SLIDESHOW: Boot camp at the beach a fun cool-down
As cool-downs go, it was fast, fun and effective.
And wet. Very, very wet.
Members of Beachfit, a fitness class run on Martinique Beach, just outside of Halifax, were lined up along the water’s edge for a few minutes of stretching. But the waves crashing to shore just a few feet away were impossible to ignore.
Early-morning fog had burned off uncharacteristically fast, warming the beach and the women who had made it to the class on a holiday Monday.
“Sometimes I don’t even wait until the stretching is finished,” says Lena Thompson, the first one to peel off her socks and shoes and discard them in a heap beside her, just out of reach of the tide.
“I just run right in.”
Holding our final stretch for only seconds, we glance at instructor Lori Taylor, who gives the nod that class is officially over. She knows she’s already lost the battle to keep everyone focused.
But she’s good with that.
“This is what it’s about,” says Taylor. “Getting out. Feeling the energy. It’s kind of a no-brainer.”
As is the choice to rush into the ocean, jumping the crashing waves and, finally, ducking under, letting the cold water penetrate every sweaty pore.
Some don’t hesitate, laughing like kids as they are swallowed up instantly, while others hang back, easing gently into the water.
There is no right or wrong way. Participation matters most, just as it does in Beachfit, says Taylor.
“I want everybody to be able to do it,” says Taylor of the class she runs from March to December, depending on the weather.
“I’m not doing traditional boot camp stuff because that scares people in this environment. It’s a hard sell.”
While Beachfit shows Taylor’s gentle side, the deeply tanned personal trainer is capable of make people sweat and did so regularly several years ago at popular boot camps in the Halifax area.
“(Boot camp) didn’t scare people in Halifax,” laughs Taylor. “I did it at Citadel Hill, I did it at Point Pleasant Park, I did it at the Dingle, I did it at Shubie Park. There would be between 25 and 50 people, and they wanted some serious pain.”
Taylor, whose clients range from a Halifax Mooseheads player to a 94-year-old woman, has been doing Beachfit for six years. Classes, which run 9 a.m. Mondays and Thursdays, embrace the beauty of the setting and feature lunges from a boardwalk, step-ups on picnic tables, strength training using rocks and V-sits on beach towels.
“I love for people to discover the beauty and energy of the outdoors. I love for people to discover how wonderful they are and how much they can gain by pushing their comfort zones.”
Taylor, 45, knows all about pushing past comfort zones.
“I’m a serious outdoor person. I live my life outdoors. I do adventure racing. And running, biking, kayaking, canoing, marathon. Kilimanjaro. Any adventure, I’m in.”
But for many, pushing past the comfort zone might mean simply getting to class. Getting past the fear factor and the intimidation of group fitness and celebrating what your own body can do.
“I want people to get outdoors using their own bodies, using what they have in their own environment. You don’t have to go to a gym, run on a treadmill. Who can talk themselves into that?
“Helping people transform themselves is what I do,” says Taylor. “And I absolutely love what I do.”
It shows. Taylor’s enthusiasm is infectious, her passion genuine. Her Beachfit devotees include young and old, as well as a mother and three adult children.
In between bouts of laughter and sociable chatting, quads, glutes and core get worked and sweaty women swat bugs while doing triceps dips.
All the while the ocean beckons with its promise of a cool-down like no other.
“This was not a hard workout but to some people it will be,” says Taylor, who knows that word of mouth can scare people from trying new classes with unfamiliar instructors. “It will be like ‘It was in the sand, it was hot.’”
But Taylor aims to make Beachfit accessible and inclusive by changing people’s notions of how a former boot camp instructor runs a class.
“They have to meet me in a different way. They will come to Yogafit or maybe they’ll come to Zumba and they will be like ‘OK, she’s nice. She doesn’t yell at me.’
“At boot camp I did yell, but that’s boot camp,” Taylor laughs. “I still laugh a lot, though.”
Online: Check out Lori Taylor's brand of fitness at www.loritaylor.ca.
Deborah Wiles, an editor with The Chronicle Herald, also writes a column in Canadian Running.