With one of the most unusual Olympics wrapping up in Tokyo — no spectators and strict pandemic rules but also heartwarming athlete solidarity and groundbreaking firsts — even the most dedicated couch potato might be inspired to get moving. We aren’t suggesting you abandon your weekend lazing to train in heavy-duty hustles like rugby or wrestling, but some stretching of the limbs could certainly put the spring back in your step after lengthy lockdowns. Our take? Make it quirky. With no pressure to medal and a chance to enjoy yourself with childlike abandon, here are some off-kilter activities, both team and solo, to get you up and more than running.
If you’re in America, you’ve probably heard ofpickleball, a merry mutant mix of tennis, badminton and Ping-Pong that’s scored major popularity points in recent times. But the game with a name straight out of an Enid Blyton book is no new invention; the different racquet sport elements were cobbled together by U.S. Congressman Joel Pritchard and friends in the summer of 1965 and named after a ball-chasing dog, Pickles. In the last five years, it’s gone from being a fringe backyard recreation to an internationally recognized sport with a federation. The Sports and Fitness Industry Association reported a pandemic pickleball boom, with participation climbing by 21.3% in 2020. The aim is to get the ball over the net without your opponent hitting back, and the flexible sport can be played both outdoors and indoors, in singles or in pairs. The best part? It’s equally fun for those not equipped with 20-year-young limbs. All you gotta do is grab a partner and say: Hit me with your best shot!
Not a fan of partnering up? No sweat. Rather, break into a good sweat as you test your balanceslacklining. The sport — believed to have started among theCalifornian rock-climbing community in Yosemite Valley — involves balancing on a 1-2 inch-wide piece of nylon or polyester webbing, rigged between two fixed anchor points, usually trees. It might appear similar to tightrope-walking at first glance, but in contrast to steel cables, the “line” in question is designed to be slack, which exacts a more fluid manner of maneuvering. It’s gained in popularity over the past decade, occupying pride of place everywhere from school sports to recreational tourism, physiotherapy to balance training for other competitive sports. Unlike tightropes, slacklines can be set up with minimal effort and gear, or there are numerousslackline parks in the U.S. to give it a whirl. What’s more, there are different variations to the sport: highline, waterline, trickline, rodeoline, yogaline and more, includingnovice slacklines, which almost anyone can try their hand — or rather legs — at.
3. Aqua, Man
Nothing adds the cool to a stuffy Saturday like a water activity, but to throw some definite thrill into the mix, turn tohydrospeeding. Fair warning: Riverboarding or white-water sledging, as it is also known, is not for the faint-hearted. Believed to have originated in theFrench Alps, the activity offers fantastic highs, and probably scenic vistas, since it requires a trip to a white-water river. What do you need to do? White-water raft — minus the raft. Don’t worry, a high-flotation board, padded wetsuit, life jacket, helmet and flippers are all geared toward helping you navigate the rapids and currents in reasonable safety. If you’re confident about your swimming skills (in case you lose your grip on the board), consider this a novel way to immerse yourself, quite literally, in nature when the weekend rolls around.
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Solo downtime or family barbecues, the ideal weekend shape-shifts depending on what you’re up for. When feeling sociable, there are loads of team games to be enjoyed, starting with adult scavenger hunts. Obviously, the idea harks back to those childhood summers of backyard scrambling. Only this time, the clues get complex and the trail rigorous, and one can amp things up by spinning it around a theme. There are loads of companies that offer organized hunts in cities around the world, as well as apps for easy usage. Don deerstalker hats and pipes for a Sherlock Holmes-themed scavenger hunt, or flapper dresses for a Jazz Age jaunt around town that puts the great back in Gatsby. Pack some PB&J sandwiches as an on-theme snack for the latter; commercial brands of peanut butter were rolled outduring the period. Nothing childish about getting your fix of nature, mental challenge, physical activity and after-school snack all in one afternoon.
2. Muggles Like to Move It
Potterheads, did you really think we’d leave you out of our recipe for a magical weekend? Those fluent in Harry Potter already know about a muggle (non-magic)adaptation of Quidditch, the airborne wizarding sport Harry loved as much as treacle tart at school. For those who weren’t accepted to Hogwarts, you can still have a shot at this “mixed gender contact sport” without dangling off a Nimbus — alas, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are yet to manufacture flying broomsticks. What we have figured out is how to fuse more earthly team sports like rugby, dodgeball and tag, with a side of quaffles and bludgers. Inmuggle or ground Quidditch, a team of seven athletes work to prevent the opposing team from scoring, with brooms (the non-levitating kind) between their legs. Make a few tweaks and host your own backyard contest, or join anofficial team governed by U.S. Quidditch. Make sure to follow COVID-19 guidelines, and don’t break any bones. Mending them is just as nasty without the Skele-Gro.
3. Frisbee for the Ages
Many of us harbor fond memories of Frisbee matches when weekend sporting did not require much additional willpower. But to really challenge adult inertia, try a game ofUltimate (Frisbee) — a “non-contact, self-officiated disc sport played by two teams of seven players.” The objective is toscore more goals than the opposing team.Sure, you need a sizable number of participants, but there must be some allure to a flying disc chased down between teams or, better still, friends. The folks atUSA Ultimate would vouch for it. From stealing the show atThe World Games (an Olympic-style multisport event hosted every four years) to building community spirit, ultimately, there are no losers in this one.
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Hula hoops existed way before toy companyWham-O patented and popularized their modern version in the ’60s. Due to their timeless appeal, the activity has survived the digital age and is still a firm favorite decades later. If you frequent the cooler parts of the internet, you’ll have spotted its most recent reinvention, evidenced by hashtags like #hooplove, #hoopflow or the slightly intimidating #sacredcircle. Whether they’re savvy social media influencers, adults looking to shed some quarantine chub or the expanding community of professional hoop artists, the hula hoop is having a revival. With free-flowing dance movements, it is often harnessed as a medium thatconnects body and mind. Some hoopers take the show tohealing landscapes, others let loose in theconfines of their bedroom, and still others swivel the magic ring to the beat of Bollywood music while wearing asari. Start slow with this easymove; you’ve got all weekend.
2. Go With the Flow
As with reinvented hooping, the notion of leaning into your body and its natural rhythm lies at the core of theflow movement. Sometimes called thesomatic dance movement— after soma, or the living body in Greek and New Latin — this is the one time you won’t need coordinated steps (or tequila) to dance. Sure, a few suggested moves can come in handy to kick off your flow, but the process remains deeply personal.Pole dancer and movement teacher Marlo Fisken is credited with starting the trend, which seeks to cut through the clutter and monotony of daily life and help you connect with yourself physically, emotionally and mentally. It gained followers during the pandemic since, like yoga, it’s an activity easily done at home. Online classes are available for free.
3. Monkey Business
Google “mallakhamb” and you’ll come across articles on the traditional Indian sport, captured through the gaze of foreign journalists as “strange'” and “peculiar.” But mull over the common purpose of the hoop and free-flow movements, and it starts to seem less surprising that this crazy-looking form of aerial yoga could serve as a link between physical and mental dexterity. Though more complex than yoga, the sport, practiced mostly on the west coast of India, also enhances mindfulness. In mallakhamb (malla = wrestler; khamb = pole), practitioners are trained in gravity-defying acrobatic postures while suspended from a wooden pole, cane or rope. It has its roots in the mythology of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, which adds to its odd, mystical aura. But odd is cool in our brave new world, and with some curiosity, you could be part of mallakhamb’s emergence from regional obscurity into an accessible activity— even if you aren’t up for any monkey business.
Are you someone who takes pride in turning up everywhere, from the gym to the supermarket, dressed to the nines? Then we can’t possibly let you embark on this rough-and-tumble weekend of games and sports looking anything less than fashionably fabulous. Cover all your bases with Versace’s opulent set of activewear, with a gym sweatshirt and pants in classic black for that ninjalike silhouette.
2. Strong and Safe
A quality yoga mat is probably the smartest investment you’ll make in your journey toward well-being. This high-density, ultrathick option with double-sided, nonslip surfaces will ensure that when you push your body to new limits, you’ll land right back on your feet. There’s gray for the austere yogis and blue and yellow for those who like to add a pop of color to their fitness routine.