One way to learn about other cultures is to study their varied forms of exercise. By participating in these practices you are bound to gain an insight into the people and their way of life. From Polynesian-inspired hula routines to karate and krav maga, these workouts from around the world will help you burn lots of calories and maybe have you smiling at the same time. 

A man with dreads in a yoga pose
These top home workouts bring a bit of world culture into your fitness routine © Halfpoint Images / Moment / Getty

Krav maga

Krav Maga came along in the 1930s thanks to Imi Lichtenfeld. It is an efficient and brutal form of self-defense characterized by simple, natural body movements, with an emphasis on explosive striking. To learn the techniques of both, visit the Global Martial Arts University YouTube channel. And, believe it or not, you can actually earn your black belt completely online. You’ll complete assignments, take tests, be graded by a real instructor and earn real rank from home. It typically takes about three years.

Latin dance

If you prefer to burn calories through dancing, Figure 8 Fitness is a solid option. It includes seven Latin dance styles that will get your heart rate going. Merengue targets the obliques. Samba targets the front abs. Salsa targets the entire core 360 (front, sides and back). Paso Doble targets the legs, thighs and glutes. Jive targets the entire body head to toe. Rumba targets obliques and thighs. Bolero targets legs, obliques, back and arms. It’s a high-energy program that helps with balance, stamina, flexibility, muscular strength, rhythm, flexibility and coordination. Register online and then download the app here. You can stream classes on Apple TV, Roku and any smart device. If you are old school, however, order the DVD package.


India is said to be the birthplace of yoga. It gained steam in the US in the 1920s and 30s and then exploded in popularity in the 70s. These days, there are plenty of ways to get your Zen on. Peloton offers a variety of classes from restorative yoga to power yoga. You can also access guided meditations, including sleep meditations. Added bonus: you can filter classes by music preference and instructor. It’s developed a cult following thanks to the collective, interactive setup, which makes the workouts that much more fun. Other classes include boot camps, cardio, cycling, running and strength workouts. Download the app here. Right now, their 30-day free trial period has been extended to 90 days.

Yoga with Adrienne is another popular option. She offers free yoga videos and guided meditations on YouTube. Some classes focus on the whole body, while others narrow in on specific areas like shoulders, back and arms. Yoga with Adrienne also comes in an app version, which requires a monthly subscription. It offers 100-plus hours of yoga and mediation.

Tai Chi (Taijiquan) and Qigong

Tai Chi (Taijiquan) and Qigong are closely related and should always be practiced together. Tai Chi, an ancient form of exercise said to date back as far as 1500 years, was created as a fighting art based on the Taiji philosophy.

The beauty of a tai chi or qigong class is that almost anyone can do it. The gentle and graceful form of exercise is easy on the joints and helps build strength without having to lift weights. With the end goal of moving in the most efficient and powerful way possible, it is meant to train the entire body and mind.

Experts say it helps reduce anxiety and stress. Whether you are perfecting your “white crane spreads its wings” move or your “wave hands like clouds” move, it is exercise as much as it is therapy. Water Dragon Arts offer videos on Instagram and also offers online courses.

Hot Hula

Hula dancing, it goes without saying, is embarrassing for a lot of us non-coordinated folks. But it is a fabulous total-body workout that will likely inspire some giggles along the way. Sway your hips from to and fro and shake your belly like nobody’s business all while isolating your larger muscle groups and increasing strength and definition in your core.

Hot Hula fitness classes specifically target the abs, glutes, quads and arms. Inspired by the dances of the Pacific Islands, it incorporates easy-to-perform dance movements set to the sounds of traditional Polynesian drum beats. The challenge is to not move anything above your belly button, except for your arms, that is. Note: It’s highly possible that you might have trouble walking the next day. Stay tuned to the Hot Hula Fitness Facebook page to find out when live workouts are available.

You might also like:
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