Five fun adventures to make you stronger and happier

Five fun adventures to make you stronger and happier


Helen Vaughan



centra, "how to get stronger", strength, "Strength training", strong

There are plenty of really fun sports that can boost your strength, so you’re getting fitter and stronger without really noticing all the work you’re doing. We bring you five of our favourite sports to build strength as part of the Centra Restart 21-day Strength Challenge.

We've come up with our pick of activities that will build strength in your core and other areas, but you’ll never really feel like you’re doing a workout. Enjoy!


This content was brought to you in association with the Centra Restart 21-day challenge to help you get active. This month focuses on strength training, so read Pat Divilly’s training tips and use some of these sports to help build on that. Also, please share your contribution to the Centra 21-day challenge using #livewell to be in with a chance to win a prize. 



1) Skiing

Skiing is incredibly good fun and appeals to both super sporty and non-sporty people. Yes, fitness helps, but plenty of people ski and snowboard that don’t take part in other sports, so don’t be put off. There’s nothing like the buzz of being at the top of a mountain in the fresh air, on a bright sunny day with a fresh powder run of white snow to ski down. Now while that experience is tricky enough to find on the Emerald Isle, the good news is you can recreate the experience and benefit from the joys of a skiing workout at both the Ski Centre in Sandyford, Dublin, and the Ski Club of Ireland in Kilternan, Dublin.


Skiing is great for strengthening your legs as they do most of the exertion. Your thighs are worked really hard as you keep your knees bent most of the time. To get strong, you need to train your quadriceps (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh) and gluteal muscles (in your bum) with deep squats, lunges, step ups, cycling and walking up hills. 


A strong core is also critical for good skiing and the sport is brilliant for improving your balance. 


For ski bunnies, why not join the Outsider ski trip to one of the most picturesque ski fields in the world, the Dolomiti/Superski area in Italy in March. We’ll thrill and test you with our four on-piste guided ski tours.

Join Centra's Restart 21-day strength challenge here #LiveWell


2) Trampolining/Jumping


What better way to get fit than to bounce your way to a stronger you? Trampoline gyms are a great way to let your inner child loose while also doing fitness training. Jump Zone in Sandyford in South Dublin offers interval training, weights and pure fun in their court-sized rooms of up to 40 trampolines joined together. 


It’s great for strength training as it works any muscles that are moving all over your body including the wobbly bits! Fans say it’s great for cellulite. And your core gets a workout too as you need control to hold your position as you bounce. Using dumb bells, fitness balls and resistance bands can add a bit of zing to the workout too. And the good news is that you can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour during these sessions.


3) Surfing


Surfing is a brilliant way of getting to have fun and get fit in the sea. It can be really hard to be any good, but falling off is half the craic while you’re learning! Using a shorter, softer boogie board can be a more forgiving way to start getting used to the waves, because you hold on to it lying down. You can then progress to an actual surfboard where you stand up on the wave. 


Building strength will greatly boost your chances of being a good surfer, as you need to be able to use your arms to paddle for long periods, be flexible and have good balance to stay standing and ride the waves. It’s also important to have good endurance and core strength to balance on the board.

Join Centra's Restart 21-day strength challenge here #LiveWell


To train, surfers often swim, do free weights or body weights, and they sometimes use balance boards to practice on a wobbly board. For better flexibility, warm up before you go surfing. Sports like yoga and pilates can also boost your mobility and flexibility.


If you’d like to give surfing a go, we highly recommend TurfnSurf school and lodge in Bundoran, Co Donegal. Once the spring arrives, they can even pick you up by bus from Dublin. 


4) Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP)


Stand-up paddle boarding or SUPing as it’s known involves standing on an extra-long board (like a giant surfboard!) and using a single paddle either side of it to propel yourself forward on water. The sport is hugely popular with celebrities the world over because it gives them such a good core workout and really helps improve strength and balance.


There are claims it can burn up to 800 calories an hour. It’s also relatively easy to get started (compared to skiing for example) if you have reasonable balance, and you can finesse your technique.


To get stronger, you can do push ups to boost your upper body, burpees for both strength and anaerobic fitness, squats for your legs and planks to build your core muscles. Switch it up with a side plank and leg lifts while planking. Yoga can be great for SUPing, with many people doing yoga while on the water.


Once you’ve got the hang of it, you just need to find some lovely picturesque places to paddle around! Paddle boarding at dawn is a particularly lovely time. If you’d like to give it a go, get in touch with Surf Dock on Dublin’s Grand Canal Basin.


5) Wake boarding


Wake boarding is like water skiing except you’re on a single board riding sideways rather than on two skis. It’s exceptionally good fun! If you’re doing it for the first time, you don’t need a huge amount of skill, but an ability to hold on tight is helpful!


If you want to get into the sport, a strong core is central to wake boarding, given that you’re constantly balancing between the pull of the rope in your hands and the push of the board on the water. If you get that wrong, you’re dunked into the water. A strong mid section also helps the fact that your feet and hips are always facing sideways on the board, and your torso is twisted while your upper body faces forwards holding the rope.


Strength exercises include pull ups to strengthen your arms, shoulders, back and grip, squats/frog hops for your leg muscles, skipping with both feet and one-foot press-ups (on or off a Swiss ball), chin/pull ups (horizontal), diagonal crunches, squats, back extensions, and box jumps.


If you’re keen to give it a go, Surf Dock in Dublin and Ballyhass Wake Park in Ballyhoura have a cable wake boarding systems. And if you’d like to have a go using the traditional system of being pulled by a boat, look up Watermark Ski Club on the Shannon. 


Have a read of our favourite 11 magical mantras to inspire you, or to simply push you out the door as part of the Centra Restart 21-day Challenge!! 


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Five fun adventures to make you stronger and happier

There are plenty of really fun sports that can boost your strength, so you’re getting fitter and stronger without really noticing all the work you’re doing. We bring you five of our favourite sports to build strength as part of the Centra Restart 21-day Strength Challenge.