Northern Virginia is home to the fittest city in the country (Arlington) and 32 regional parks, so it’s not too surprising that fitness aficionados like to work up a sweat outdoors. This spring, they have some new ways to do it.
Combine two popular and proven health activities – walking and forest bathing – in this Fairfax County Park Authority class designed for participants ages 13 and up who can trek 4 to 6 miles over Riverbend Park’s varied terrain. The benefits are many, but “the big one is stress relief,” says Hannah Hutton, an FCPA fitness director. “That’s a component we really get a ton of from actually being outdoors and from being in green spaces. Then the cardiovascular exercise … is excellent for your heart.”
Where: Riverbend Park, 8700 Potomac Hills St., Great Falls
When: Thursdays, 9:30 to 11 a.m. from April 7 to May 26, and Sundays, 9 to 11 a.m. from April 24 to May 22
Cost: $142, although discounts and scholarships are available
Adult players can learn or hone a skill each week of this nine-week new offering that targets a different aspect of the game every time. For instance, there’s “Fancy Feet” for footwork development and “Drop it Like It’s Hot” for practicing a drop shot opponents can’t return. Each drop-in class consists of an hour of instruction and 30 minutes of play. “It really bridges the gap between a beginner player to an intermediate and advanced player,” says Angela Davis, Pros to You Tennis’s director of operations and player experience.
Where: Eight locations
When: Weeks of April 11 to June 13
Cost: $40/class for nonmembers, $35/class for members
Choose your own fitness adventure in this three-in-one class, says Laura Waller, owner of PowerFull Fitness, which has offered outdoor workouts since 2015. Taught by a certified running coach, the class starts with strength and core work before participants move into one of three high-intensity interval training plans: track work (think endurance and speed drills for those who are training for spring races) and bleacher and field work for strength and agility. Expect to do push-ups, shuttle runs, and Tabata – short bursts of hard work with even shorter recoveries in between.
Where: 8519 Tuttle Rd., West Springfield
When: Thursdays, 5:15 a.m. from March 31 to May 12
Cost: $66 per six-week session, drop-in available
The Latin dance-style class isn’t new, but it is kicking off earlier than usual because of its popularity, said Christine Belotti, group exercise director at The Fitness Equation (TFE), which hosts the classes. Open to all fitness levels and ages, the class, which typically attracts 50 to 60 participants, starts with a warm-up and moves through several dance formats such as salsa. “It’s mainly about having fun and moving around. You don’t have to be perfect at it,” Belotti said, adding that it’s still a workout. “It does work every muscle group in your body.”
Where: OneLoudoun, 20626 Easthampton Plz., Ashburn
When: Thursdays, 7 to 8 p.m., from May 5 to October 27
Do down-dogs with puppies and hold cat pose with kittens at this monthly hourlong hatha yoga class that focuses on breath and physical postures. A Yoga Alliance-certified instructor takes participants through common poses while the baby animals look on or join in. “After you’ve been out in the fresh air, you’ve stretched, you’ve gotten that blood flow going in your body, you’re going to feel good, but it’s the mental and the spiritual element with the animals. We don’t say it’s actual therapy but it really is,” says Maddie Marsh, a farmhand at Little Goat Farm at the Lake. Currently, the farm is donating 100 percent of the $40 class fee to Doctors Without Borders to train Ukrainian physicians in trauma care.
Where: Little Goat Farm at the Lake, 8954 Burwell Rd., Nokesville
When: Monthly on Sundays at 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
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