Vancouverites are always looking for ways to squeeze the most out of every precious hour of summer sunlight. That means taking any indoor activity and moving it outside. For those looking to escape the four walls of the gym, here are a few outdoor fitness options that don’t involve the words Grouse and grind.
When Laural Strang conducts her outdoor yoga classes at Kits Beach, she doesn’t know what to expect. Sometimes strangers walk by and just stare. Others crack jokes. She’s even had drunken lawn bowlers disrupt her class. To Strang, facing that sort of unpredictability is the best way for students to hone their ability to filter out distractions and focus inward. “It makes it more real,” Strang says. “You can sit in a classroom and hear all this philosophy on the ideal way to live your life, but until you put it in practice, it means nothing. Being in public helps you to put things into practice.”
It also helps attract newcomers. Strang’s class, which focuses on the less intense style of hatha yoga, is designed with beginners in mind in the hope that some of those passersby will stop watching and get in on the action. Classes take place at 6 p.m. every Wednesday at Kits Beach, across from the intersection of Yew Street and Cornwall Avenue. For more information, call Oqoqo at 604-732-6188.
Of all the martial arts, tai chi seems to lend itself the most to being performed outdoors. For proof, make an early-morning trip to Queen Elizabeth Park, where you will find people quietly going through the motions at their own unhurried pace. The park even features seven tai chi arbours to provide cover during rainfall. For those who are looking for a little instruction before joining the veterans at QE Park, there are a few options for outdoor classes. The Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada–Pacific Region (www.taoist.bc.ca/ ) holds classes inside its Kingsway studio but often moves them to nearby Robson Park if weather permits. The UBC Botanical Garden is also offering tai chi classes in July. Schedules had not been confirmed at press time. For more information about the UBC classes, call the garden office at 604-822-9666.
People often forget that one of the best workouts they can get is on the dance floor. Peruvian-born instructor Doris Angela offers outdoor classes on the North Shore that cover a range of Latin dance, including salsa, merengue, bachata, and cha-cha. On Thursday nights, she’ll be hosting Salsa by the Sea, which takes place in Ambleside Park by the Ferry Building Gallery. On Fridays, she moves her class to the south plaza of the Lonsdale Quay Market. The drop-in classes run from June 26 to August 29 at 6 p.m. and cost $5. Classes are designed to be inclusive: no dance partner is necessary and all ages and skill levels are welcome. And when things get too heated, some dancers have been known to dive off the Ambleside pier into the cool water below. For more information, contact Angela at 604-202-5903 or email@example.com.
If you didn’t know better, you’d think those large groups of people in public parks going through military drills and getting barked at by a drill instructor are proof that someone is starting a massive private militia right under our noses. Either that or some people just like being yelled at. Whatever it is, our city offers dozens of boot camps that feature gruelling workouts and, more often than not, an instructor who acts as if his class is about to be shipped off to Kandahar. Vancouver’s Beyond Bootcamp (www.beyondbootcamp.ca/ ) takes a more holistic approach that accentuates positivity and fun. Like other boot camps, it features a multidisciplinary regimen that includes an ever-changing mix of strength, aerobic, core, and agility drills. The outdoor setting only adds to the variety: exercises can be performed on varying inclines and during any kind of weather.