Don't let a little sand slow you down

Cycling, jogging, health club passes can keep you fit while at the beach

Beach Fitness

May 23, 2004|By Tom Dunkel | Tom Dunkel,Sun Staff

For some people, vacation fitness means buying two slices of pepperoni pizza, then eating them while strolling the boardwalk, maybe throwing away the crusts if they're feeling especially low-carb conscious.

Other folks prefer to bring their normal workout habits with them to the beach, along with their beer cooler and flip-flops.

"They don't need a break from fitness," Faith Kromer of Quest Fitness in Ellicott City says of the latter group. "They need a break from the stresses of life. Fitness makes them feel good."

Still, vacation is vacation, and Kromer recommends kicking it off in style. After a long car or plane ride to whatever her destination might be, she likes to treat herself to a body-rejuvenating massage as quickly as possible. "It sets me up for the whole week," she says.

Kromer also advises her vacationing clients to exercise in the morning during stays in Margaritaville. Get that calorie burn out of the way so you can enjoy the beach, sunsets and happy hours unencumbered by guilt, free from any worry that you'll soon be buying dress clothes with an elastic waistband.

Of course, the key to an active vacation is mustering the determination to do something. Being on the road isn't a good enough reason to become an inanimate object. The no-suitable-exercise-facility excuse doesn't cut the mustard.

A resistance tube or elastic Thera-band can almost be packed inside a wallet, and it's enough equipment to do basic arm, shoulder and leg exercises in your hotel room or even on the beach. And what could be more portable than calisthenics? Pushups. Sit-ups. Dips. Wall squats. Walking lunges. All of them can be done on the fly.

If, however, you truly pine for the fitness comforts of home, anything beyond a backwoods hiking vacation will likely offer some conventional workout possibilities. Here's a sample of things on tap this summer in Ocean City:

* There are plenty of bike rental shops along the 2.8-mile boardwalk, which, incidentally, is open to early-bird cyclists from 2 a.m. until 10 a.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day.

* Joggers can use the boardwalk at any time, plus hit the trails at Northside Park Recreation Complex, a 58-acre retreat on the bay side of 125th Street.

* If you opt for running the beach, why not see if you've got the right stuff to keep up with the lifeguards? Members of the beach patrol are required to cover 300 meters of deep sand in 65 seconds or less. Slow pokes take note: The gym at Northside Park is open (no charge) to walkers from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.

* The Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department (410-250-0125; www.ococean.com / parks.html) offers three different morning aerobics classes that visitors may attend on a drop-in basis (usually $5 per class). Free line-dancing classes are held Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Pickup basketball and soccer games break out Monday through Thursday afternoons at Northside Park ($4 non-residents).

* The Recreation Department also has a long menu of weekly camps for children, from basketball and baseball to lacrosse and boogie boarding. Camps start in late June and run until late August. Call the above number for more information.

* Desperate to get in touch with your Inner Vacationer? Stop by Bliss Happens Yoga, on Fassitt Lane (410-213-7490; www.blisshappensyoga. com), located down a secluded dirt road in West Ocean City. Classes are held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, and Wednesday evenings. Cost: $8 for drop-ins, $30 for a private class.

"It's away from the hubbub of Ocean City," says instructor Autumn Fenton. "It's real peaceful back here."

Gym dandy

If you're the stack-'em-and-rack-'em type who can't bear to go a few days without lifting weights, a handful of Ocean City health clubs sell one-day and weekly passes.

Day prices at these clubs range from about $8 to $12. Most have the usual complement of free weights, machines, treadmills, and stair climbers. Here's a sample of what's available:

* World Gym, 107 67th St., Ocean City: 410-524-1900

* Ocean City Health & Racquet Club, 6103 Sea Bay Drive: 410-723-2323

* Powerhouse Gym, 9936 Stephen Decatur Highway: 410-213-7000

* Gold's Gym, 11545 Coastal Highway: 410-723-4653

* Curves, 12641-108 Ocean Gateway, West Ocean City: 410-208-3800. Only accepts "travel passes" from other Curves clubs.

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