It’s no secret that exercise can be difficult. Maintaining a routine, settling on something that interests you, and finding the time, the money, the gear – whatever the obstacle, there always seems to be a reason to skip it or start again tomorrow.
For me, running had always been the exercise I was drawn to, but as you may have read in a previous blog post, sometimes even the best-laid plans can have unexpected turns.
So, my intention for this post is to provide you with 10 unique ways to stay fit in the Capital Region. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I actually went to 10 different off-the-beaten-path exercise classes to help you, my most loyal readers, get a jumpstart on your new fitness routine. But first, I want to give a quick shout-out to all my friends and co-workers I dragged with me so I would not have to figure this out solo. OK, here we go.
If you are a parent or have ever been forced to spend time with young children on a rainy day, you may have visited Flight in Colonie off New Karner Road, a huge 13,000-square-foot trampoline park. On the weekend, they feature exercise classes for adults. I decided to try the one-hour Flight Fit class. Luckily, the instructor, Trish, had lots of energy and made me feel 100 percent comfortable jumping on a trampoline while likely not looking my best. The cost of a single class is $10, but if you buy a package, the price is reduced. They offer classes on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 – 9 a.m. and 9 – 10 a.m. Parents of small children will be happy to know that their little ones can jump for free in a sectioned-off, supervised area of the park while they work out – a bonus for sure! I was out of breath, sweaty, and smiling the entire time.
Level of Difficulty: This was a tough class, as it combined strength with cardio. But, it’s a fun way to stay in shape!
Bonus: Flight is expanding to include a “Wipeout” style section with obstacles to make the experience even more challenging!
30A Post Road, Colonie
I dragged my boyfriend (bless his little heart) to a 50-minute Essentrics class at Albany Dance & Fitness, where we met Gail, a wonderfully welcoming and calming woman who taught us ballet and tai chi moves all rolled into one. Though small and isolated, the movements were repeated a number of times and were not easy. The tai chi moves were soothing and slow and felt like yoga poses with more arm action. There were only three of us in the class, which meant we got Gail’s undivided attention. Albany Dance & Fitness does not sell memberships but offers a number of different classes for $10 each. You can come and go as you please, an ideal option for someone with a busy and unpredictable schedule. This class is suitable for all fitness levels.
Level of Difficulty: You will get out of it what you put in. The slower, more isolated movements are tough, but I felt great at the end!
1197 Central Ave., Albany
Due to scheduling conflicts, I had to attend this class solo. I think it was a good lesson in humility, as a big part of starting a new fitness routine is breaking down barriers we put up for ourselves.
I tried a self-defense and fitness class called Krav Maga with Alan, the owner of the studio. Classes are held from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 4 – 9 p.m. About eight of us attended, and while I was the newbie, everyone was welcoming and friendly. The 45-minute class features self-defense techniques and an intense workout, and you are paired with a partner for most of it. While one person holds the “bag,” the other kicks or punches (check out this video clip of me killing it!). Throughout the class, self-defense tips are constantly being reinforced. Alan spoke to me about the importance about knowing how to protect myself, starting with always trying to deescalate a bad situation while being prepared. I appreciated that as I was working up a sweat and challenging my muscles, I was also learning ways to stay safe. The studio was beautiful and clean, and the staff was helpful and informative.
Level of Difficulty: You can go at your own pace. As you get more comfortable, you will hit harder and kick faster!
Bonus: Take advantage of their free trial offer: an introduction class and a set of hand wraps for just $19!
4 Walker Way, Albany
You may have heard of Focusmaster, the winner of Jillian Michael’s Sweat Inc. television series. This 30-minute group exercise class combines punching, kicking, and isolated exercises such as burpees, sit-ups, high knees, and more. The workout experience is unique in the sense that you are in a dimly lit room with five to 15 other people but are exercising at your own pace. No one is watching you, which allows you to go as hard or as slow as you like. One of the best aspects of this class is the coaches. They are talking to you and your classmates throughout the entire workout, counting down time on a particular move, chanting your name, and cheering you on. This, coupled with the big countdown clock that shows how many seconds you have left on a particular machine or move, was extremely motivating and encouraged me to keep going. This fast-paced class flies by and concludes with everyone placing their hands in the middle and chanting, “fight for it!” Focusmaster has two studio locations in Troy and Latham and you can purchase a membership or take a single class for $15.
Level of Difficulty: With the freedom to work out at your own pace, this class is suitable for just about anyone. The fast pace does add to the intensity of the workout.
Bonus: Visit Focusmaster’s website and get a free two-week trial!
Latham Studio: 265 Osborne Road, Loudonville
Troy Studio: 828 Hoosick St., Troy
I joined my good friend, Andrea, for an early morning class at Metabolic Meltdown. With the word “meltdown” in the title, I knew I was in for a treat. The room was packed with people of all sizes, shapes, ages, and abilities working at their own pace. The circuit training style keeps you moving around the room and has you switching exercises every two to three minutes. You never get bored, but you do get tired! The trainers, who are situated around the room, help you get the most out of each exercise, correct your form if necessary, and cheer you on. While the classes are full, everyone is so focused on their own task that I never felt judged or uncomfortable. With an almost family-like atmosphere, this class unquestionably has a cult following and is highly addictive. You have the option of taking an individual class or signing up for a membership.
Level of Difficulty: This high-paced class is challenging all the way though. You’ll definitely work up a sweat!
Bonus: Get a free trial week by visiting the website today! Join with a family member and get an extra 10 percent discount.
Green Island Studio: 20 Lower Hudson Ave., Green Island
Clifton Park Studio: 1466 Route 9, Clifton Park
Balletone wasn’t as intimidating as perhaps some of the other classes, mostly because it was me and about 20 women who ranged in age from 65 to 85. They were a kind and welcoming group, calling me honey and fretting when I left my cell phone on the floor. However, when it came to this challenging class, they did not lack skill or stability. The name pretty much describes exactly what you will be doing – toning your body using ballet moves. The majority of the class focused on arms and thighs, while the slow movements challenged your strength. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Gail, who taught my boyfriend (remember, bless his heart) and me at Albany Dance & Fitness, was also an instructor. Given the slower pace, I recommend combining this class with some kind of cardio to maximize your workout.
Level of Difficulty: This slow-paced class challenged my muscles.
Bonus: The facilities at the Ciccotti Center are top-notch. Membership includes access to the locker rooms, all classes, a full gym, track, pool, and mini water park!
30 Aviation Road, Albany
When I say aerial yoga, I mean flying from a shiny scarf that’s hanging from the ceiling. You know I had to drag the boyfriend to this class, right? I was also lucky to have my co-worker, Carolyn, and my friend, Christine, join in the fun. The class started at 9:30 a.m. and instructor Jessica welcomed us and showed us a little bit about how our scarf would work and support our weight. This particular class was mostly stretching-based, so that made us feel less nervous. We started off by swinging in our scarves and getting the feel for them. Eventually, we made our way into all kinds of stretching poses, both in the air and on the floor. The scarf-facilitated stretching was incredible. I could feel my muscles expanding as the stretches got deeper with each movement. For the latter half of the class, we found ourselves upside-down in our scarves for more deep stretching. I have to be honest that this movement made me a little dizzy and nauseous. No one else was having an issue—just me! Jessica was supportive, reassured me that it happens, and applied some peppermint oil to my wrists to settle my head and stomach. I calmed down and was able to complete the movement for a few minutes. Class ended with a relaxing stretch/swing in the scarf and a lavender pillow for our eyes. Overall, this was a unique way to do yoga and a welcome change.
Level of Difficulty: You can move at your own pace. Good for the soul.
Bonus: When in life do you get to hang from the ceiling in a pretty silk scarf?
3 Vatrano Road, Albany
I have to say that starting my day outside by the river for more than 200 other people doing yoga in the sunshine was so wonderful that I cannot wait to do it again next weekend. The weather, the people, the teacher, the energy – it was so great! An instructor who also teaches at Heart Space Yoga in Troy taught the class and he was awesome. He totally commanded the class and made it fun, entertaining, light hearted, soothing, and achievable for any fitness level. The park was filled with men, women, and children of all ages and skill levels. Just a group of people hoping to get some sun, free their minds of any clutter, get in a good stretch, and strike a yoga pose or two. I highly recommend fitting this free fitness activity into your busy weekend schedule. Join us in June 2017 for CDPHP Yoga in the Park. Get fit with your neighbors while basking in the sunshine and enjoying a view of the river! Ommmmm!
Level of Difficulty: With many movement variations, you can go at your own pace.
Bonus: It’s FREE!
251 River St., Troy
This year, for the first time I participated in a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) Team in Training (TNT) half marathon, which happened to take place in Lake Placid (here I am at the start line). The goal was to raise funds ($1,000) and awareness about blood cancers. I have been a runner for more or less seven years and ran the Lake Placid Half Marathon in 2010 (as a much younger woman). So when friends from the LLS board asked me to join their fight, I agreed. It was not easy to fit in training, stay motivated, raise money, etc., but every time I was tired, run down, or didn’t feel like I could do it, I thought about all the people who actually could not do it. People who are dealing with illness, their loved ones’ illnesses, the death of a friend, parent, or child – they were my motivation. I ended up raising more than $2,300 for the cause, increasing awareness for more than 50 donors, and finished the race in 2:08:48. Not too shabby when you factor in those Adirondack hills! Team in Training is a fantastic way to get in shape while benefitting a worthy cause. The coaches and group are motivating and supportive no matter your personal obstacles. If you are thinking about running a race, why not help save a life?
Level of Difficulty: You set the bar for yourself. Take time to train properly.
Bonus: The connections to the people you meet are lifelong.
A great activity for a first date, group of girlfriends, family time, or self-discovery, I enjoyed my geocaching experience with all its twists and turns. Download the free geocaching app to get a quick tutorial on how this fun interactive treasure hunt works and be sure to check back in a couple of weeks and read my blog post!
Level of Difficulty: Depends on the search. Choose your own!
Bonus: This free activity can include everyone in your family – even your dog!
A Learning Experience My reason for writing this post was to provide information on different ways to stay fit, but I ended up learning so much more in the process. Exercise is personal no matter who you are. I realized that all these instructors had their own stories and experiences that got them to where they are in their fitness journey. It was inspiring to see that everyone has challenges, time conflicts, self-esteem struggles, body image issues, etc., and yet they show up, remain present, and give it their all.
Go on and try something new for your health. You never know where it may lead you.