The preferred game of Wall Street has convenience on its side, as 30 minutes on the squash court provides an impressive cardiorespiratory workout. Extended rallies and almost constant running builds muscular strength and endurance in the lower body, while lunges, twists and turns increase flexibility in the back and abdomen. "For people just getting into the game, it's almost too much to sustain, but once you get there, squash is tremendous," says Paul Assaiante, head coach of the five-time defending national intercollegiate champion men's squash team at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. Assaiante recommends a regimen of yoga, sprinting and distance running for preparation. Be wary of groin pulls, torn Achilles tendons and your opponent's racquet.
One of the few non-weight-bearing sports, rowing works wonders for cardiorespiratory health, muscular strength and endurance. Sliding seats in rowing shells and on rowing machines provide a total-body workout, building lean muscle throughout. "Most good oarsmen are strong but thin," says Steve Wagner, head coach of the men's crew at Rutgers University, who notes that proper technique in the legs, backs and arms, not strapping shoulder muscles, is the most important part of rowing. While Wagner notes that most rowing injuries occur "outside of the boat," those suffered inside are typically minor, such as tendonitis or overextended back muscles. Plus, it's a great argument for investing in waterfront property.
3. Rock climbing
Provided you don't tumble to your death, climbing is excellent for everything but cardiorespiratory health. It's anaerobic, relying upon bursts of energy to get from one rock hold to the next. While that won't do much for your heart, it's great for strength, endurance and flexibility everywhere else. "Climbers develop long, lean muscles from stretching, then contracting," says Ivan Greene, who runs the climbing program at the Chelsea Sports Center in New York. Though weight training and pull-ups are good preparation, the only way to develop grip strength is to grab a rock. Don't let the slow pace fool you. Notes Greene, "At the end of a long day of climbing, I feel like I've been wrestling Mack trucks."
The importance of technique can't be overstressed in this total-body winner, which scores in particular for cardiorespiratory health and overall muscular endurance. "It's difficult for people to maintain proper technique for 30 minutes straight," notes Michael Collins, a coach with Irvine Novaquatics, a Masters Swimming group (usms.org) in Irvine, Calif. "Without good form, many swimmers just coast through their workouts without getting any of the benefits of strength training or weight loss." Collins recommends interval training--swim two lengths, break to catch your breath, repeat--to maximize those benefits, as well as supplementing with core exercises, weight training and yoga to help maintain body alignment and awareness.
5. Cross-country skiing
Though there's not much new or sexy about cross-country skiing, for a total-body workout it's tough to beat. Shushing through snow taxes every large muscle group, while varying terrain and conditions provide great interval training. "Just the process of the body warming itself in cold weather fires up metabolism and increases calorie burn," notes Gregory Florez, a personal trainer and CEO of the online coaching outfit Fitadvisor.com who teaches cross-country skiing near Salt Lake City. Though the legs remain in a steady range of motion, there's good flexibility for the thighs, back and shoulders. Of course, you can't always count on the weather, but that's what stationary NordicTracks are for.