I just did my own version of “Facebook memories” by scrolling through my photos and Fit Maine stories from the last year. Wow, we’ve had a grand ol’ time these last twelve months. And while it’s no surprise to most of us, looking back is a good reminder of how being “active” in Maine usually means doing fun stuff in the woods, on the water, and, yes, sometimes in a gym or studio. But we don’t have to suffer through a workout. There are so many engaging and fun ways to work out, get fit, and sweat our brains out in Maine. So let’s keep doing those things in 2017. And 2018. And 2066, when we’ll be old ladies and gentlemen and we’ll spike our coffees every morning and say bawdy things to strangers before heading out for our sunset paddle/day hike/canoe trip/nap.
And if you’re in that impending-new-year-resolution state of mind, telling yourself you need to be more active in 2017, maybe these ideas will inspire you. They’re just some of my favorite workouts and events of 2016.
Maine Boot Camp in Portland
Maine Boot Camp takes place on the grounds at Cheverus High School in Portland, long before the teachers and students start arriving to begin first period. Even for self-described morning people, 5:30 a.m. feels premature for anything other than a leisurely cup of coffee and the morning news. But I set my alarm to check it out this spring, on one of those glorious humid mornings that made me sweat even before the sprints and planks and high knees started. The boot camp runs in four-week sessions, Monday through Friday. Workouts take place outside, even in the winter, unless the weather is really awful, in which case it moves into the gym.
Story: Rise and shine! Morning outdoor bootcamp with Maine Boot Camp in Portland
Aerial Yoga in Biddeford and Portland
Aerial yoga (which is also sometimes called “anti-gravity yoga,” which sounds like something that requires a spacesuit and top secret security clearance at NASA) has found its way to a handful of studios around Maine in the last year or two. Several studios around the state host classes, and while it looks like a daunting exercise, many of the poses are much easier to do than you’d think (but they look super badass, right?). I’ve enjoyed classes at Equilibrium, Balancing Health in Biddeford and Evo Rock + Fitness in Portland.
FMI: www.equilibriummaine.com and www.evorock.com
Story: Hang out: Aerial yoga classes in Portland, Biddeford, Brewer & Bar Harbor
Mountain biking with Single Track Sisters
For new mountain bikers, finding a welcoming group of area riders who’ll show you the ropes and not leave you in the dust (or a ditch – damn you, trail bridges!) is pretty great. The Monday Night Rides with Single Track Sisters in the greater Portland area are just the thing. It’s a welcoming group and the rides are free. And you will improve your skills, no doubt about it. (For more advanced riders, check out their Wednesday night rides.)
Story: Mountain biking with Single Track Sisters: Beginner-friendly Monday Night Rides
Takeoff to TRX at FitWell in Portland
My quads ached after my “Takeoff to TRX” class at FitWell in Portland in November. (I think it was the single-leg squats and plyometric jumps that really did my legs in.) FitWell opened several months ago as a dedicated TRX studio and let me tell you, those suspension trainers don’t look threatening, but they will work you out like nothing else. I’m looking forward to checking out more classes here in 2017.
Story:Give TRX a try at FitWell in Portland
Monday Night Dirt with Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine
When I first heard about the Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine, I wanted to join them. From what I could see on their Facebook page, they were having a load of fun out on the trails. And I wanted to be a part of it. The thing is: I have severe running self doubt. But I went anyway, felt totally welcomed by organizer Emily and the rest of the crew and then pulled up the rear with Emily and Beth, who chatted me up the whole time. It was awesome.
Story: Monday Night Dirt: Into the woods with Trail Runners of Midcoast Maine
Hike it Baby
It’s never too early to begin developing a fondness for nature. Even if you haven’t yet developed a fondness for solid food, ambulating or sleeping through the night. (I’m talking to you, newly born babies of the world.) And to help new parents get out of the house and onto the trails (and to meet other new parents, too), there’s a free hiking group called Hike it Baby. (Hike it Baby is a national effort to encourage parents to get outside with their babies – and I checked out the local chapter in Cumberland County.
Story: Hike it Baby! A hiking group for parents and babies in Cumberland County
Paddleboard Yoga with Koan Wellness
Launched this year, Koan is a dedicated SUP yoga business (Katie has the yoga credentials AND the paddleboard trailer to prove it), which offered paddleboard yoga classes every weekend all summer long. And that outdoor, on-the-water studio is one of the best yoga venues ever. Even if you’re new to yoga or paddleboarding or both, you CAN do this. Will you tip over? Fall in? Maybe. Will you still have a really fantastic time? Yep.
Story: Yoga on the water: Paddleboard Yoga with Koan Wellness in York
For an indoor version this winter: Indoor paddleboard yoga at Riverton Pool in Portland this January!
Founders call it a “full-body cardio jam session, combining light resistance with constant simulated drumming.” There are squats and lunges and plyometrics and the rhythmic banging of drumsticks – on your mat, on the floor and overhead. It’s a little weird sounding, yes, but actually a load of fun. It feels good to whack stuff. There have been classes at Ultimate Fitness in Lewiston and The Silver Spur in Mechanic Falls as well as Spotlight Dance in South Portland. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that any of them are doing it anymore. There ARE classes in Winslow (Zumba & Pound with Christine Bishop) and Portland (BarSculpt).
FMI: Zumba & Pound with Christine Bishop in Winslow and BarSculpt Portland.
Story: It’s a fitness class with drum sticks: POUND classes have come to Maine
Dancehall Hip Hop at Hustle and Flow
Choreographed dancing does not come naturally to me. (In fact, I’m lost a good portion of the time.) But the energy in this class is so good, the music is loud, everyone’s moving and sweating, and all that focus on remembering the choreography means your noggin gets a bit of a workout along with the rest of you.
Story: Bust a move: Dancehall Hip Hop at Hustle and Flow in Portland
The bestest active events of 2016 (all worth repeating in 2017!)
2016 was also full of great active events – the kinds of weekend activities that started with snowshoes and ended in a brewery. These are the things that fill up my day planner (these events are also listed in the Fit Maine calendar, so check back there all year for cool events). Some of my favorites: Full Moon Trek with Royal River Conservation Trust (next one scheduled for Feb. 10, 2017), the Maine Women’s Ride in Freeport, Bike and Brews in Gorham, Paddle Battle at Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, Tweed Ride in Portland, a climbing and snowshoeing adventure in Orono with Maine Yoga Adventures, cross-country skiing air-rifle biathlon at Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway, paddleboard races at Saco’s River Jam Festival, Yoga on the farm with BABY GOATS at Sunflower Farm in Cumberland, and a day trip to Sunday River with Mainely Ski & Ride.