Ice climbing, axe throwing and dancing in the dark... Who says you need a gym to get fit?

It’s only a few days in to the New Year and already my resolutions are slipping. Tone up, wind down, cut out this, eat more of that. I’m already exhausted.

If you too are flailing at the thought of hitting the gym alongside hundreds of fellow newbies, then it’s perhaps time to find your fitness fix in something a little more interesting.  

From lobbing axes to trampoline classes, these are the alternative workouts that will make you yearn for your fitness gear throughout 2018.  

Dancing in the Dark, Chorlton

For those of us less body confident, the thought of hitting the gym, rolls in tow, whilst pretty fit bits flaunt about in crop tops seems like borderline abuse. Whilst gym bunnies are no doubt more concerned with what they’re doing than watching you try to unhook your wedgey mid-treadmill, the niggling thoughts of looking silly can put people off the gym altogether. Fortunately, Chorlton’s dancing in the dark offers a judgement-free, fun-fuelled workout where silliness and sweat is guaranteed. There’s no booze, zero inhibitions and the lack of lighting means that it doesn’t matter if you boogie like Beyoncé or your uncle Barry – no one can see you anyway. Participants pay a £3.50 entry fee, before gearing up with glowsticks and busting moves for a solid hour in total darkness, totting up 8,000 steps per session.

Book here

Indoor ice climbing, Deansgate

Forget lifting weights, yoga trends and new-age practices. For a truly unique workout this January, try indoor ice climbing. Discreetly housed at Deansgate’s Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports store, the iced vertical wall provides a realistic test environment for beginners and experienced climbers to learn winter climbing techniques and with the latest equipment. The indoor course starts in the store basement and journeys up to the store floor, with large viewing windows for peeping Toms to watch your workout. Sessions start at £20.

Book here

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Batting cages

Get a taste for baseball at Manchester’s latest sports bar venture: Base Bar. For £25, you and four friends can rent a themed cage – from Yankee Stadium to Wrigley Field – where a ball machine will fire 24 rounds over 30 minutes. Base coaches will be on hand to help you hit a home run, whilst tournaments will see you smash balls in scored leagues. Plus, you can quench your thirst post-workout with Base Bar's selection of drinks. 

Book here

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Base Bar, Manchester

Axe throwing

Don’t throw stuff at the walls – it’s the life lesson every kid learns after scribbling their artistic talent on the blank canvas of their bedroom walls. So, imagine how good it would feel to not only throw stuff at the walls, but to hurl sharp-edged axes? Whistle Punks at the Great Northern Warehouse lets you do exactly that. For £20 (£25 peak), participants can enjoy an hour and half axe-traveganza featuring axe-throwing training tips and essential safety before a testing tournament. Axes are thrown at targets – photos of exes are sadly prohibited.

Book here

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Boogie Bounce

Bouncing around on mini trampolines whilst you scream along to chart topping hits – what’s not to love about Boogie Bounce fitness? The fun, fat-burning class is designed to turbocharge your aerobics workout toning your bum, tum and legs. The wacky workout is even endorsed by NASA, who agree that bouncing is “the most efficient and effective exercise yet devised by man” after studies showed that bouncing around on a mini trampoline is 68% more effective than jogging – and requires less effort. We’re sold.

Find your nearest class here

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Bounce off the bulge at Boogie Bounce

Aerial Workouts

From climbing silks to spinning on suspended hoops, aerial workouts offer intense toning sessions with the added pressure of keeping your body poised on whatever suspended equipment you’re in to. Absolute beginners can learn circus-centric performances whilst handing high in the air, building on core muscles and toning up. Plus, it looks pretty cool too.

Find a class here

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Aerial fitness at Manchester's Cloud Aerial Arts

Freerunning/ Parkour 

This one's for the rebellious, thrill-seekers (with a secret Spiderman infatuation). Freerunning and Parkour works to combines gymnastic like movements with speed, agility and risk assessment. Manchester freerunners, Evolve, have designed classes that work on vaults, leaps, balancing and much more to create an all round parkour/freerunning style as well as improving students strength and conditioning. Before heading out into the streets of Manchester (best not try to attempt scaling Beetham Tower just yet...), Evolve train its pupils in its fully equipped gymnasium based just outside of MediaCityUK. 

Book here

Bear Grylls fitness  

Spinning ninja rings, Tarzan swings and aerial planking across suspended ropes – it’s safe to say that the Bear Grylls assault course offers far more than your average workout. Designed by the challenge-hungry adventurer himself alongside his personal trainer Nat Summers, the functional fitness course will build strength and test your muscles in ways they’ve never been tested before. Those wishing to scale the circuit single-handed can book a one-hour session for £7.95 (£8.95 walk-in). Or for a group experience try the Bear Grylls fitness classes, where an instructor will guide you through a series of HIIT workouts, complete with Grylls’ sense of adventure.   

Book here

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Body Confidential gets the ultimate workout at Bear Grylls Fitness


Whether you want to bounce away the bulge or challenge yourself ‘Ninja Warrior UK’ style, you’re sure to get a workout at KICKair. £10 will get you an hours pass to the Freestyle zone, a play den home to hordes of trampolines, airbags, climbing walls, basketball and both a children’s and adults Ninja course. Fitness has never been so much fun.

Book here

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Qi Gong

Yoga and pilates? So 2017. This year why not take a more traditional approach to wellness and workouts. The Northern Quarter’s Studio 25 is running classes in Qi Gong, a holistic system of posture, movements and meditation that is designed to enhance both your well-being and core - think yoga and Pilates meets meditation and martial arts. It’s an unusual hybrid that offers great health benefits. Classes £6.

Book here

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Qi Gong