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Sarasota Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 1 month ago

No gym, no problem: The community provides plenty of resources to stay in shape

Stephen Kelley helps people explore ways to stay healthy without spending money.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

There are plenty of reasons people dislike going to the gym.

It can be an intimidating place for newcomers. It’s crowded, it’s repetitive, and worst of all, it’s indoors.

Luckily, there’s more than one way to get in shape. Instead of spending money on a gym membership, our area offers plenty of activities and places to exercise in peace.

One possible exercise spot is world famous for a different reason. Siesta Key Beach makes headlines for its beauty, but the beach is also an excellent place for a workout, according to Stephen Kelley. He runs 360 Degree Fitness with his wife, Claire Kelley.

Doing things on sand makes every move that much tougher and adds to your strength and cardio. Kelley has even put together a special routine for Health Matters readers to try — jumping jacks, squats, jumps, pushups and burpees, a strength training and aerobic exercise routine that involves squatting, kicking and arm extensions that’s been around since the 1930s. (See box, right.)

“This workout only requires your body,” Stephen Kelley said. “The exercises are simple to understand and extremely effective.”

If you’re burning up more than just calories at the end of the workout, feel free to hop in the Gulf of Mexico for a cooldown and added cardio.

Not a fan of sand? Don’t worry, routines just as invigorating can be found at Urfer Family Park on Honore Avenue. 

The park features two workouts trails, one of which is ADA-approved. Both trails feature routines for beginning and advanced participants, and they are detailed, telling you not only what steps to do, but how to do them by using the available equipment.

The ADA trail features exercises such as calf stretches and seated curls, while the non-ADA trail features moves like inclined body curls and arm walks across parallel bars — in other words, exercises with a higher level of difficulty.

The park’s trails are nestled between a haven of trees and wild animals. If you like exercising while getting in touch with nature, this is the spot for you.

Participants walk to each exercise spot on those trails, but what if someone is looking for an open space to run, one that also offered different levels of difficulty? That person might be at home running around Sarasota’s Celery Fields.

Yes, the Celery Fields is prime location for bird watching, but it also features a towering hill that has become popular with runners in the area. For a less intense but still challenging experience, trails wind their way up and around the incline.

The workout trail at Urfer Family Park on Honore Avenue provides guides and markers.

Some people, like Chuck and Pauline Jeffries, who have been in Sarasota since 1978, have been walking the Celery Fields since it opened seven years ago.

They come about four times a week, they said, and would come more often if work didn’t get in the way. They do approximately 4 miles each time, staying about an hour.

“We just enjoy the hill and having a little incline instead of flat ground,” Pauline Jeffries said. “It’s also very peaceful.”

“Your cardio gets increased dramatically (using the hill), as opposed to using a treadmill,” Chuck Jeffries added.

If none of those options is calling your name, there’s always the exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise: sports!

Siesta Key Beach offers free volleyball and tennis courts for you and your friends to enjoy together. Play Frisbee golf on the public course at Payne Park. Cycle down the Legacy Trail. Shoot some hoops at Arlington Park.

Or, you can join one of the myriad sports leagues for adults in our area. Discover what’s available with a simple Google search.

And for those in Lakewood Ranch, on the second Saturday of each month — October through April — you can join Lakewood Ranch ambassador Greg Spring for a 10-mile, one-hour casual bike right through the area. The ride begins at 8 a.m. Participants meet at the fountains on Main Street.

If bicycling isn’t your thing, Spring also hosts a 2-mile, one-hour nature walk on some of the hiking trails in Lakewood Ranch. The guided walks are held the third Saturday of each month — again, October through April. Walkers meet at 8 a.m. at the Pavillion at the Greenbrook Adventure Park.

Whatever fits your fancy, the most important thing is to keep your body moving. Who needs gyms when you’ve got the whole region?

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Kanye West. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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