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. +++
Join the Fit Maine Social Club
Get more active this year – indoors and out – with the Fit Maine Social Club! Unique workouts, outdoor adventures, and a host of excellent humans (who happen to be pretty damn fun).
20 cool ways to work out
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
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 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
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.)
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
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
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
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.
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, 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
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
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 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
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