If you’re anything like us, you’ll have been glued to the coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for the last couple of weeks. Perhaps it’s inspired you to up your own fitness game or even try a new sport entirely.
When they’re interviewed by the media following a competition or a victory, many Olympic athletes talk about wanting to inspire others and increase participation in their sports in their home countries and around the world.
If running around a track or swimming laps doesn’t appeal to you, here are six fun and unusual Olympic sports that you can have a go at.
In ancient times, archery—using a bow to shoot arrows—was used to hunt food and in combat. But nowadays it’s an incredibly popular sport.
Archery is low-impact, meaning you can give it a go no matter your fitness level. It will improve your upper body strength and cardiovascular fitness. Pulling a bow takes more effort than you’d think! You’ll also build hand-eye coordination, as a high level of accuracy is required to hit the center of the target.
If you’re in the United States, you can check out USA Archery to find a club or course near you. It can be practiced both indoors and outdoors, making it a great all-weather sport.
Fencing is actually three closely-related combat sports in one. The three disciplines of foil, épée, and saber are named after the weapons used, all of which are types of long metal sword. Each discipline has slightly different rules but in all three, points are scored based on making contact with your opponent’s body with your weapon.
Fencing is an intense workout that balances cardio with muscle strength, dexterity, coordination, and focus.
Fencing is a diverse and inclusive sport. The youngest ever Olympic medallist in fencing was just fifteen years old, and the oldest competitor was 64. Fun fact: fencing is one of only five sports to have appeared in every single modern Olympic Games. The other four are athletics, cycling, swimming, and gymnastics.
Check out USA Fencing to find a club near you, or do a Google search for clubs in your city.
Taekwon-Do literally means “the art of kicking and punching”. This Korean martial art became a full Olympic sport at the Sydney Games in 2000 and there is now a thriving global amateur community taking part in the sport.
Taekwon-Do is about both mental and physical discipline. A high level of cardiovascular fitness, dexterity, and flexibility are required to excel in this sport. But don’t worry if you don’t have those things yet - taking Taekwon-Do classes will build them.
When you join a club, you’ll start as a White Belt. You’ll slowly work your way up, earning different colored belts as you progress through the ranks. With dedication and at least twice-weekly training, it’s possible to earn a Black Belt in as little as 3-4 years.
Martial Arts Near You is a great place to find a class.
Skateboarding is not for the faint of heart! This brand new Olympic sport appeared for the very first time in Tokyo this year. It’s fast, thrilling… and dangerous if you don’t take care.
But don’t let that put you off. It just means that you need to take things slowly and not try to copy the tricks you see the Olympic skateboarders pulling off. Skateboarding improves your coordination, balance, and flexibility. It’s also a hugely social sport, so you’re sure to make some friends.
Goskate is a great place to get started and features over 5000 qualified instructors all across the USA.
Surfing refers to using a surfboard to ride waves in an ocean, river, or man-made surfing space such as a wave pool. If you live near the ocean or another suitable location, surfing is a hugely fun pastime that allows you to get outdoors, enjoy the fresh air, and keep fit at the same time.
Surfing is a sport that’s harder than it looks! Good surfers are strong, flexible, and have high levels of cardiovascular fitness. Don’t be disheartened if it takes you some time to successfully catch your first wave. Even those Olympic surfers who make it look effortless started somewhere!
You can get started by booking onto a course at a Surf School or joining a club in your local area. Boardcave is a great place to find courses in your area.
Whatever sport you decide to try, remember to take it slowly and listen to both your instructor and your body. Most of us will never stand on an Olympic podium, but these brilliant sports really are for everyone with the passion to pursue them.