New Year, New You in SRQ

Get a head start on your New Year in the Sarasota sunshine with activities so fun, you won’t realize they’re (shh) exercise.

For many of us – nay, most of us – the start of the year marks our declarations of healthy living, turning over a new leaf, and losing those newly gained holiday pounds. Week after week of feasting on baked treats from the neighbors, savoring family recipes, and indulging in far too many holiday cocktails suddenly catch up with the waistline and, come the turn of the year, we say we’re going to burn them off. But despite our best intentions, exercise often gets put on the back burner, especially on vacation. There’s always something else to do – a museum to see, a tour to take, a lounge chair awaiting, a book to read. Luckily, one of the perks of lovely year-round weather is the opportunity to get outside and burn off some of that rum cake without being trapped on the dreaded treadmill. And with activities this fun, you won’t even realize they’re (shh) technically exercise.

Bend and Stretch

Many of Sarasota’s most popular yoga studios, including Pineapple Yoga feature outdoor classes in addition to their regular indoor studio schedule. Bayfront Park serves as a recurring Saturday morning om site, where poses are perfected with breezes from the salty water and views of sailboats serving as a balancing distraction. Not a morning person? Yoga Nights at the Ringling Art Museum merges sun salutations with historic art for a unique, memorable evening. Siesta Key Beach makes for the perfect setting restorative yoga on one’s own. Watching birds fly overhead, the quartz underfoot, and happy faces greeting you “Namaste” is so fun, you forget you’re also doing something good for yourself.

SUP it Up

Stand Up Paddleboarding, SUP for short, is not only a fun adventure, but also a phenomenal workout for your core. The combination of balancing and paddling while simultaneously countering currents and waves targets your lower, upper, and middle muscles without you realizing it. A sealife-filled tour of the beach or ever-popular Lido Key mangrove tunnels will reverse the effects of those extra glasses on New Year’s Eve and you won’t even break a sweat.

Run Like the Wind

Sarasota runners are lucky in that they can enjoy their sport outside year-round. Even when it’s “cold,” a pair of tights and a hat is sufficient for a trek around town. In flat Florida, the John Ringling Bridge is the best we’ve got for an incline to work those glutes. Alternatively, a trot along the coast will help reach your daily step goal. The soft sand adds a level of difficulty and novelty, so you work extra hard but are too distracted with diving birds and breaching dolphins to notice.

Off the Beaten Path

Aiming to hit 10,000 steps before the day’s through? A trip to Myakka River State Park will easily accomplish the goal, plus enough extra to compensate for today’s vacation food. Whether you prefer a stroll amongst the birds or a tough trek to make you sweat, there’s a trail for you amongst Myakka’s 38.9 miles of trails. The hammock overhead protects from the sun and serves as home to critters galore. Scouting for swimming gators or crossing the suspended 100-foot long canopy walkway hardly feels like a workout and more like a vacation excursion. If 25 feet in the air isn’t high enough, head to Tree Umph! Adventure Course to tackle their 14 acres of treetop climbing obstacles and finish with their 650-foot zipline; it’s 60 feet up.

Pedal Pushing

Between Sarasota and Venice spans the Legacy Bike Trail, a 12-mile route that once served as the railway track line. Ambitious bikers can complete the full route, but distances of any length provide unlimited possibilities. The straight paved path means you won’t get lost and its off-the-road location prevents traffic danger while surrounding pedal pushers with green views and nature galore. Bike rentals are available throughout town for those without their own wheels.

Care to Dance?

Put on your dancing shoes and jive those inches off. The Sarasota Ballet offers drop-in adult courses to merge the culture of Sarasota with some plie bends. Whether you’re a novice or en pointe, one class and it will be l’amour. Stroll down Siesta Key Beach on Sunday night to stumble upon the Drum Circle, where happy bodies swivel and sway like waves upon the sand, thankful to be alive under the shining moon.

It Does a Body Good

Of course, any workout regimen must be supplemented with healthy eating. To feel great but still enjoy vacation dining at its best, a trip to one of Sarasota’s Farmer’s Markets for fresh produce will make your taste buds sing.

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