Summer Sports for the Non-Athlete by Emily Hingle
The summer sun is beckoning people to come and play outside, and you’ll notice that parks and green spaces are full of people enjoying all manner of games. I love watching a great game of kickball or volleyball, but I’m not athletically-inclined enough to join, in lest I want to receive a face full of dirt. I opt instead for less strenuous, simpler fun to get my heart pumping. If you want to get out there and play, but can’t handle super intense, high-impact sports, there are definitely some options for you.
- Hula Hooping – This classic toy is now a legitimate and fun way to get your cardio in while keeping it nice and easy. As you progress, you can do more and more tricks or incorporate a routine. You can learn more about hooping and even take a class at Hey Now Hooping and Nola Hooping. Don’t stress about not being good at it; weighted hoops are almost impossible to drop.
- Yoga – The ancient art of yoga can certainly be intense, but you can control how much you get into it, and the slow rhythm of the routine and quiet atmosphere can be soothing. Yoga is like giving your body a massage while stretching and strengthening your muscles. Try out a class at NOMA’s Sculpture Garden in City Park or The Cabildo if you don’t want to commit to a class package at a studio. The New Orleans Boulder Lounge also offers classes. If you’re feeling saucy, you can check out Jazz Yoga at the U.S. Mint!
- Frisbee – A Frisbee can provide tons of fun if you make a game out of it. You can play a round of Disc Golf for free at City Park and Lafreniere Park by tossing a Frisbee into specialized nets. Ultimate Frisbee is a sport in which teams strategically throw Frisbees to their teammates in the opposing end zone. This sport wouldn’t be complete without leagues! You can join the local Ultimate Frisbee league, NOUltimate, or the disc golf league, NOTeam DGC.
- Putt-Putt Golf– Regular golf can be a relaxing, low-impact sport, but if you’re not into walking around an 18-hole course wearing funny pants, you can opt for a shorter game at City Putt located in City Park. You can choose between their two courses or try your luck with both. If you want to make it more interesting, make a bet with your buddies. It might be a little more difficult than you think, so don’t be overconfident.
- Darts – This bar game can be found almost anywhere you can drink, which isn’t always a good thing when that one really drunk guy gets his hand on the spiky metal darts and is seeing double. For the more serious, less intoxicated player, there are leagues that can make you feel sportier without the sweat. You can join some like-minded gamers with the Orleans Dart Club, Fun Dart League and the Greater New Orleans Dart Association.
- Shuffleboard – Also a beloved bar game but a little harder to find, shuffleboard uses a little bit of muscle and a whole lot of skill. Players strategically slide pucks across a sandy board to earn points and knock other players out of the end zone. You can find shuffleboard at Black Label Icehouse, Markey’s Bar, The Bulldog, King Pin, Shamrock, The Rusty Nail, and other bars. Check out New Orleans Shuffleboard to learn about league play.
- Bowling – Bowling is the classic American sport of middle class, middle age and Middle America. Bowling is a popular weekend group activity to beat the summer heat, and leagues have always been around for it. But did you know that you can join a bowling league through playNOLA? They conduct league play at Fulton Alley, and offer extended happy hour prices and prizes for players. You can also look into other leagues at your favorite bowling alley.
- Aerial Arts – For those with some good upper body strength and a tolerance for pain, aerial arts is a glamourous way to get your body stretched and into some strange positions. Using your core strength, your legs, and your upper body, you wrap luxurious silk around yourself in such ways that you can hover gracefully in the air. It’s also very accommodating for beginners. Crescent City Aerial Arts has a variety of classes for all skill levels and they also offer Aerial Yoga.
- Dance Classes – Dancing is a great way to get in shape and have fun while learning new skills that can be useful in other areas of your life. Classes range in intensity and style, but I would opt for the more sensual dances for a slower, more subtle style that may be easier on the knees and can help you learn muscle control. Belly dancing and burlesque are lesser-known options. Burlesque queen Bella Blue has been teaching people how to strip tease gracefully for a number of years. You can get your belly dance on with local professional belly dancers Kerry Lynn or Karla Marie.
- Skee-Ball – Yes, there’s a league for that. Everyone knows the game skee-ball, where you toss balls up a ramp to plunge it into holes to earn various points. The New Orleans Skee-Ball and Drinking League unapologetically combines the thrills of ball tossing with the challenge of doing it with beer goggles on. You can also just play for fun against your friends or roll to win prizes like food and beverages on a Beer Ball machine, which you can find at Barcadia and Beach Corner Bar & Grill.