The nice weather is finally here! For me, that means getting active outside, rather than spending time in the gym. There’s no shortage of opportunities around Western New York for doing just that. My favorite way to get fit outside is anything on the water: swimming, kayaking or paddleboarding. If you don’t have a kayak or paddleboard, renting can add up and get pretty pricey, so here are the top five ways to get fit for free this summer.
Walking on the Beach (or any trail)
If I’m looking for a low-key, low-impact day with a lot of mileage, it’s time to hit the beach. Even if the water is too chilly for a swim, I like to walk the length of the shore. There’s just something about the wind in your face and fresh air in your lungs that is energizing. If you’re more into checking out nature, there are plenty of walking and hiking trails around Western New York. My fall favorites are also my spring favorites. Looking to discover new areas? Check out hikingproject.com, which allows you to sort hikes based on elevation, trail type, difficulty level, distance and more.
Biking is another fantastic, low-impact way to get active this summer. I love cycling because you get to really see areas up close and at a more leisurely pace. It is a perspective you cannot get driving. It’s like discovering where you live all over again. The Shoreline Trail hooks up with the Erie Canalway Trail, which you can ride across New York State. The path through Niagara Falls goes to where the former Robert Moses Parkway stood and is a really nice ride, but you will have to get off and walk your bike through the Niagara Falls State Park area. If you’re looking for some great scenic views, check out some of the best waterfront bike rides in the area, including the Buffalo Waterfront Wellness Trail. You can also join a Slow Roll Buffalo ride or check out some of GoBike Buffalo’s suggestions.
Free outdoor fitness classes in Buffalo
There are so many free fitness classes all across the area to choose from, it’s impossible to keep count. Jocelyn Strohm is a physical therapist and owner of Stretchd Out Buffalo LLC. She’s leading free fitness classes in the new pavilion along the canal at Gateway Harbor Park in Tonawanda.
“It’s important to make sure we get out and moving. In the summer, people are more motivated to be out in general. I always say movement is the best medicine, so any opportunities we can give people to get out is great. Especially with COVID, we’ve been locked in our houses for so long. A lot of people are having pain and stiffness, so this summer it is important to get out there and move your bodies as much as possible.”
Strohm is among dozens of instructors across Erie and Niagara counties teaching several types of free fitness classes outside, ranging from stretching or boot camp to yoga or barre.
“A lot of the free classes are for all levels. The classes I’m teaching are for anyone, and I will do modifications too. So don’t be nervous. Just try your best,” says Strohm.
Many of them are right along the water.
“Sunshine and being by the water make people feel happy, calmer. It’s a great atmosphere,” says Strohm.
Check out the links below for more free fitness classes in your area.
Outdoor Fitness – Town of Tonawanda
Canalside Fitness | Highmark BCBSWNY
Event Calendar – Community Fitness | Blue Cross Blue Shield WNY (bcbswny.com)
Fitness in the Parks (independenthealth.com)
Parks with fitness equipment
If you’re not into the class atmosphere and want to work out on your own, take advantage of the free and available fitness equipment at a couple of local parks. Delaware Park has several pieces of equipment for all levels. In 2019, the AARP Outdoor Fitness Park opened at Horace “Billy” Johnson Park in Buffalo.
If you’re looking for a fun activity with your friends, try disc golf. It combines frisbee with the concepts of golf — there’s a tee box with a basket at the end that you try to get your disc into. Each hole has a set number of throws for par. You do need your own discs, but most of the courses in the area are free.