4 unusual group workouts for Atlantans who hate the gym

Atlanta Underwater Hockey

Atlanta Underwater Hockey
Atlanta Underwater Hockey

Photograph courtesy of the Swordfish Club

It may sound absurd, à la underwater basket weaving, but underwater hockey is a real sport, invented (according to one story) in the 1950s by a restless scuba diver looking for a new winter fitness activity. It came to Atlanta via Andrei Savu, who’d played underwater hockey at the University of Guelph in Canada. In 2008 he helped start a local club, which practices twice a week at Washington Park Natatorium.

Players wear fins, a mask, a snorkel, a protective glove, and the kind of headgear used in water polo, and the rules are similar to those in ice hockey (though contact isn’t allowed). Swimmers use a wooden or plastic stick to push around a puck that’s weighted to the bottom of the pool. There’s no goalie. You fight for the puck or a pass until you need to surface for air. (Most team members typically hold their breath for 10 to 20 seconds.) “Strategy is a big part of the sport, but since there is no communication underwater, the players have to rely a bit on intuition,” Savu says. “The first few times are strange. But before you know it, you’ll be an excellent swimmer.” meetup.com/atlanta-underwater-hockey

How to train for it
Practice BOGDATs (Breathe Once Go Down And Touch), HUHOs (Half Under Half Over, where you swim a half-lap underwater, then a half-lap with your head above the surface), FUs (Full Under, where you swim wall-to-wall underwater), and ASAPs (As Slow As Possible, swimming a full lap under the water as slowly as you can).

Fitness benefits
The sport’s national organization—yes, there is one—says it builds swimming and free-diving capability. It’s also good cross-training for scuba divers, runners, and bikers.