Going to the gym to sweat is always good. But imagine how much nicer doing downward-facing dog or sit-ups might be with majestic views of the Hudson River swooping in and out of your line of sight or under the shade of a tree in a peaceful garden.
"It feels like a mini vacation," said Ellen Forman, who leads yoga classes at Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison. "Some people don't like practicing on the grass because balance can be more challenging, but for me, the benefits -- fresh air, the views and sounds of nature -- outweigh any downsides."
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The Hudson Valley offers many opportunities for outdoor workouts at all levels, from tai chi to kayaking to boot camp. Here's a sampling:
Yoga Loft at the Bedford Post Inn
When the weather cooperates, instructors at Yoga Loft often bring their students outdoors. "You never know when you may be able to practice yoga in nature," said Yoga Loft's director, Rebekah Jacobs. There are two upcoming outdoor workouts scheduled, one on Father's Day, June 16, at 10 a.m., and another on July 4, also at 10 a.m. Both are open to all levels and will take place amid the flowers and ferns of the Zen garden, which offers both shady and sunny spots.
Info: Individual classes are $25; a 10-pack is $200; 954 Old Post Rd., Bedford; 914-234-7800; www.bedfordpostinn.com/yoga-loft
Yoga With A View at Boscobel House and Gardens
Since 2008, Forman has lead this popular yoga class on Monday nights from June to the beginning of September. The yoga style, Forman said, is eclectic and combines different schools of training for all levels. Class sizes range from 15 to 40 and offer views of the Hudson River and the 60 acres of lawns of Boscobel, an 1808 mansion.
Info: Classes go from 6 to 7:15 p.m. on June 10, 17 and 24, July 8, 15, 22 and 29, August 8, 15, 22 and 29 and September 2 and 9, weather permitting; $17; 1601 New York 9D, Garrison; 845-265-3638; www.boscobel.org
Westchester Cycle Club
This recreational bicycle club organizes formal and informal biking events, tours, lectures and other activities in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Dutchess Counties. Many events are open to both members and general public. Members take part in an orientation ride, which helps them find just the right paced group, and there are member-led rides on weekends, weekdays and evenings that wind their way through some of the Lower Hudson Valley's most scenic areas. "Flings" are casual rides that start and end at the same location every Wednesday and Friday.
Info: Membership is $20 per household per year; www.westchestercycleclub.org
Boot Camp by the Beach
Lee Sandford, a personal trainer and local mom, has been offering outdoor boot camps in Westchester for four years. Classes -- which usually include 12-15 students and are 45-minutes long -- take place at the Oakland Beach at Rye Town Park and at Crawford Park in Rye Brook. Stroller classes are offered on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10:15 a.m.
According to Sandford, the fact that her classes take place outdoors makes them much harder. She said that running in the sand and on other natural terrain has been proven to burn up to 60 percent more calories than running on the road. "Crawford is hilly and on the beach -- the sand gives a lot more resistance," she said. Still, "there's not one day when someone doesn't say 'we're so lucky to be out here'. "
Info: Each session is six to eight weeks long, year-round; classes are every day but Sunday; $20 for drop-ins with bulk discounts available; 914-473-3790; www.ryebootcampbythebeach.com
Stoked F.I.T. Camp
Celebrity personal trainer Kira Stokes' Fierce Interval Training classes are not for the faint of heart. In fact, Stokes says she likes to meet with new students ahead of time to make sure they're up for them.
The outdoor classes in Scarsdale and Larchmont include athletic drills, strength training and bodyweight movements.
The workout "will have your heart rate up in its fat burning zone for the majority" of the 90-minute class, Stokes said. At $50 these are on the pricier side, but the classes are small with a maximum of 15 participants and offer personal attention.
"I consider the great outdoors the biggest and best gym in the world," Stokes said. Classes run from March to December.
Info: Classes meet on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in Scarsdale and on Sundays from 8:45 to 10:15 a.m. in Larchmont. $50 per class; email for locations: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.kirastokes.com
Hudson River Recreation
Kayaking is one of those activities that is so enjoyable, you may not notice you're getting exercise. But it's a good way to strengthen the core and upper body while taking in the scenery and spotting birds, ducks and turtles. During its official season -- Memorial Day through Labor Day -- Hudson River Recreation offers kayak rentals as well as three-hour guided tours and lessons. Kayaks can be launched from Echo Canoe and Kayak Launch on Croton River, Croton Point Park and Tarrytown Lakes. Paddle board rentals and two-hour stand-up paddling "instruct-tours" are also offered.
Info: Tours and lessons are on Thursday and Friday evenings, Saturday and Sunday mornings; kayak rentals start at $20 per hour; paddle board rentals are $30 per hour; guided kayak tours range from $69-$99; kayak lessons are $99 and paddle-boarding lessons are $99. 914-682-5135; www.kayakhudson.com
The Tai Chi School
If you want to slow it down a bit, this Bronxville-based school offers outdoor tai chi amid flowering trees on the lawn of West Center Church on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. Students range from their 20s to seniors. "Tai chi is designed for gentle, soft movement," said tai chi master Domingo Colon. "We work on gentle stretching and breathing."
Info: Classes are $20; bulk discounts available; West Center Church, 101 Pondfield Rd. West, Bronxville; 914-337-3339; www.taichischool.com
This educational retreat center in Rhinebeck offers about 350 workshops from April to October, many of which fall into the Mind, Body and Spirit category and incorporate outdoor workouts, some with a little star power. From June 9-14, weight-loss book author Dr. Pam Peeke will lead walks on the sprawling campus as part of a program geared to women and weight issues.
From June 29-30, fitness guru Tony Horton will lead exercises outdoors. From Aug. 11-16, Sierra Bender hosts "Goddess Boot Camp" with outdoor workouts.
Info: Workshops range from $375 to $725; 150 Lake Dr., Rhinebeck; 877-944-2002; www.eomega.org