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Cool ways to work out in Maine: Fun fitness classes involving hula hoops, alpaca, and swimming pools

++ Get out (but, like, not too far). We all love and appreciate the positive effects of the Maine outdoors. Hopefully we’ll be back to all kinds of adventuring soon. But for now, press pause. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has some great advice: stay close to home, steer clear of busy locations, keep your distance (and stick to walking/hiking with folks from your household). ++

Cool ways to work out in Maine: Fun fitness classes involving hula hoops, alpaca, and swimming pools

There are so many entertaining ways to exercise your bod around here – fitness classes that involve hula hoops and swimming pools and alpaca and shakin’ your tush like it’s going out of style.

And since it’s that glorious time of year when we’re all scrambling to keep up with all the proclamations we made about how we’re “totally going to be more active this year!” and we’re “definitely not going to bring a bowl of tater tots to bed with us every night,” I figured it was a good time to highlight some of those lively classes.

May you find something that sparks your interest so you can look back on your amazing 2020 and say “I was so active this year!” and “I can’t believe I have so many selfies with alpaca.” Some of these classes run all year, some are just in warmer months, so you can look forward to those later this year. Also: This is just a sampling of what’s out there! There are so many excellent ways to work out (and one day I will have written about them all. One day).

+++ Just a heads up: I’m linking to some stories that I wrote a couple of years ago, so class times and costs might have changed. +++



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20 cool ways to work out

two women in a fly bungee class leaping toward mirror
Fly Bungee at Hyper Fitness in Topsham Maine
Fly Bungee at Hyper Fitness in Topsham

Fly Bungee is a new fitness class that dives deep into the “working out can be fun” philosophy. You’re attached to the ceiling by a bungee cord that lets you bounce and leap around like a newly born Peter Pan. At a glance, there’s no denying it LOOKS fun. But all that running forward and back, jumping up and braking against the resistance of the bungee is genuinely exhausting. You don’t quite realize it at first until, between sets, you register your heart rate, your panting, your sweat. Oh yea, this is a workout.

Read more about it: Ready to fly? Fly Bungee with Hyper Fitness in Topsham

Beginner and Intermediate Boxing Classes at The Boxing Studio in Topsham

It feels good to punch things. Even if you’re brand new to punching things. The introduction to boxing class at The Boxing Studio is geared toward the beginner. You’ll learn the basics on form and technique and spend time honing your skills with the speed bag, slip rope, and mitt work. And then there’s the conditioning. Box jumps and burpees and jumping rope. Your lungs are going to love it. And you’ll be throwing some impressive punches before you know it.

Read more about it: Punch stuff: Boxing fitness classes at The Boxing Studio in Topsham

Yoga with the alpaca at Lulu’s on Westport Island. Shannon Bryan photo
Alpaca Yoga at Lulu’s Barn on Westport Island

YOGA WITH ALPACA. Do you even need to know anything else? When the weather’s warm, Lulu’s Barn on Westport Island hosts yoga with alpacas once a week. You’ll yoga in the grass under the shade of the trees while the alpaca chew nearby. You’ll even have the chance to feed them out of your hand while you hold tree or warrior pose.

Read more about it: Yoga with alpacas at Lulu’s Barn on Westport Island

Indoor SUP Yoga at Riverton Pool in Portland

It’s paddleboard yoga. Except indoors, in a swimming pool. No waves, wind, or cold open water to contend with! Indoor SUP Yoga with Ashley Flowers is great for folks who have done paddleboard yoga before AND for folks who are entirely new to either yoga or paddleboarding. And if you goof and fall in? WHO CARES?! You’re in a pool!

Read more about it: Indoor paddleboard yoga at Riverton Pool in Portland

Jazzercise at Dana Warp Mill in Westbrook. Shannon Bryan photo
Jazzercise in Westbrook

The Jazzercise music of yesteryear has been replaced by modern dance tunes (no joke, Jazzercise is more up-to-speed on popular music than I am). And the classes are a blend of cardio, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and dance. The Jazzercise studio in the Dana Warp Mill in Westbrook offers classes daily. No Spandex leotard necessary.

Read more about it: Jazzercise in Westbrook. Yes, Jazzercise! No legwarmers needed #thenewjazzercise

group on church steps doing tricep dips
Old Port Historic Workouts – some tricep dips on the stairs. Shannon Bryan photo
Old Port Historic Workouts in Portland

Local Leigh Rush Olson leads Old Port Historic Workouts on Saturdays throughout the summer, sharing her knowledge of Portland’s past and her eye for unique architecture and public art. It’s an ideal way for an active out-of-towner to spend a morning, but it’s also an interesting way for locals to learn tons of stuff about Portland that they probably didn’t know before. And see cannon balls stuck to buildings that you somehow never noticed.

Read more about it: Portland History meets outdoor exercise with Old Port Historic Workouts

Power Hour with Train Your Inner Athlete in Westbook

For the few dozen people who regularly wake up before dawn to work out with Lisa Petruccelli of Train Your Inner Athlete, 5:30 a.m. is the perfect time for some high knees, planking, tricep dips, ball slams, bicep curls, and plenty of early morning sweat. And they don’t show up because they have to. They show up because it feels good (er, at least it feels really good at the end of the hour, even if there’s maybe some quad burning and panting and grunting beforehand). By 6:30 a.m. you’ll be feeling gloooorious.

Read more about it: Power Hour: Early morning workouts with Train Your Inner Athlete in Westbrook

West African Dance at Portland New Church, Portland

Before you even start dancing, your body feels the rhythm. The sound of fast-paced drumming permeates your skin and reverberates through your bones and fills the room with percussive energy. You can’t help but start moving. Instructor Marita Kennedy-Castro, founder of Embody the Rhythm, leads Guinea-style West African Dance classes every week inside Portland New Church on Stevens Avenue in Portland. The classes are open to dancers of all levels, and Marita breaks down the sequences and steps in every class so beginners can learn the basics and more-experienced dancers can continue to hone their steps.

Read more about it: West African Dance with Embody the Rhythm at Portland New Church

Beach Bootcamp at Willard Beach, South Portland

Beaches are good for meandering walks and books and big blankets. They’re also excellent for lunges, planks, and sand skipping. Amy Currie, founder of Fit Justice in Portland (Amy does personal and small group training), runs the bootcamps at Willard Beach on Saturdays in the summer. No equipment is needed for this bootcamp, which employs body weight exercises like pushups, core work, lunges, planks, and, yes, skipping. (Note: skipping as adult is way harder than skipping as a kid. Or so I discovered.)

Read more about it: Saturday morning Beach Bootcamp at Willard Beach in South Portland

Hula Hoop Fitness at Quest Fitness in Kennebunk

Many of us were adept hula hoopers back in the day. We could move our hips and keep that hoop rotating for hours, without even trying that hard. But as grownups who probably haven’t even been in the same room as a hula hoop in decades, the idea of a hoop workout sounds simultaneously fun and “are you kidding?” Instructor Holly Brooks brings her energy and sass to every FXP Hula Hoop Fitness class, making it a lively and welcoming environment, even if it takes a while to remember how to make the hoop go ’round. (If you haven’t hooped in a while – or ever – no worries. You’ll pick it up in no time.)

Read more about it: Group fitness (like Hula Hoop!) and a saltwater pool at Quest Fitness in Kennebunk

Swing dancing lesson with Portland Swing Project. Shannon Bryan photo
Learn to swing dance with Portland Swing Project!

The weekly dances include a half-hour beginner lesson at the beginning, followed by a couple of hours of open dance, where beginners can try out their newly learned moves and more experienced dancers can do what they like to do: swing! Even cooler, the crowd is really welcoming and those more-experienced dancers (some who’ve been dancing for months, some for years) are happy to show us newbies a thing or two.

Read more about it: Learn to swing dance! Thursday Night Stomp with Portland Swing Project

Tire slamming during a Ladies Lift workout at Wolfpack Fitness in Auburn. Shannon Bryan photo
Lifting Night at Wolfpack Fitness in Auburn

Squatting with cinder blocks and sledgehammering tires outdoors ALL YEAR and loving every minute of it! Wolfpack Fitness offers a ladies lifting night, a men’s lifting night and a coed session, each of which costs only $5. It’s a cool place to work out, whatever the weather.

Read more about it: Lift heavy outside: Ladies’ Lifting Night at Wolfpack Fitness in Auburn

The spin room at Freeport Fitness on Main Street. Shannon Bryan photo
Spin/Yoga Combo at Freeport Fitness, Freeport

Sometimes you want to let your legs fly on a spin bike and you also want to stand strong in warrior pose. Do both during a combo class at Freeport Fitness. The spin/yoga combo class starts with 30 minutes on the stationary bike and then transitions to a 45-minute yoga class. Nice.

Read more about it: Try the spin/yoga combo at Freeport Fitness in Freeport

A snowy early-morning workout this December. Photo courtesy Portland Sweat Project
FREE Outdoor workouts with Portland Sweat Project

Free. Every Wednesday morning. Year-round. The exact location changes every week (you might sprint the bleachers a Fitzpatrick Stadium one week, sled down the East End Hill – and run back up – another, or do burpees in front of City Hall. These free workouts are open to all, include the good energy of welcoming people, and run all year long.

Read more about it: Portland Sweat Project: Free Wednesday morning workouts worth waking up early for

Lunges during the Saturday community class. Shannon Bryan photo
Community class at The Distance Project, Freeport

Trainer David Bidler isn’t simply there to lead us through a string of burpees and deadlifts and lunges (although he’ll do that, too), he wants us to really understand the mechanics behind what we’re doing. Each week (and during all his classes), David focuses on a few key components. But here’s what’s even sweeter: this Saturday community class is free. And open to everyone. Every Saturday at 8 a.m., year-round.

Read more about it: Lift and learn: Free community class Saturdays at The Distance Project, Freeport

Aqua Fitness at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Shannon Bryan photo
Aqua Fitness at St. Joseph’s College, Standish

During an Aqua Fitness class at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, you might forget you’re actually exercising…at least until those innocuous-looking foam dumbbells come out. (They weigh nothing on land and yet they’re sources of pure muscle exhaustion once they’re in the water.) Exercising in a pool is also great for folks with joint issues or people who aren’t fans of the high-impact stuff.

Read more about it: Aqua Fitness: Work out in the pool at St. Joseph’s College, Standish

Jonessa Ramos, right, demonstrates arm and body positioning during a pole fitness class at her studio, which was located in Biddeford at the time. Shannon Bryan photo
Pole Dancing with 207 Pole Fitness, Cornish

A combination of dance and seriously impressive acrobatics done on a vertical pole, pole dancing has found it’s way into fitness studios. Much like popular circus arts like aerial silks, pole dancing (or pole fitness, as it’s often called) requires strength, flexibility, endurance, and a bit of panache to make it all look so graceful. Learning the art translates into a solid workout that’s equal parts strength training and cardiovascular fitness. Note: I wrote the post when Jonessa was teaching in Biddeford, but she’s since moved the business to Cornish!

Read more about it: Strength and artistry on the pole at 207 Pole Fitness in Cornish

Runner on the treadmills at Starting Line Run Studio in Portland. Shannon Bryan photo
Treadmill workout at Starting Line Run Studio in Portland

Run like the wind! Sprint like a jungle cat! Or jog-walk at a regular human pace. Whatever your running level, the new Starting Line Run Studio in Portland has a class that’ll challenge your lungs and legs but also keep you entertained with good tunes, camaraderie, and just the right running challenge. (Also great to keep running all year if you don’t like running outside in the winter.)

Read more about it: Love your run (and the treadmill) at Starting Line Run Studio in Portland

Dancehall Hip Hop Hustle + Flow Portland
The Dancehall Hip Hop class at Hustle and Flow in Portland. Shannon Bryan photo
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.

Read more about it: Bust a move: Dancehall Hip Hop at Hustle and Flow in Portland

Beach Yoga with Heidi Audet at The Great Outdoors in Turner. Shannon Bryan photo

Start your summer morning on a beach gazing out at the calm waters of Pleasant Pond as Heidi Audet leads you in a yoga practice that will stretch and loosen your stiff muscles and joints…and create a little breathing space in your head. Class is held on the beach at The Great Outdoors, a sweet, easy-going spot with cottages under shady trees that open up to a private beach. This place exudes calm. (Side note: you can hang out at this beach for $5 a day and lounge and swim to your heart’s content.)

Read more about it: Beach Yoga overlooking Pleasant Pond at The Great Outdoors in Turner

Shannon Bryan

Shannon Bryan

I don't like "exercise" any more than you do. But you know what I do like? Paddleboarding with a friend all afternoon (and then sitting in the grass to drink chardonnay). Bike rides and nachos, hikes, yoga classes held in breweries, group paddles to Fort Gorges, you get the idea. Because Maine is my gym.