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Project Best Life | Alternative workouts that are surprisingly good for you

This series is sponsored by Project Best Life. Buffalo Rising and Project Best Life have teamed up to produce a series on wellness inspiration and advice to direct readers to the people, places, and experiences in Buffalo and beyond that will help them fulfill their health, nutrition, and wellness goals. For more information on how you can live your best life, subscribe to the Project Best Life newsletter. 

If the idea of working out sends your eyes rolling backwards, after this episode of #ProjectBestLife you might think differently.

Working out no longer has to be confined to treadmills and dumbbell lifting. While those things are beneficial, sometimes adding a little spice to your workout routine is just what is needed to stay motivated and encouraged. These alternative workouts strengthen your body all while also offering a multitude of mental benefits that can impact your everyday life. The team was able to check out some alternative workout spots that are sure to have you moving and grooving in ways you might have never thought of before.

Central Rock Gym

Climbing a mountain might not be on the top of your bucket list, but at Central Rock Gym located in Buffalo’s Old First Ward you can now safely experience the thrill of climbing all types of heights.

General manager Justin Koestler shared that this type of workout isn’t just for experts and extreme sports seekers, and is the perfect alternative workout for beginners. “One of the beautiful things about climbing is that it doesn’t matter if you’re young, old, male, female, short, tall, super fit, or just getting into fun things. It’s challenging. And there’s something here for anyone in any of those categories. It’s a pretty even playing field for everyone, which is awesome.”

Rock climbing physically engages all muscles in your body- from legs to arms to even your core ab muscles, giving you a full body workout in just one session. Apart from the physical aspects of this sport, the mental benefits are also something to take note of. Oftentimes, there is a certain level of strategic planning and problem solving that goes into a climb, sharpening your critical thinking skills. “There’s something to be said for undertaking a challenge, failing, trying it again, failing, thinking about it, practicing, and then finally achieving the goal that you set out to do. With all of our climbs, there are numerical grades assigned to each of them. So it’s very easy, fun, and almost addicting to track your progress throughout your development as a climber. So you can tell when you hit a plateau and when you bust through it to get to another level.”

Koestler explained how “climbers” are a special community of people that are eager to accept everyone. “There is a genuine sense of community and people helping each other out here. You’re constantly chatting with people in between climbs about what you did that weekend or the methodology of setting up for a specific climb. It’s a really nice social environment, as well as a fitness environment.”

The gym offers a variety of classes for all experience levels that are sure to make climbing your next favorite hobby. Visit the website to find something that works for you.

The Bird’s Nest

Is that a bird? Or maybe a plane?

No, it’s just the team at The Bird’s Nest, Buffalo’s first circus arts studio. These classes will have you upside down, turned around and soaring higher than you ever thought imaginable. While circus arts might not have been your first thought when thinking of alternative workouts, it is sure to engage muscles you didn’t even know you had.

Instructor at the studio, April Eaker shared that while these classes can seem intimidating, you don’t have to be an acrobat to join in on the fun. These classes are geared toward working every part of your body, and using your own muscles to build stamina. “It builds that kind of stamina within yourself to be up in the air or continuously moving for several minutes at a time. There’s also a lot of body weight exercises. So although you’re not necessarily doing any weight training, you’re doing a lot to tone your own muscles for flexibility. Through these classes you gain a better range of motion, and you become more physically aware of your limitations. People will come in and say they can’t do a pull-up or have never been able to climb the rope in gym class and then six weeks later they’re doing both of those things very well.”

Confidence is one of the best accessories anyone can wear. Building a better view of yourself is something that is a focal point in these classes. “You start picking up on patterns, things that you like, styles that you like and you start noticing those things in yourself too. You really start appreciating yourself more, and not just from how much I can lift or anything like that. You might say, ‘I really like how I look in this pose’ and start to develop your own style and confidence.”

To find a class that works for you visit the website and who knows, flying might just be your newest favorite workout.

Baila Salsa Dance Company

Although grooving to your favorite song in the shower isn’t considered a workout, taking a dancing class is. Owner of Baila Salsa Dance Company Fanny Olaya, makes Latin dancing not only enjoyable, but also easy. You don’t have to own the dance floor to feel the beat and work out your body.

There is something so freeing about expressing yourself through body movement, especially dance. This form of alternative workout engages your whole body, while also aiding in stress relief and posture refinement. Fanny shared with us that dancing is her favorite cure-all for everyday stress and discouragement. “You work out your whole body when you dance. It helps with flexibility and muscle strength. You’re working mostly your lower body- your core gets stronger, your legs, your hamstrings and calves. You also burn a lot of calories, so it helps you with weight loss. Your posture too, you can tell because you start moving parts of your body that you normally wouldn’t. I also find dancing one of the best ways to help with your mental health- dancing is always lifting me up. It helps with self-confidence and your self-esteem improves. It really brings happiness to your life.”

Although dancing can be a very vulnerable activity, it is also very rewarding. Being surrounded and moved by music makes this alternative workout unlike any other. “If I can help someone feel what I feel through dancing and music, that would be an accomplishment for me. Salsa dancing, or Latin dancing in general, opens up a new world for someone in which we all get together with the same interests, no matter your age or walk of life. Being aware of the simple things we have in life that we can enjoy like body movement and listening to music is what makes dancing so important.”

Whether dancing comes naturally to you or not, Baila Salsa offers a variety of classes from beginner to group classes that can help unleash the groove in you that you never thought you had. Visit the website to find a class that fits best for you.

For more tips and inspiration to help live a healthy, happy and balanced life to the fullest, subscribe to the Project Best Life newsletter.


In tough times, our efforts to maintain fitness, healthy nutrition, and personal wellness can fall by the wayside as we direct all our energy into navigating our individual storm. Yet, in the face of what’s happening in the world around us, it is essential to make space for self-care and experiences that fortify our physical and mental wellbeing.

Check out Project Best Life’s personal assessment tool. Get personalized health insights and a cancer screening checklist by completing this health assessment. This questionnaire will only take you around 10-15 minutes to complete. 


Trying to manage a proper work-life balance, saving for your future while paying all your bills, all while keeping strong relationships with friends and family… We know that life can get pretty stressful, and it’s easy to forget what’s best for your health both physically and mentally. Project Best Life is here to help with our podcast: Happy and Healthy. We provide tips from experts and share stories that will inspire you to live your best life, whatever that means to you. Listen now on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google

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Written and Hosted by Liberty Darr
Photography and Editing by Vin Berbano
Produced by Jessica Marinelli

Written by Liberty Darr

Liberty Darr

I am a Buffalo State student studying journalism. I love writing, art, and meeting new people. When I’m not at school or work I enjoy reading/writing poetry and watching documentaries. My favorite dynamic duo is investigative journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. I’ve been a resident of Buffalo for quite some time and I still fall in love with something new about this city everyday.

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