Key Biscayne Magazine, February 01, 2012

Get Out (of Your Comfort Zone)! by Cristy Zuazua

Who says the gym is the only place to get a workout? Check out how you can get fit, expand your social circle, and have a blast this summer.

It’s 2012. And while it’s not January anymore, there is still the constant refrain from mass media: don’t give up on the gym! Keep and it and you’ll get that toned body, lose that extra five pound and look fantastic on the beach this summer!


Granted, a little discipline never hurt anyone. But there are better (and more exciting) ways to work out than watching yourself on the treadmill in that floor length mirror in the gym when it’s beautiful out. You might even make a new friend, or ten.

Get Adventurous.
The daily grind can get pretty overwhelming, and trying to step outside of it can seem daunting, at times. “Due to the transient nature of society and the fast-paced lifestyle of modern society,” explains Michael Karlan, president of the national networking organization, Professionals in the City, “it is easy to feel isolated. The best way to combat this is by getting people out and interacting face-to-face with other members of their community.” To this end, his network organizes activities that span each end of the social spectrum, from clay shooting and horseback riding to health and wellness lectures and ballroom dancing lessons.

With a population of 5.5 million in Miami’s metropolitan area, there is no shortage of groups to join, classes to take, or people to meet. Activities such as windsurfing, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and snorkeling are all locally accessible, and trying something for the first time is a perfect icebreaker for introducing yourself to fellow adventurers. Adds Karlan: “The key is just to get out there. People are very nervous to come the first time. They come into it thinking it will be hard work and something to be tolerated, but they leave having had a lot of fun. We often forget how much fun socializing with new people can be.”

Give a Little.
What do running a marathon, slogging through the everglades and planting some new trees have in common? “They’re all part of a variety of community events and volunteer opportunities we provide for our guests and those in the Miami area,” says Cynthia Betancourt, wine director and advanced sommelier, CWS at the Mandarin Oriental of Miami. Each year, the staff and guests of the Mandarin participate in the Breast Cancer Awareness Marathon and offer the “Miami Everglades Package,” where guests can tour the everglades, plant new foliage, support sustainable living, gain appreciation for the natural resources surrounding them, and top it all off with a spa treatment at the end of the day.

On a more individual note, she has conducts wine classes on-site where she demonstrates how to properly pair wine with a healthy meal, giving attendees an opportunity to learn and get some high-end networking done. “I have headed classes throughout the years and have seen many of our guests form new friendships and business relationships,” she says. “The balance of life with good, home cooked meals, sitting down at the table with your loved ones, and daily exercise can enrich your soul spiritually.”

The are a myriad of other ways to get energized and give back in the community: learning to foxtrot could mean you attend that charity gala this year; making a commitment to start biking and swimming harder could give you the confidence to do a triathlon and raise money for medical research; or simply taking your kids in the back yard and showing them how to plant a garden could up your good karma for the summer.

Bring Friends.
While there’s certainly something to say for crashing a party solo and making a new group of friends your own, there are nothing more invigorating to have your posse around to share your new experiences. That goes double for learning a new skill, be it the tango, kickboxing, or ice skating, all of which burn calories while you learn some new moves. Janet Johnson, assistant skating director at Kendall Ice Arena asserts, “Ice skating – and sports in general – is a very social activity and allows friends to have some very beneficial quality time together and be active at the same time.” Not only can you mingle with other groups, if you find a worthy clique, you can challenge them to a friendly game – be it ice hockey, football, soccer, or basketball – and may the best team win! Nothing burns calories like a little competition, and you won’t even notice you’re doing it. “Exercising,” Johnson adds, “should not be a chore. It should be something that you are enthusiastic about and look forward to doing. I would encourage everyone to get at least 30 minutes of exercise everyday and do something that you enjoy.”

Spend Some Family Time.
Staying active can – and should – be a family activity. As a studies from the National Institutes of Health and others have shown, active parents are more likely to have their children follow suit. “My whole family participates in my Arnis class twice a week,” confirms Chad Bailey, acupuncture physician and martial arts instructor at Shin Wellness. He explains how the time together helps families grow together, giving encouragement when things are tough, and encouragement for goals accomplished. “We all get to be active, share time and fun together and learn a valuable skill. A family that trains together, stays healthy together!”

Martial arts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to range of family activities South Beach families can enjoy – other favorites include tag, zumba, surfing, and rollerblading, to name a few. There are few things better than watching your loved ones pick up a new skill or get into a new activity with a passion and stay healthy while doing it.

So what are you waiting for?

It’s a wide world out there.