February 23rd, 2021
Take It Outside! Outdoor workouts for every level
On the water, on a trail, or planking in the sunshine, sweat-inducing outdoor workouts beat a treadmill any day!
From mountain biking and paddleboarding to outdoor boot camps and yoga in the park, you can find an outdoor activity that’ll have you panting up a storm and loving every minute of it.
If you’re brand-spanking-new to a sport, taking a lesson is always a good way to go. You’ll learn proper form and technique, as well as the best ways to stay safe once you’re out on your own (all things you don’t want to learn the hard way). Plus, that expert guidance will help you learn more quickly (bonus!). If you’ve already got some experience, there are groups, tours and events for you, too.
BEGINNER: Paddleboarding looks easy enough to figure out (it’s just standing up, right?), but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Start by learning the best techniques for getting upright – which can be harder than it looks – proper paddle form, and safety measure (including wearing a leash and PFD and being aware of weather conditions and tides). Outfitters around the state offer lessons, including Wheels N Waves in Wells, Coastal Maine Kayak in Kennebunk, Portland Paddle in Portland, SOPOSUP in South Portland/Cape Elizabeth, L.L. Bean in Freeport, and Acadia Stand Up Paddleboarding in Bar Harbor, to name a few.
SUP EXPERIENCED: If you’re comfortable standing up on a SUP, then it’s time to start exploring. You can certainly chart your own course on Maine’s waterways, or sign up for a guided tour to places you might not think of. Maine Kayak in New Harbor leads sunset tours in Pemaquid Harbor, Portland Paddle leads tours to Fort Gorges in Casco Bay, and Seaspray Kayaking & Paddleboarding offers downwind ocean paddleboard tours that depart from Hermit Island in Phippsburg and end at Sebasco Harbor Resort (where a restaurant, bar, and outdoor pool await).
To really work yourself out, check out a paddleboard yoga class with Koan Wellness in York, on Lake Androscoggin with Windsurfing Maine, or with an area paddle shop, many of which are offering SUP yoga these days. Maine Sport Outfitters in Rockport offers SUP Fit classes to really work your core and get your heart racing.
BEGINNER: Learn the basics with free weekly skills clinics in Portland. Sponsored by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, the Wednesday evening clinics are perfect for beginners. They alternate each week between novice clinics on the Eastern Prom and beginner to intermediate clinics on the Stroudwater Trail. Sunday River in Newry runs a bike school with 90-minute clinics that include a bike rental and helmet. L.L. Bean in Freeport offers Learn to Mountain Bike courses that include all equipment and instruction.
INTERMEDIATE RIDER: Hit the trails on your own — the New England Mountain Biking Association is a great resource for trails — or join up with a local mountain biking group for some trail togetherness. The Single Track Sisters is a free women’s group that rides regularly on Monday and Wednesday evenings (Mondays are great for beginners, too). NEMBA has several Maine chapters, including in the Carrabassett region, Midcoast, Central Maine, Portland, and Penobscot area. The Green Machine Bike Shop in Norway leads group rides, too. For group rides (all levels welcome) that end with beer, check out the Bikes & Brews events from Gear Works Productions.
GO AFTER IT: Challenge yourself with a mountain bike race such as 12 Hours of Bradbury Mountain in Pownal on September 16. You’ll compete against other area riders, push yourself harder, and have an incredible experience, too.
BEND & STRETCH: Yoga is splendid for all levels – it’s great for strength, balance, and flexibility. But if you’re looking for an accessible workout that’ll have you inhaling warm summer air (rather than panting for breath), yoga is it. Many studios offer outdoor classes in warmer months. Practice Yoga leads yoga classes on Ogunquit Beach every morning from 7:30-8:30 a.m. The Viewpoint Hotel in York hosts outdoor yoga with views of Nubble Light every Wednesday from 8-9 a.m. In South Portland, Kelly Rich Yoga offers yoga at Bug Light Park every Tuesday 6-7 p.m. and Sundays 10-11 a.m., and Willard Beach Yoga leads classes on Fisherman’s Point. In Portland, Ashley Flowers teaches 6-7 p.m. Wednesday nights at Payson Park. If you like to cuddle some baby goats after your workout, check out yoga at Sunflower Farm in Cumberland.
SERIOUS SWEAT: Outdoor boot camps offer you the chance to sweat your brains out on the beach, on the grass, or up and down the bleacher stairs at your locals sports stadium. These boot camps are open to beginners, too, and offer heart-pounding workouts that’ll leave you exhausted and happy. In Kennebunk, check out Get Out There Fitness for 45-minute workouts at Mother’s and Gooch’s Beaches. Saco Biddeford Bootcamp offers workouts on the beaches of Biddeford Pool on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and Portland Sweat Project meets every Wednesday morning for free fitness at various locations around town.
REALLY KILL IT: Sign up for the Ragged Mountain Scuttle at Camden Snow Bowl on September 24.
— Text & Photos: Shannon Bryan