6 of the funniest and craziest workout trends ever

Unconventional workouts continue to gain popularity.
Unconventional workouts continue to gain popularity.

Looking for an alternative to your stale workout routine? Look no further.

Exercise mask

The exercise mask requires practically no effort, but is considered a legitimate exercise nonetheless. It gained popularity in 1955 and its purpose was essentially to exercise and tone the facial muscles.

A more updated version was later released onto the market in 1999. A doctor explained that the mask does for the face what exercise does for the body, adding that it was “equivalent to doing eight sit-ups per second for your stomach”.

This all happens when the system delivers a mild impulse generated by a 9-volt battery from the control unit to the facial cushion zones in the mask, causing the skin to tighten and tone its muscles. Pretty efficient, but we can’t say we’d enjoy a session reminiscent of something straight out of a horror movie.


Defined by its Floridian creator Joanna Rohrback as a springy, rhythmic movement forward – similar to a horse’s gait – it was a break-up with her fiancé in 1989 that inspired her to get in shape and led to the creation of a rhythmic forward exercise, she said on the Steve Harvey show

The prancercise queen blew up YouTube, and to date, it has had over 14 million views. The exercise incorporates weights that alternate between your ankles and wrists, and according to Dr Charles Platkin, a distinguished lecturer at CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College in New York City who specialises in exercises and calorie-expenditure research, prancercise burns more calories than other exercises like yoga.

Skateboard Pilates

This has become a growing favourite among many Pilates-enthusiasts, thanks to French celebrity trainer Raphael Doub who’s had many others hop on the bandwagon. His workout incorporates a skateboard to mimic the gliding platform of the reformer, and makes it more challenging through the additional strength-training aspect. Doub described the fitness technique to Brit + Co as “a mix between figure skating, rowing, and cross-country skiing”.  If you want the full benefit of Pilates but don’t have the money to invest in a reformer, this is your answer. But if you're intimidated by how challenging it looks, it's probably best to give it a miss.    

Breathing exercises

The Body Flex 18-minute "workout" is essentially a weight-loss programme made up of deep breathing and stretching, followed by additional exercises with a Body Flex Gym Bar. The breathing specifically focuses on toning facial muscles. The well-known exhale, as explained by Greer Childers in the company’s infomercial, is a diaphragmatic exhalation, which, if done correctly, can strengthen your diaphragm. On the flip side, it could cause you to wreck a lung.The ad had many people buy into it. However, the company was later charged with false advertising by the Federal Trade Commission since their claims of the workout being the “secret to burning fat” were found to be deceptive and unsubstantiated. 

Backwards running

We’re not kidding. Backwards (or reverse) running started as a rehabilitation exercise in the US in the 1970s, according to The Conversation and gained popularity outside the rehab walls around 2013. The world’s fastest backwards runner Aaron Yoder told Men's Health that after running forward for two decades, he suffered a severe knee injury and was advised by his doctor to stop running. Turns out reverse running worked out perfectly for him, as it ended up having little impact on his knee.

Quite an appealing notion, but on the negative side there’s an increased risk of falling, which, let’s face it, could result in more than just a knee injury.

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Exercise Selection: running - Take a fundamental movement like running and play with as many variations as possible while managing the load in a way that constantly challenges the athlete, but doesn’t cause distress. - This team has been through the gauntlet of running workouts. 1-3 week cycles progressing the following variations seems to be working quite well for their conditioning as well as improving headspace for enduring physical discomfort. - •time trials for distance •uphill endurance bouts •short hill sprints •various field sport run tests •games of tag and capture the flag •change of direction focus •backwards •side shuffling •skipping •pushing light prowlers •dragging light sleds •holding fishing weights (few ounces)

A post shared by Michael Ryan B.S., CSCS (@michael.ryan.kinesiology) on

Goat yoga

Yes, goat yoga is a thing. Yoga has clearly developed varied techniques over the years (laughter yoga is widely popular), but "goga" takes the cake. Celebs like Khloe Kardashian, Kevin Hart and Sophie Turner have taken a liking to this craze, with Turner remarking in a Vogue interview, “I’ve never felt that excited about anything in my life, ever...”

Lainey Morse was originally responsible for bringing the idea to life back in 2016, and eventually had people pay $35 (around R500) to attend her sessions in a barn with goats. The idea was to fuse relaxation techniques with the mind and body practice. This is achieved when the goats’ hooves provide a bit of a massage as they move along your body, trying to maintain their balance. Bahhh-maste (sorry, we had to).  

Image credit: iStock

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