It’s slightly embarrassing to admit, but many of us were at our most fit when we were in school. When you’ve got the playground in front of you, burning calories doesn’t seem like a chore – you’re having way too much fun running around, playing ball games, skipping with friends and generally having a good time. But grown-ups can have fun too! It has never been easier to get back into your childhood games – so scrap the sterile gym, where everyone is plugged into their iPod and staring blankly at the TV screens, and head back to the schoolyard!

netball

Netball

Does the thought of donning a Goal Defence bib bring you out in a cold sweat? It’s time to forget any PE teacher-related trauma and give netball another shot. Thanks to the prestige of the 2012 Olympics and the efforts of a Back to Netball campaign, more than 22,000 women have returned to the sport in the last three years. The health benefits range from a cracking cardio workout to toned arms and thighs, and it’s great for making new friends too. Find out everything you need to get started on the England Netball site.

Hockey

Hockey is great for all-round fitness. Not only will you strengthen your upper body and get rid of the dreaded bingo-wings, but it also helps to tone your bottom and legs. England Hockey’s Back to Hockey programme offers a six to eight week programme which focuses on refreshing your skills and getting fit while socialising with friends. Kirsty Williams, 26, signed up last year and can’t recommend it enough: “I have been lucky enough to meet the most amazing people, they keep me motivated and I’m feeling fitter than ever. Since starting Back to Hockey I’ve been so energetic and happy!” Don’t just take her word for it, though – give it a try yourself! Details can be found on the Hockey Nation website.

Skipping

We’ve all seen the Rocky films: we know skipping is good for us, but skipping on your own is a bit, well, dull. But why not get some friends together and go for an old-school style group skip instead? Think acid-bright vests and hotpants accessorised with retro sneakers and wrist bands – you know you want to! All you need is a rope and enough space to swing it (check out DJ Fresh’s Gold Dust video to see some seriously cool group skipping action). A high-energy skipping session will burn around 110 calories in just ten minutes and improve your core strength too. Extra points for anyone who can remember their old skipping songs…

Rounders

This was always my school-time favourite – it’s a perfect game for sunny summer afternoons with friends. While you whizz around the posts you’ll get an aerobic workout, and all that ball-fielding and bat-swinging is great for upper body toning. You just need to find enough people to join in! Luckily, Return2Rounders is an initiative developed by Rounders England to encourage more women and girls aged 16+ to play rounders together. See Rounders England for details on groups and events in your area.