Beach yoga

Diana Smoot teaches beach yoga in Miller Beach in Gary.


Indiana’s beaches, backyard pools, public pools — some would say these are summer staples. Others may say these are opportunities to amp up your exercise routine.

“There's a reason why hydrotherapy is preferred for those who are doing rehabilitation. The water gives us additional resistance while protecting our joints from sudden or ballistic movements,” said Ben Martin, a personal trainer in Crown Point. “They even make aqua treadmills for people, canine and equine training.”

A person wanting to experiment with aquatic exercise doesn’t have to be swimming Olympic laps to get results.

Simple exercises such as walking — forward, backward or side steps — squatting or stepping up and down a submerged box or pool steps can be beneficial, according to the Aquatics Exercise Association's website.

Patty Grill, Aquatics Exercise Association group instructor and personal trainer at Fitness Pointe in Munster, said the benefits to working out in the water helps improve balance, flexibility, range of motion and core.

“The water is a great place for rehab — it’s 12 times more resistant than air,” Grill said. “It works opposing muscle groups because of resistance of the water.”

If you can’t get to a pool for exercise, take advantage of the 10-plus beaches in the Region and get a workout in on the sand or in the lake.

“Running in the sand burns up to 1.6 times the amount of calories that you would burn running on a flat surface,” said Martin, who is also the manager for the training department at Anytime Fitness in Crown Point.

“The detailed strength of effort being employed in specific movements, known as proprioception, is heightened when you have surface changes like sand.”

Diana Smoot teaches beach yoga at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday on Miller Beach in Gary.

“I was on the beach just doing my own practice, and I thought, 'Well this isn’t bad.' And I came up with some poses that worked well in the sand and decided to hold a class out here,” said Smoot, who has been a certified yoga instructor for seven years.

Smoot said some people come to the class for the workout but most come for the environment.

“They like being outside, they like the sun. During class people can get in touch the lake and the sunset — people enjoy it,” Smoot said. “It’s more connecting — connecting with your breathing, connecting with yourself and being present in the moment. I like to bring it all together.”

Martin said changing your exercise environment is important.

“Oftentimes the change of scenery has a dramatic effect on our psychology and awareness. You cannot think beyond the level of which you're exposed and getting outside the four walls of our typical gym setting is a great change of pace and therapy in itself,” Martin said. “There's a whole world out there waiting to be engaged. So get off the couch.”