Paddle Healthy: Summer Fitness Trends

Photo: JP Van Swae

Photo: JP Van Swae/Jason Kenworthy

Get Beach-Ready: Summer Fitness Trends

With the weather warming up, it’s time to get out of your gym and into the great outdoors. Obviously that means getting out on your SUP as often as you can. But what else can you do to mix things up a bit and challenge your body? Magazines are chock full of fads and trends, and it can be hard to sort the good from the bad. Luckily, we’re taking a look at three legit fitness trends you should check out—and maybe implement into your routine—this summer:

Outdoor group/flash mob fitness

While CrossFit remains one of the fastest growing sports, it mostly keeps you indoors. You can foster the same sense of camaraderie and teamwork without being stuck in the confines of a sweaty gym by joining one of the free or paid outdoor fitness classes that meet in parks, at lakes, and at other venues across the county. Thousands of people now participate in group workouts outdoors, and, with science proving that combining exercise and fresh air improves mood, alleviates depression and encourages positivity (not to mention giving you Vitamin D), why not get your summer fitness fix outside?

You can find classes through nationwide groups such as The November Project and sites with information for regional ‘flash mob workouts’, such as It Burns Joe Fitness in Denver. If you’re signing up for paid ‘boot camps’ (we find Camp Gladiator to be one of the best) do a little online research into the trainers to make sure they’re legit before you fork over your cash.

Photo: RowAlden.com

Photo: RowAlden.com

Rowing (without leaving your SUP!)

Along with gymnastics, rowing has got to be the most underrated sport at the Summer Olympics in terms of sheer athleticism. It combines the cardio demands of cycling or running with the power output of Olympic weightlifting and is very low impact on the body. One recent infographic stated that rowing a 2,000 meter race (the distance of the average rowing regatta) flat out puts the same demands on the neuromuscular system as playing six back-to-back games of full court basketball. That’s why athletes like Ernie “E.J” Johnson incorporate rowing into their land-based workouts.

But what if you could go one step further and get into on water rowing without “shelling out” (pardon the intentional pun) for a costly rowing shell? Now you can. Several manufacturers, such as go-to rowing brand Alden (seen in our 2014 Gear Guide), have created add-on apparatus that either strap onto your board or affix with tie downs. Sure, at around $1,000, it’s not cheap, but it is a lot more cost effective that paying four or five grand for a dedicated row boat. And, as typical cruising SUP boards are a lot wider that the 24-inch single rowing shell, there’s less chance of spending more time in the water than on it.

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“Naked” Running

Hold up. We’re not actually suggested that you go running without any clothes on! Instead, we’re talking about getting back to running as it’s meant to be, without being laden down with technology. While there is evidence that listening to music while exercising increases endurance, how much better would your run be if you actually paid attention to bird calls, water lapping on the shore, and the other sounds of nature around you? Now, if you run in a city this might not apply (honking taxis and roaring motorcycles don’t really say “nature”), but you get the point.

And it’s not just music you could try ditching once in a while when you lace up your running shoes. Yes, that FitBit, Garmin watch or other personal fitness device provides valuable feedback on pace, heart rate, distance and so on. But sometimes it’s beneficial to perform based on your body’s natural feedback, rather than bowing to the power of the machine. Think about how kids run: wildly, joyfully, and without looking at a digital device on their wrist every five seconds. We challenge you to go tech-free for a while and see what happens. —Phil White


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