Mingling Exercise With Atmosphere
Love is in the air and spring is the perfect time to catch it. But first you have to get outside. Ditch exercising indoors and let the fragrance of seasonal blooms, the sunshine on your face or perhaps the wind in your sail motivate you. Here’s a guide to local outdoor activities sure to put some spring in your step.
YOGA IN THE GARDEN
Imagine practicing downward dog or warrior pose in the midst of a gorgeous botanical garden filled with exotic plants and the sounds of birds in the background. What better way to start your day right than to enjoy Yoga at Sunken Gardens every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 10-11am. Roll out your mat in this peaceful urban oasis and follow along as the yoga instructor takes the class through various asanas. The seven-acre gardens, not far from downtown St. Petersburg, have a rich history dating back to the early 1900s when a local gardener turned an ancient lake behind his home into a tropical paradise.www.stpete.org/sunken
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
When you spend your work day at the computer, on the phone and in the office cubicle, it’s only natural to feel stiff, sore and cramped by the end of the day. Another St. Petersburg treasure, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, offers a way to unwind. Join the group fitness walk every Tuesday and Thursday from 6-7pm. A neuromuscular massage therapist leads the group in a quick warm-up, followed by a 45-minute walk through the trails and boardwalks of Boyd Hill, a 245-acre park adjacent to Lake Maggiore in South St. Petersburg. The park has at least five different eco-systems and is home to numerous eagles, migratory birds, gopher tortoise and more than 50 different kinds of butterflies.www.stpete.org/boyd
PADDLING DOWN THE RIVER
The Hillsborough River has an amazing diversity of wildlife that can easily be spotted from your canoe as your paddle downstream through 23 miles of protective wetlands. This is the real Florida: quiet, peaceful, slow and scenic. Go by yourself or go with a group, but take your time, from two hours to all day. You might see deer, wild hogs and turkey but certainly turtles, gators, birds and fish. Canoe Escape offers canoe and kayak rentals, basic paddling instruction and interpretive guided tours by request. Otherwise, they’ll hand you a river map and you can go it alone. Guided moonlight trips are also available. Canoe Escape is located in Thonotosassa, a half mile from the Interstate 75 Fowler Avenue exit.www.canoeescape.com
THE WIND IN YOUR SAILS
If you’ve ever looked out at the dozens of colorful sails and wondered what it would be like to windsurf in the Gulf, Britt Viehman offers this answer: “It’s like flying.” Viehman owns North Beach Windsurfing School and loves introducing beginners to the sport where you get to skim across the top of the water with the wind at your back. He insists you don’t have to be athletic and that the equipment is lightweight and easy to maneuver. In a couple of hours, he’ll teach you everything you need to know. Beginners start slow with a small sail, light wind and calm water. A three-day weekend adult camp is available for those who want to soar into high gear quickly.www.nbwindsurfing.com
TAKING A STROLL
Almost anywhere in Tampa Bay is delightful for walking, jogging, bicycling and rollerblading, but two destinations really stand out. The first is Bayshore Boulevard, sometimes billed as the nation’s longest continuous sidewalk, where a 4.5-mile trail leads you through one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in South Tampa all the way to downtown. The views are spectacular. To one side is the Tampa Bay waterfront, while the other is lined with historic mansions belonging to the city’s movers and shakers.
The second is the 34-mile Pinellas Trail, a premier, linear park that connects downtown St. Petersburg in the south with Tarpon Springs to the north. The entire length of the trail is usually speckled with outdoor enthusiasts sharing the fun.
Meet JANAN TALAFER
Janan Talafer is an award-winning freelance writer with many years of experience covering health care, business and lifestyle issues. She especially enjoys writing about the joys of living and gardening in beautiful Tampa Bay, Florida. One of the highlights of her career was flying with MacDill's 91st Air Refueling Squadron to fill up the tank of a Thunderbird in mid-air.