Staying Fit Along The Gulf Coast
By Selena Chavis
“Use it or lose it”—it’s a saying that fits well with the importance of consistency with any health and fitness program. Many might suggest that it’s one of the most frustrating aspects of exercise. You spend months trying to reach a certain level, then life gets in the way for a few weeks, and you are back at square one.
For condo owners visiting the gulf coast for short periods of time, keeping up a fitness regime may seem challenging, especially if they don’t know all of the opportunities available. “This is a great place to be fit and be active,” said Kimiko Wadriski, a fitness trainer with Fit and Healthy Lifestyles in Gulf Shores. “There’s so many options available…you just have to know what’s out there.”
From traditional gym settings to beach fitness, visitors can find something to meet any fitness level or age group. Crissy Thibodeau, fitness trainer in Destin and head of a popular Zumba class in the area, said that when people are out of their normal routine or away from the familiar, they will often be more willing to try something new. “I get a lot of people on vacation who want to try Zumba for the first time,” she said, noting that her classes can average between 30 and 50 at any time. “It’s like something people want to do when they are away from home.” (105)
Out-of-towners can take advantage of a variety of options to stay fit along the Florida and Alabama coast. Check out the options below.
Cardio/High Energy Classes
From aerobics to spinning, many gyms offer opportunities to pay by the class—an appealing arrangement for visitors who do not want to get locked into memberships.
- Fit and Health Lifestyles (Gulf Shores) offers a pay-by-the-class spin class for $10. Described as a spin-off of Soul Cycle in New York, class participants spin in a dark room with loud theme music, videos and strobe lights. Monthly rates are $50. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spinning-Fit-Healthy/251497794884339
- Gold’s Gym (Destin and Panama City Beach) The Destin location offers a drop-in rate of $10 daily and a $35 weekly rate, and the Panama City Beach location offers a $5 daily fee and a $40 weekly rate. Cost covers use of the entire facility and as many classes as a person wishes to take. For cardio, classes include spinning and various levels of body conditioning. http://www.goldsgym.com/gyms/florida/destin/130 or http://www.goldsgym.com/gyms/florida/panama-city-beach/827
Originally inspired by the strict fitness programs of the same name in the military, boot camps have become increasingly popular in recent years because of their effectiveness, according to Wadriski. “We actually have had around 10 out-of-towners from July until now (November) in our morning boot camp,” she said.
- Fit and Healthy Lifestyles (Gulf Shores) offers pay-by-the-class boot camp options in two locations. Morning classes are available at SanRoc Cay Marina for $15 a session, and evening classes are available at Results Gym in Gulf Shores for $10 session. http://fitandhealthylifestyles.com/
- Grayton Beach Fitness Center (Grayton Beach) offers morning boot camp classes most week days that consist of a rigorous workout on the beach at $15 a session. Punch cards that offer 10 visits for $120 are also available. http://graytonbeachfitness.com/
From Zumba to ballroom dancing, out-of-towners might find dance classes a fun, adventurous way to stay healthy.
- Zumba classes are available through Gold’s Gym (Destin and Panama City Beach) The Destin location offers a drop-in rate of $10 daily and $35 weekly, and the Panama City Beach location offers a $5 daily fee and a $40 weekly rate. Cost covers use of the entire facility and as many classes as a person wishes to take. http://www.goldsgym.com/gyms/florida/destin/130 or http://www.goldsgym.com/gyms/florida/panama-city-beach/827. Zumba is also available at the David L. Bodenhamer Center (www.gulfshoresal.gov/parksandrec/documents/flooraerobicsschedule.pdf) in Gulf Shores on Monday nights.
- Ballroom dancing and other pop dancing techniques are offered at Emerald Coast Dancesport in Fort Walton Beach (www.emeraldcoastdancesport.com). Introductory lessons begin at $20 for half an hour. Classes are also available through Dance City in Gulf Shores (http://dancecitygulfshores.net/), and Dance Life (http://www.pcdancelife.com/) offers dance fitness classes.
The Great Outdoors
Mild gulf coast climates and plenty of water make for some unique and fun ways of staying in shape. From walking eco-tours to the paddle boarding and kayaking, visitors can enjoy nature as they stay in shape.
- Standup Paddle Boarding has become a popular entertainment option along the gulf coast and can be a great way to stay in shape. It is easy to learn and benefits people of all ages and physical condition with a strong ‘core’ workout. Check out the offerings at these locations: Alabama PaddleSports (http://alabamapaddlesports.com) and Go Go Kayaks (www.gogokayaks.com/) in Gulf Shores; GUSU Paddle Sports (www.gusupaddlesports.com) in Destin and Panama City Paddle Boards (http://panamacitypaddleboards.com/).
- Nature Trails abound across the Gulf Coast. Redoubt Trail Loop is a 6.1 mile loop trail located near Spanish Fort, Ala. The trail is good for all skill levels and primarily used for hiking.(27) In Destin, Henderson Beach State Park has a three-quarter mile pet-friendly nature trail, while Topsail Hill Preserve State Park has trails which vary in length from 2.5 miles to approximately 5 miles, including numerous abandoned jeep trails. Walton County offers a 10-mile walking/biking trail that winds along the coast and goes through many picturesque seaside communities.