With deadlines, classes and exams to think about, finding time to exercise can often feel like an impossible task. However, it’s important to remember that little things go a long way, so doing just a few minutes of stretching in the morning can make a big difference to the day.
Finding a workout that can be done from your bedroom or living room is a great way to ensure that you get your daily dose of exercise. Although floor exercises, HIIT routines and weights all have their benefits, making sure our workouts are varied is important for body, mind and maintaining motivation.
That’s why we have looked to countries around the world, finding more meditative practices, traditional dances and martial arts to give both balance and variety to your exercise routine.
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that pairs drumming with dynamic kicks, flips and handstands and can help to develop core strength and flexibility. It was first brought to Brazil in the 16th century by West African slaves, and practiced as a dance to side-step laws forbidding martial arts and is now an important part of Brazilian cultural heritage.
Although the high kicks and handstands may seem intimidating to try from home, beginner videos are available online and many capoeira centres offer live-streaming sessions.
Rajio Taisō or Radio Calisthenics
Originating in Japan in 1928, Rajio Taisō was first invented to commemorate Emperor Hirohito. Still broadcasted on NHK Radio at 6am every day, Radio Calisthenics are more of a gentle, morning warmup than a full-body workout, promoting a healthy, sociable start to the day, and requiring no more than a radio.
Groups of socially distanced people performing their Rajio Taisō exercises are a common sight across Japan, as well as in China and Taiwan. However, for those who are isolating, video-guided calisthenics are easily accessible online.
The benefits of yoga are deep and diverse, which is why the practice has endured for over 5,000 years. Yoga can be traced back to North India but is today practiced worldwide, with even more people taking to their mats during lockdown.
With research suggesting that doing yoga can reduce anxiety levels by 40%, it is about far more than just physical health. For example, yin yoga uses slow poses held for longer periods of time to target deep tissues and focus the mind.
Ashtanga vinyasa is more dynamic, synchronising the breath with faster movements. There is a thriving YouTube community of yoga teachers promoting yoga for all, so videos for all abilities and tastes are free and easily accessible.
Qigong is often described as moving meditation, a Chinese martial art combining gentle movements with breathing exercises. Dating back as far as 4 000 years ago, the ancient Chinese practice became more prominent during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the mid-1900s, much like Tai Chi.
The gentle movements involved mean that it is a martial art easily performed in a bedroom or living room, with no equipment needed.
Kukuwa is an African dance fitness group, getting the world dancing in their rooms to the call of “Move your boombseys”. With videos set to music and rhythms from across Africa, Kukuwa’s dance tutorials are high energy and vibrant, breaking down each move to suit beginner, intermediate or experienced dancers.
Determined to bring a little fun to fitness, the positivity of the Kukuwa dancers is infectious and the sunny backdrops provide a necessary antidote to the shorter September evenings.
We hope that you take some inspiration from these international workout routines, and make the time to give some of them a go. If there are any that you specifically enjoy, be sure to let us know!