In its long, illustrious and occasionally controversial history, the modern Olympics has featured a huge variety of sports. Games like squash continue to campaign for a place on the program, regular events like athletics are staple fixtures while others come and go like the tug of war which made its last appearance in 1920 and golf which makes its Olympic debut in 2016.
Whatever your sport trying something new is great for the body and mind; setting new physical challenges and working the body in a new way are powerful motivators. Plus, the learning curve is steep if your chosen Olympic sports are new, so in addition you’ll soon be enjoying a genuine sense of achievement.
So make this the year you try some Olympic sports, here are our five suggestions…
1. Beach volleyball
This is a great one because playing on a sandy surface barefoot is a fantastic workout for the legs, both in terms of building strength and advancing stability. The sand also provides a welcome soft landing when you fall, encouraging you to take greater risks than you might on a hard surface.
An informal game of volleyball needs only involve two people and is great for upper body strength. It will also tone your arms and work your legs like nothing else on the Olympic program. And at 580 calories per hour you’re in the perfect place to enjoy a well-earned post-match siesta.
If you get the chance to mess about on the river you can have great fun on your own or in a group rowing along it. There are plenty of boathouses and rowing clubs countrywide hiring out rowing boats for a reasonable price, so the initial outlay is low.
Rowing will tone your upper back, arms and abs phenomenally. But don’t be deceived in thinking only the upper body benefits, the butt, thighs and lower legs all play an important part in the process making it very much an all-over body workout. In addition, the views from the river will make the exercise all the more enjoyable.
And if water’s not your thing, how about getting all the Olympic sports benefits on an indoor rowing machine?
3. Mountain Biking
If you don’t own a mountain bike there are numerous places you can hire one, many forest venues have decent bikes for hire and they’re typically located in some great countryside, so it’s worth the drive to enjoy exercise with a view.
Cycling over rough terrain gets your core stabilisers strong, cycling uphill for prolonged periods is fantastic for stamina, and if you need to lift your rear from the seat to pedal you’ll be toning your tush really tight.
Remember what goes up must come down, so if you make it to the top of the hill under your own steam the wonder of gravity will bring you back down it and give your legs a rest.
Make sure you’re protected with a good helmet though, because something as innocent as a tree root can bring you off the bike. And prepare to get muddy too, even in the warmer weather the moisture in the soil remains in wooded areas. It’s also wise to have a sat nav device with you and follow an agreed route so you don’t get lost and you don’t lose any bike buddies.
Gymnastics is not just for kids and when school’s out there’s usually additional capacity at your local club. Gymnastics builds strength and flexibility in equal measure and is as great for confidence boosting as it is for calorie consumption.
Most clubs have training tools to support the body in positions you’ll eventually hold on your own. And when you do find yourself in a crab or a headstand the childlike joy that results is as good as travelling back in time to the school playground when you achieved such things first time around.
Don’t worry if you don’t own a leotard, standard sportswear will do, so get yourself on the mat.
Most public pools have specific days and times where the main pool is dedicated to public lane swimming and whatever your stroke, swimming is a fantastic way to get fit.
Low-intensity breast stroke takes up 360 calories per hour, higher up the scale front crawl consumes 600 while butterfly is a whopping 900 calories per hour – not that we expect you to last that long! Why not try to apply the principles of interval training to maximise calorie burn as well as the range of muscles you use by varying the strokes in your swimming session?
Every swimming stroke is a full-body exercise, so whichever you do you will exercise yourself top to toe. Plunge during a busy period and you’ll work even harder as you’ll have the added resistance of moving water to deal with. Maybe even try a swim in the sea for an even greater challenge as swimming against the waves will work you harder still!
If you need any swimming gear to get started then have a look at the swimming department in our online store. For everything else, whether for Olympic sports or other sporting and fitness gear, check out our store homepage.