Let’s be real: Not all of us delight at the idea of working out. Maybe we have too many bad memories of hours spent trudging along on a treadmill at the gym or being shamed by the glare of an at-home weight-bench-turned-coat-rack. But we also know that exercise is really good for our bodies—and we’re not talking about pant sizes here. It keeps our hearts healthy and joints strong. It helps keep us moving and active as we age. And working out simply makes us feel good, once we actually do it. The key is to find a workout or activity that suits us—be it lifting, Zumba, spinning, boxing, yoga or cross-country skiing. If you despise treadmills, then steer clear of them. (If you love treadmills, then by all means, carry on!)
We’ve rounded up some of the fun and unique ways to work out in Maine—you might even find a workout you actually love (GASP!).
For an obstacle course challenge: Obstacle Fitness
Maine Warrior Gym really is like a jungle gym for grownups. The monkey bars, warped walls, ropes and salmon ladder give that away as soon as you step inside the 5,000-square-foot warehouse space (and yes, you’ll immediately want to climb on everything). There’s a host of ways to engage with the course, too. The Obstacle Fitness class is described as a “unique circuit-training program designed to deliver an aggressive full-body, full-mind workout,” or you can take advantage of open gym hours to create your own circuit or focus on a particular obstacle.
Check out Obstacle Fitness at the Maine Warrior Gym, 865 Spring St., Westbrook. $20 drop-in ($10 first time), 10 class punch card $149 (mainewarriorgym.com).
Be gentle on those joints: Aqua Zumba
Zumba is a popular aerobic exercise in its own right (the dance music and the fun moves make for a workout that’s accessible to all levels, and there are classes all over the state). But Aqua Zumba takes that workout into the pool for exercise that’s easy on the joints. (It’s also amusing to try and dance in the water—the water adds resistance you don’t get out of the pool). It’s an ideal workout for anyone with joint issues or anyone looking for a non-impact option. Try it out at Auburn-Lewiston YMCA, 62 Turner St., Auburn, $8 drop-in (alymca.org), and at Bangor YMCA, 17 Second St. Bangor, $10 drop-in (bangory.org).
More aqua aerobics: Water aerobics at South Portland Recreation Center, 21 Nelson Road, South Portland (southportland.org), Aqua-Ex at Bath Area YMCA, 303 Centre St., Bath (bathymca.org) and Aqua Fitness at Saint Joseph’s College, 278 Whites Bridge Road, Standish (sjcme.edu).
If you just wanna dance: Dancehall Hip Hop
Even if choreographed dancing doesn’t come naturally to you, dancing is such a fun way to get the heart pumping. At Hustle and Flow in Portland, the Dancehall Hip Hop class is a high-energy workout with wonderfully loud music and cool moves, which you’ll learn step-by-step. No dance experience is necessary—it’s less about a perfect routine and more about moving your body and having a darn good time. See for yourself at Hustle and Flow, 155 Brackett St., 3rd Floor, Portland. $15 drop-in, $12 student. Five class pass $65 (hustleflowstudio.com).
More dancing: Check out the Cardio Hip Hop at Casco Bay Movers, 517 Forest Ave., Portland (cascobaymovers.com), Beginning Belly Dance and Salsa at Bright Star World Dance, 108 High St., Portland (brightstarworlddance.com), and Ballroom and Latin Dance at Avant, 865 Spring St., Westbrook (avantmaine.com).
Kick some butt: KICKASANA
Kickboxing and yoga. Together? Together! It’s true, these two disciplines don’t seem altogether compatible at first glance, but hear us out: The class is divided into two parts—the first half focuses on kickboxing (proper technique and form) and the remainder of the hour is focused on yoga. The intense cardio of kickboxing and the flexibility and strengthening of yoga make for one serious, sweat-inducing, panting, flushed-face kind of workout. No yoga or kickboxing experience is needed for KICKASANA at Fearless Phoenix Fitness, 331 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth. $15 drop-in, five class card $70 (fearlessphoenixfitness.com).
More kickboxing: Kickbox, Pump and Pilates at Windham Pilates & Wellness Center, 46 South Lowell Road, Windham (windhampilates.com).
For a fitness flashback: Jazzercise
No legwarmers required at this popular aerobic workout you might recall from the ’80s. But Jazzercise has modernized—popular music, new moves—and it’s a great all-levels way to get moving. If you’re just starting to exercise, Jazzercise is a welcoming and easily-adapted workout, but it’s also a fun and lively time for folks who have been working out for a while. There are classes seven days a week at the Jazzercise studio at Dana Warp Mill, 90 Bridge St., Westbrook. $12 drop-in, monthly member rates (www.jazzercise.com).
More Jazzercise: There’s also Jazzercise at Blue Wave Dancing, 33 Concourse E, Waterville (bluewavedancing.com).
Work out your inner rock star: POUND Fit
It’s a workout with drum sticks! Founders call it a “full-body cardio jam session, combining light resistance with constant simulated drumming.” There are squats and lunges and plyometrics— and the rhythmic banging of drum sticks on your mat, on the floor and overhead. It’s a little weird sounding, yes, but also a load of fun. It feels good to whack stuff, plus POUND Fit features rhythmic music and moves that feel kind of like choreography, but without the pressure to have smooth dance moves.
Check out classes at Stage Presence for Dancers, 97 Veteran Drive, Winslow. First class free, $6 drop-in (facebook.com/ZumbawithChristine2013) and BarSculpt, 45 Casco St., Portland. $18 drop-in. Five class card $80 (barsculpt.com).
Shannon Bryan is the editor of Maine Women Magazine.