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Photo courtesy of Sabrina Bowman

Let’s get (oddly) physical! Best ways to stay in shape in strange and wonderful ways

By Apartment613 on March 8, 2011

Post by Sabrina Bowman

I’m not really a team player. Oh sure, I work well enough with others, but when it comes to team sports, I’m inept and get sulky when I can’t play well (which is pretty much always). But like many of you out there, I like to stay in shape. While Ottawa has lots of conventional fitness options such as going to the gym, running, and pumping iron, I’ve come to realize that our fine city offers many more, uh, alternative fitness options. Below are some options for getting in shape in strange and wonderful ways.


Round a quiet parking lot in the back of a building exists a room of ‘bounciful fun’. With six Olympic-sized trampolines, Spring Action Trampoline Club provides a most excellent venue for bringing back that jumping on the bed feeling, except way higher and with flips! You can sign up for lessons, do drop-in classes, or even compete. Each class is staffed with experienced trampoliners so you can learn safely, and there’s even an adults-only session so you don’t have to be shown up by eight-year olds. They also offer party bookings, so you can grab 15 of your closest friends and reach for the sky (or seriously injure yourself).


At a diminutive 5’2, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to tower over everyone else. Imagine the power! The fame! The glory! Okay, a few extra inches might not make that happen, but being taller is pretty freakin’ cool, and you can get this experience by learning how to stilt with the Ottawa Stilt Union. Although they don’t offer regularly-scheduled classes, they do host occasional workshops. Contact them to find out more.

Hula-hooping (also known simply as “hooping”)

Remember when you were a kid, and you’d hula-hoop as long as you could (which, in my case, would be approximately three seconds before the hoop would fall to the ground and I’d be left standing there shaking as if I was having a seizure). Well, now you can bring back those happy memories, and get fit too! Mini-Cirque, a circus and performance art school, is offering beginner hooping classes starting April 6th. Sorry fellas: this one’s only for women. However, other places offer classes around town in case you boys wanted to get your hoop on.

Spinning Poi

Mini-Cirque also offers Poi Spinning classes. Originally from New Zealand, poi involves spinning weighted balls at the end of a rope or a piece of fabric. It sounds simple, but poi can be tricked out to include LED lights and glow-in-the-dark materials. And for you pyros out there, you can even spin with fire. Spring session starting soon!

Roller Derby

This one is also for ladies only – ladies who like to cuss, jump, hit, and dress up fiercely in ripped tights, skirts, kneepads and helmets. Roller derby involves racing around a track, with one member of each team (the “jammer”) lapping the other team. It’s fast, aggressive, and lucky for us, Ottawa’s got not just one but two teams. Sign up for an open house to learn the basics and become “fresh meat.” Then, fill in for other players as a “free agent” and graduate to a full-fledged house-league team member.


Have you been told that the Lord of the Rings is fiction? That you can’t be the next Braveheart? Well, now you can turn and laugh at those naysayers by learning how to sword fight. There are both Japanese and Western (European) styles being taught in Ottawa.

Japanese sword-fighting lessons in Ottawa include Kenjutsu, also known as “sword art”, as well as Kendo and Iaido, modern sword-fighting based on traditional techniques. Click here and here for more info.

For lessons in western or European styles, you can take traditional fencing classes through the EXO Ottawa Fencing Club. There is also a course in “chivalrous sword handling” offered at the Plant Recreation Centre. The spring session starts April 10th through Ottawa Parks and Recreation. Can’t get enough? You can also join the Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild and put your new skills into practice. They aren’t accepting new members now, but keep an eye on their website to find out if vacancies open up.

Got other strangely spectacular ways of getting in shape? Post your suggestions in the comments!

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