A lot has changed since we were prepubescent-ly sweating sans deodorant through middle school P.E. class. For example, sit-ups are no longer considered practical. Static stretching before a workout is basically a waste of your time. And don’t even get us started on sweat pants. Those suckers belong in the trash. What hasn’t changed is that the games we played -- like dodgeball, steal the bacon, and capture the flag -- are still freakin’ awesome. That’s why we want you to bring that nostalgic, fun feeling of gym class you had as a kid to your workout today. Here’s how you should update your workout based on your favorite gym class activity.
If you liked climbing rope: The day your P.E. teacher let down the climbing ropes was the day you felt most excited about gym class (both above and below the waist).
Then you’ll like rock climbing: Ascending those weirdly-sexual climbing ropes as a kid truly tested your upper body strength, and proved how undaunted you were by heights. At a rock climbing or bouldering gym, you’ll feel the same thrills and chills you felt dangling 15-feet above your classmates way back when. Oh -- and you’ll get a serious arm workout.
If you liked relay races (or tag): Even though you didn’t change for gym class, being known as the smelly kid by eighth period didn’t deter you from running for 30 minutes straight in an epic game of tag or beating out your fastest classmates in a winner-takes-all relay race.
Then you’ll like running: Most of the functioning human race will never understand you -- but that’s okay, because there is a special group of people that will. These people are called “runners,” and while they are frowned upon by most of society, they do have a niche group with whom they can compare the shortness of their shorts and the tightness in their calves. Join a local running club, hit the streets or track on your own, or find a treadmill gym like New York City’s Mile High Run Club.
If you liked kickball: Okay, let’s be honest: Everybody liked kickball. But if there’s that one game you still think about today (you really should have won), then you were a true fan -- who devoted the kind of intensity and commitment to the game that a helicopter parent hopes their child has for piano practice.
Then you’ll like interval training: By incorporating a variety of exercises into one workout -- like sprinting on a treadmill, strength training, and bodyweight movements -- you’ll get the diversity of a kickball game…with the added benefit of not getting pelted in the face by a ball. Try it out at studios like Barry’s Bootcamp or Orangetheory Fitness.
If you liked dodgeball: You liked using your classmates as target practice, dodging balls to the face, and coveting a “no mercy” attitude.
Then you'll like boxing: Throwing a ball at your opponent is not very different from throwing punches at your rival. All that dodging, dipping, diving, and ducking you practiced during games will pay off when gloves come swinging at your head. Try out a class -- or refine your skills -- at a local boxing studio or a nationwide gym like Title Boxing Club or UFC Gym.
If you liked parachute: If you were one of those bizzarro kids who got a rush of pleasure from feeling a giant piece of communal fabric between your fingers, we’re going to go ahead and suggest you change your sheets. Also, we’ll assume you’re probably the kind of person that really values the experience of a workout over how many calories you burned.
Then you’ll like aerial yoga: Aerial yoga takes regular yoga and adapts the poses to fit inside a large, silky hammock, bringing a weightless feeling to much of the practice. Sound oddly comforting? Give it a try. You’ll be back under the bubble in no time.
If you liked steal the bacon: You weren’t afraid to use wit, skill, luck, and sometimes, brute force to be able to take home the ‘W’ in this balls-out competition. (Reminder: two members of opposite teams must fight in an epic battle for the “bacon,” while a crowded arena -- most likely your classmates -- cheers on.)
Then you’ll like CrossFit: Leveraging your inner strength to complete intense rounds of exercises at record fast speeds will surely bring you back to your carefree days, when bringing home the bacon -- quite literally -- was your most important task. However, the stakes are a bit higher now: Instead of just losing in front of your entire class, your results will be posted on Instagram.
If you liked scooter races: You loved hitting unsafe speeds using only the stubby nubbins of your legs to propel yourself forward. Oh, and you did it backwards.
Then you’ll like megaformer classes: To give you a taste of that navigational balancing act you enjoyed so much as a child stunt artist, we suggest trying a megaformer class. With enough levers and pulleys to equip a small spaceship, megaformers can target the minuscule areas of your body (like your lower left butt cheek), so you’ll feel sore in places you didn’t know existed. Which is way better than, say, a broken leg from a scooter accident.
If you liked capture the flag: You thrived off of competition, a little body contact, and most of all, winning.
Then you’ll like joining a sports league: If just reading about playing capture the flag is causing an adrenaline spike, we recommend joining a local social sports league (think Zog Sports or Play Mile High). Not only will you reinvigorate that competitive streak from the days you guarded that flag with everything you had, but you’re sure to find camaraderie in your new teammates, too.
If you liked red rover: Ripping your classmates’ arms clean from their sockets is hardly what we’d call, “child’s play.” However, if you were a big fan of this ruthless game, you sicko, you loved showing off your guns, and going head-to-head with your opponents.
Then you’ll like indoor rowing class: No, you won’t be trying to actually row through a human body, but you can still demonstrate your above-average arm power and compare ergs rowed with your rivals -- err, classmates -- after the workout.
If you liked obstacle courses: The concept of obstacle courses probably derive from your gym teacher getting high on his or her lunch break and wondering, “WTF am I going to do during fifth period?” But that’s okay, because back then it didn’t matter that completing a dizzy bat before scootering around several cones was ridiculous and would never land you a college scholarship -- it was just fun.
You’ll like parkour: To relive the absurdity of a gym class obstacle course while simultaneously getting a solid workout, sign up for a parkour class. While there may be no real rhyme or reason to becoming a modern-day Spider Man, you'll have a blast doing it anyway. Oh, and you'll look like a badass, too.
Erin Kelly is a writer, runner and triathlete living in New York City. Her favorite part of gym class was getting to skip class. Follow her on Twitter at @erinkellysays.