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Unusual Fitness Trends from Around the Globe

March 04, 2022

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Are you ready for some goat yoga? Plogging? Maybe a game of bossaball? People are staying fit with these strange exercise trends and more all around the world.

Australia's Mermaid Swimming

Yes, you're picturing it right—people putting on mermaid-like suits and flapping their way through ocean waters. The contraption has two main parts: a monofin and a mermaid tail. As one mermaid tale manufacturer explains, "the monofin acts as a flipper, giving structure to the ‘fin’ of the mermaid tail and providing more power to your kicks so that you can glide easily through the water." The "mermaiding" trend gained popularity in Australia and has since spread to waters across the world.


Goat Yoga from Oregon

If you're thinking, "goat yoga" can't involve actual goats. It's got to be some sort of goat style, like, maybe, downward dog, right? Nope. We're talking about real goats here. It began as an animal therapy experiment on a farm in Oregon—an outdoor yoga class (humans do the yoga) in which young playful goats are allowed to roam free. And it was awesome. It's hard not to feel wonderful when you're getting in some good stretches and a friendly furry little goat nuzzles in for some love.


Unicycling Across The Globe

Riding one-wheeled bicycles is a popular activity across the world, but especially in the United Kingdom. They've even got an official organization, the Union of UK Unicyclists, and unicycle clubs such as the Brightlingsea Unicycle Club, East Midlands Unicyclists, and the Glasgow Unicycling Club. These adrenaline junkies go off-road for mountain unicycling, endurance riders do road unicycling, while street and freestyle unicycle riders go for tricks and taking on urban obstacles.


Thank Sweden for Plogging

Here's one that helps you stay in shape and also helps to save the planet. Started in Sweden in 2016, plogging is the sport of picking up litter as you jog. The word "plogging" is a hybrid of the Swedish words "plocka upp" (to pick up) and "jogga" (to jog). In the US, the Keep America Beautiful organization is a big proponent of the practice, promoting events like the annual TrashDash runs to clean up local communities.


Bossaball by a Belgian in Spain

While it was invented by Belgian Filip Eyckmans, Spain may have the biggest fans of bossaball. You've probably guessed from the name that there's a ball involved; the sport meshes together parts of football, volleyball, and gymnastics. And the "bossa" part? Extra points if you figured out that's a nod to Bossa Nova and the uplifting samba-style music that embodies the spirit of the game. But the most fun part—bossaball is played on a big bouncy inflatable court!


Cycle Karaoke in America

Yes, it was Japan who brought the fine art of boozy crooning to the world with the advent of karaoke all those decades ago. But it was Americans who took that concept into a spin class! Perhaps a little less fun without the alcohol but still pretty great. Crunch Fitness, which has franchises all across the United States, is credited with the concept. Sing solo or join in on group choruses as you pedal away the pounds.


Parkour in France

In France, the practice of parkour isn't just for thrill-seeking YouTubers out to make click-worthy videos. People clamber up walls, pivot off of posts, and leap from rooftop to rooftop for exercise. Those feats build strength and endurance while the delicate art of walking atop rails helps to hone your balance. This has been going on since the 1990s when David Belle developed the concept, guided by the insights on body movement of his father, a firefighter in Paris.


Castell in Catalonia

This one may not qualify as a trend; castell has been around for over two hundred years. But it's definitely unusual. That is unless your idea of building a human tower is "usual." The Catalan word for "castle," castell mostly takes place at festivals in Eastern Spain. But the training to complete these feats that call for considerable strength and balance takes place all year long.

You may wish to stick with traditional health and wellness trends. That’s fine. But doesn’t some small part of you wish that your exercise classes had a few friendly goats?

Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.

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