Find me a new active hobby
February 26, 2009 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for an active hobby that isn't time restricted or seasonal.

So I'm a big hiking/backpacking fan, and that occupies lots of my time when the weather is nice, but that's just the problem. I get all lazy in the winter or when it's rainy.

I'd like to find a good hobby that is active (read: no video games, etc; I have enough sit-on-the-couch hobbies) that isn't necessarily constrained by weather or time of day. Any suggestions would be helpful.

posted by phrakture to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (34 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Climbing; in a gym during the winter/rain, and outdoors or in the gym in the warm weather.
posted by Wolfster at 12:02 PM on February 26, 2009

I just went orienteering for the first time in years, the club who organized the meet operates year round in the midwest. Other clubs do oddly specific meets, like in the snow or at night. Tons of fun, though it sucks to have your time beaten by a group of school kids who finished the course giggling.
posted by Science! at 12:05 PM on February 26, 2009

Archery. It's great outdoors but there are plenty of indoor ranges too.
posted by valadil at 12:20 PM on February 26, 2009

Bowling. Despite its reputation as a "beer and nachos" activity, bowling singly or in pairs (to prevent long breaks while others bowl) can be excellent cardiovascular excercise. Most bowling alleys offer discounted prices during off-peak hours, so it can be almost as cheap as hiking is.
posted by muddgirl at 12:37 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tennis if you have indoor courts around, but that's less likely.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:37 PM on February 26, 2009

Racquetball is played indoors on a court similar to squash, but with far less rules.
posted by meowzilla at 12:44 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

With good gear snowshoeing even in not so great weather can be a good substitute. My activity is generally swimming [local pool in the cold months, outdoors and indoors in the nice months] but I got a pair of snowshoes last year and it's become a real fun activity that I can change up with swimming. I like swimming from an exercise perspective, but I really want to be outdoors and snowshoeing lets me do that.
posted by jessamyn at 12:51 PM on February 26, 2009

Squash all the way.
posted by AwkwardPause at 12:58 PM on February 26, 2009

Tennis if you have indoor courts. Ditto with soccer. Boxing. Lifting weights. Fencing.

All this stuff is indoors but most can also be done outdoors, given the right equipment and area.
posted by charlesv at 12:59 PM on February 26, 2009

Biking. You can get studded tires for the snowy months of winter or attach the bike to a trainer indoors.
posted by mikepop at 1:09 PM on February 26, 2009

I'll second racqutball. It's indoors, you don't need much gear at all (cheap racquet == $20), it's a great workout (and you can be just as active when you practice by yourself as when you're playing with other people). If you have a university or a YMCA nearby they'll have courts, and probably people looking to play. Just be aware that those walls are hard, and seem to come out of nowhere when you're running around.
posted by Who_Am_I at 1:11 PM on February 26, 2009

How about some sort of circus skill? Juggling, poi, diabolo, unicycling, etc. are all great fun, work well indoors and will keep you moving around. I posted some links about learning in this askMe a little while ago.

Too many people think that juggler=clown but really, it's a physical skill that's great fun to learn. Try it!
posted by metaBugs at 1:15 PM on February 26, 2009

Response by poster: Hmmm, the only qualm I have with some of these suggestions is that they're competition based... some part of me tires of that easily. I prefer activities of the "I accomplished this" rather than "I defeated that person"
posted by phrakture at 1:15 PM on February 26, 2009

Partner dancing! I could go on and on about all the good things dancing can bring into your life, but to summarize: It's active and good exercise; it's social and a good way to meet people; it's skill-based, which can keep it interesting b/c there's always something new to learn; and it's a way to creatively express yourself. It doesn't require a big investment of gear or time just to check it out--many studios or dance associations will offer free intro lessons, and regular lessons aren't that expensive. I love swing dancing (which is particularly athletic as dances go), but each kind of dance and music has a different culture and flavor, so you have options. Not resticted by weather, although it is somewhat restricted by time of day, since it involves other people. If it's the accomplishment part that you like, you could be ambitious about learning new styles/moves/skills and getting better on the dance floor.
posted by aka burlap at 1:22 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dance Dance Revolution! A video game, sure, but you definitely work up a sweat and get your heart rate going in as quickly as 5 minutes or 1 song. All you need to get started is a ~$20 pad and a free download of the game and songs at Probably not what you were looking for, but definitely a good hobby to stay active and exercise and get calves of STEEL. And it's not competition based!
posted by KateHasQuestions at 1:23 PM on February 26, 2009

posted by Incognita at 1:28 PM on February 26, 2009

Biking works here in the Virginia mountains if you're willing to dress warmly and brave the cold/rain/sleet/wind. And as mikepop mentioned, you can get stationary trainers that you can attach your normal bike to when you decide the weather is just too bad. You might need that in Chicago... brr.

Things you need to know for cold weather cycling: balaclavas are warm, and RapidFire-style shifters (the ones with two levers, one for upshifting and one for downshifting) like to stop working in temperatures significantly below freezing because the ratchet no longer engages properly.
posted by musicinmybrain at 1:29 PM on February 26, 2009

Weight lifting? Yoga? Some form of dance?
posted by np312 at 1:34 PM on February 26, 2009

Response by poster: As a point of order: I am in Chicago. This can change/limit some of these suggestions.
posted by phrakture at 1:55 PM on February 26, 2009

Crossfit training is a great workout and is more of a "personal best" activity rather than a competition.
posted by benzenedream at 2:20 PM on February 26, 2009

An indoor, wintry weather backpacking and hiking substitute that isn't focused on competition but does reward participants with feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction? For somebody who lives in Chicago?


How about summiting the stairwells of your city's multi-storied buildings?

"Why do you climb those stairs?" they will ask.

"Because they are there," you will say.
posted by notyou at 2:31 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding juggling. It's chock full of "I accomplished this" possibilities (three balls, four balls, five balls, seven balls, clubs, torches, hatchets). It can be done solo, with a partner, or with a group. It is *very* good for clearing the mind of workaday woes. It can be more active than you might think. It needn't be theatrical or clowny so even reserved people can do it. And, it can be done while hiking :-)
posted by cairnish at 2:32 PM on February 26, 2009

I don't blame you for wanting to stay inside; Chicago in the winter is gross and dark and slippery.

If you're near a park, check out what classes or volunteer opportunities the Chicago Park District has. Several of them have indoor pools if swimming's your thing.

Yoga, swing dancing, or some form of martial art might be up your alley too.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:34 PM on February 26, 2009

Trapeze or circus acrobatics. Nothing will whip you into shape faster, and it's wildly fun.
posted by 8dot3 at 3:58 PM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]

Swimming! If you have the cash for a membership to somewhere with the right facilities, that is. Bonuses include the possibilities of a sweet hot tub, improved upper arm strength, and a larger chance of not dying if tossed overboard. You can switch up your goals when you get bored, from a certain number of laps or distances to learning new types of strokes and so on.
posted by Mizu at 5:02 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another vote for climbing, indoor walls have proliferated of late.
posted by arcticseal at 5:58 PM on February 26, 2009

Olympic Weightlifting.
posted by tiburon at 6:13 PM on February 26, 2009

If you live near a bouldering/rock climbing gym, that's it. Bouldering is very, very much an "I did that" over an "I can do it better than them" type of environment.

Swimming, as well. I picked up the Total Immersion videos on Netflix, which are essentially "how to swim for 20-70 year olds", and haven't ever been this giddy to get back to the gym next time.
posted by talldean at 6:42 PM on February 26, 2009

Specifically, "Total Immersion: Breaststroke for Everybody", and "Terry Laughlin: Easy Freestyle Swimming". They're not great, but they helped a lot, lot more than the Red Cross in-water class I took. At least, for me.

As far as climbing, bouldering is climbing about 10' high, on more technically challenging courses. You can use a padded mat instead of a rope holding you up. Top roping and lead roping are the two forms of roped climbing; the climber is in a harness, tied to a rope, supported somewhere, and held by a person on the ground. Most climbing gyms have both, and they've both been fun for me.
posted by talldean at 6:45 PM on February 26, 2009

Meditation. It may not seem active enough, but it helps with breathing and focus during other physical activities. You could look up local groups or classes. And you can do it at your own pace when you are not in class.
posted by ALB209 at 7:35 PM on February 26, 2009


Also, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, and sanshou are available in the area.
posted by ignignokt at 11:17 PM on February 26, 2009

Chiming it also with climbing! As competitive as you want it to be and really rewarding. Plus you get in great shape!

a meetup in the Chicago area

Illinois rock gyms
posted by kinakomochi at 12:23 AM on February 27, 2009

Seconding circus, especially on the accomplishment end.
posted by divabat at 5:49 AM on February 27, 2009

Tai Chi. Biking--you can get a stationary trainer if you really don't want to ride outside during the Chicago winters (understandable!) Climbing walls (have to find a gym or mountaineering place that has one), if you're into that sort of thing. Gymnastics? Swimming?

Pretty much anything that happens in a gym, dojo, dance studio, etc....just cross out the competitive options.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:19 AM on February 27, 2009

« Older Looking for glasses   |   Is the greek religion still around? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.