good for you. They get your blood flowing, stretch and strengthen your muscles, and even calm your mind. And when you’re active, you sleep better, which not only improves your mood (bye, crankiness) but also helps you concentrate in class (hi, better grades). So think about the kinds of things you’re into, then check out these cool ideas for how to up your sports game.

If You Are Into Hip-Hop Dancing

Try: CAPOEIRA

What it is: This combination of martial arts, dance, and gymnastics was originally used in Brazil for self-defense but is now an official sport with defined rules. The kicks, flips, and lunges will give you a total body workout. Other benefits include increased flexibility and core strength. Plus, showing off your new moves on a dance floor—or anywhere—will give you a real confidence boost.

Teen who does it: Isabella “Ninja” Zapanta, 16, Ewa Beach, HI

“My mom and I saw capoeira in Step Up 3 and I fell in love. Capoeira gives me a freedom to express how I feel through body movements. It’s also taught me discipline, patience, responsibility, body awareness, confidence, and that anything is possible as long as you put the time into it.”

How to get started: There are capoeira academies around the country, but if you can’t find one nearby, you can get inspo by searching for #capoeirista on Instagram. To learn basic moves, watch intro to capoeira videos on YouTube.

If You Miss Recess

Try: JUMPING ROPE

What it is: There’s more to jumping rope than skipping while reciting a rhyme. Not only are there more than 100 next-level tricks—jumpers call them “skills”—there’s also speed jumping, double Dutch (jumping between two ropes), freestyle, and team competitions. Whichever you choose, you’ll get a great cardiovascular workout. Even plain jumping has its benefits: It builds stamina, and a few minutes of rhythmic jumping can help calm anxiety.

Kid who does it: DJ Bethell, 11, Miami, FL

“I started jumping rope when I was 7. My dad is a coach, and I saw all the cool things he could do. I practiced a lot—speed, freestyle, and double Dutch. My favorite thing is single-rope speed because I’m fast! It’s fun being able to show off what I can do.”

How to get started: Grab a jump rope! Dig out your old one or buy a new one (about $15). If you’re jumping inside and want to go fast, look for one made of vinyl. A segmented rope, made from separate pieces of plastic, is slower and easier. You’ll find loads of jump rope workouts and tricks online.

If You Love Fantasy Fiction

Try: LARPING

What it is: There are a lot of different ways to LARP, or live action role play, but the basic idea is that a bunch of people dream up a fantasy world, take on the roles of different characters, and bring the whole thing to life in a park. LARPing is not only a great workout for your imagination but also your body: Some LARPs involve mock combat (with “boffers,” which are weapons made of foam) or obstacle courses. LARPing also helps you learn how to work with people and improves your logic and planning abilities—skills that will come in handy for more real-life situations than you can imagine!

Teen who does it: Ava McBurney, 14, Arlington, MA

“Sometimes, you’re running back and forth across a field and you can go a far distance and not realize it! LARPing has taught me about sticking with my choices and how to advocate for myself. When I’m being a character, people aren’t judging me, they’re judging the character, which gives me confidence.”

How to get started: Larping.org lists LARPs in your area that are accepting new players. (They may even have boffers you can borrow!)

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Skills Sheets (6)
Skills Sheets (6)
Skills Sheets (6)