In the Sea
Not everyone wants or needs a rush when working out. And for many exercise enthusiasts, taking a run or bike ride can provide ample endorphins. However, for water-loving thrill seekers, kiteboarding is an activity to consider, especially if you’re in good physical shape and don’t mind getting extremely wet—and sometimes wild.
Kiteboarding, sometimes referred to as kitesurfing, is a relatively new sport that harnesses the wind with a large, hand-controlled kite that pulls the rider (on a board) across the water, integrating elements of related sports like paragliding, surfing, and windsurfing, as well as even skateboarding and snowboarding. While its history can be traced back to the ’70s and ’80s, it seemed to burgeon at the turn of the century.
Naples resident Al Djindil explains that he’s been kiteboarding in Southwest Florida for about 20 years. “I was blown away by what a cool sport it was; it was in its infancy at the time.”
Djindil relates that he has three kites and three boards. As far as boards go, there are three types: freestyle, surf-like boards, and foil boards. Kites are selected based upon weather conditions. As Djindil explains, “If it’s too windy, you can’t use too big of a kite because the wind will take you away.”
As far as comprising a workout, kiteboarding offers a challenging one. Your body is the only point of connection between the kite and the board, so you must pilot the kite in the sky while simultaneously steering the board in the water.
“It’s an amazing whole-body activity that requires a lot of technique and athleticism; it can be physically exhausting,” says Djindil. “When I was younger, I would stay out for seven hours; now that I’m 50, I can take about two hours at most.”
Enrique Gianello, owner and full-time instructor at Naples Florida Kiteboarding, has taught kiteboarding for 20 years and is the second-longest certified working instructor in the United States with level-four certification credentials. There are plenty of places locally to engage in kiteboarding, including in Naples and Marco Island. Gianello recommends Tigertail Beach, which he says, “is considered one of the best places in the world.” He also recommends the Cape Romano area and, in Naples, beach access at Second Avenue North.
However, it’s not as easy as throwing your equipment in the water and having at it at any nearby beach. Because kiteboarding can be dangerous to oneself and others and there are ecological concerns to weigh, some beaches have very strict regulations or prohibit it altogether. So, it’s important to do your research before you take to the waves and wind.
To start kiteboarding safely and effectively, Gianello recommends training with a certified professional instructor.
“Students learn safety for themselves and bystanders, how to respect the beach and kiteboarding beach access, how to read forecast apps, basic weather knowledge, how to buy equipment, how to fly the kite and self-launch it in the water, and how to get on the board properly,” Gianello says. “Basically, you are learning the sport safely with someone right next to you who knows what they are doing and can stop an accident from happening.”
In the Pool
If you want to safely work out in the water and have access to a pool, water-based workouts may be for you. Land-based workouts are often high impact and can be hard on our bodies. Water exercises can reduce this impact; they’re also a wonderful way to tone muscles, burn calories, build balance, and aid flexibility.
“Even without water-based equipment, the density of the water adds more resistance to moving your limbs than moving through air,” says Lisa Reed, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, an on-air fitness and nutrition expert, and owner of Lisa Reed Fitness. “Whatever you can do on land, you can do in the water, and what you can no longer do on land, you can probably do in the water!”
Water-based exercises are particularly beneficial for seniors, those with cardiac issues, or those who have undergone orthopedic surgeries. “I’ve found it to be a fantastic exercise for expectant mothers,” Reed adds.
Water workouts can be done in a small or large pool. According to Reed, deeper water is best for cardio workouts, while chest-deep water works well for interval and strength workouts. Pool workouts can be done without equipment but incorporating equipment—such as pool dumbbells and belts—can increase intensity of the exercises.
“Pool workouts strengthen the entire body for both beginners or elite athletes and anyone in between,” notes Reed. “They enhance strength, condition, sculpt, help prevent injury, and can even aid in recovery of injuries. Water-based exercises also get the heart pumping.”
“What I thought would be a little jumping around in the pool turned out to be a really intense, thorough workout,” says Margo Jurgenson, 84, who is a client of Reed’s.
All exercise programs should be cleared by your medical professional prior to engaging in any physical activity, explains Reed. She also reports that the pool increases the impact of UVA rays by 25 percent, so it’s important to apply sunscreen often and stay hydrated. Another pro tip from Reed includes wearing swim shoes to protect the bottom of feet.
Gaining Power from the Pool
Get moving in the pool with this workout from Lisa Reed:
- Leg swings, front to back and side to side (10 of each)
- Underwater arm Ts and arm circle swings (10 clockwise, 10 counterclockwise)
Perform each for two laps of the width of the shallow end (about 4 feet in depth):
- Butt kicks
- Knee hugs
- Carioca (also known as grapevine), right and left
- Skipping (for height)
Circuit 1: Repeat 3 times, 30 seconds each
- Water dumbbell chest flyes
- Water dumbbell rear flyes (shoulders should be underwater)
- Tuck jumps in place (jumping up, tucking both knees to the chest)
- Rest: Stretch chest, back, shoulders, quads, glutes, and hamstrings
Circuit 2: Repeat 3 times
- Pushups against side of pool (10 times)
- Windshield wipers (10 times)
- Kickboard (2 laps)
- Rest: Stretch
Circuit 3: Repeat 3 times
- Water dumbbell biceps curls to triceps press-downs
- Tread water 1 minute
- Rest: Stretch biceps, triceps, and shoulders
- Swim a lap to finish
On the Court
Most people have heard of cardio tennis, but cardio pickleball is catching on, too. At the Naples Pickleball Center, Nancy Robertson—an International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association certified instructor—teaches the one-hour class, which typically includes six to seven players.
“Cardio pickleball classes offer a fast-paced version of the game,” says Robertson, a four-time U.S. Open pickleball champion. “I feed the ball, participants play out the point, and I quickly feed the ball again.” A “king-of-the-court” format is followed, which means if a player wins a point, they stay on the court and continue to play.
Cardio pickleball is a bit of a niche, according to Robertson. “It is rare as far as I know,” she says. “I was told about it from another pro in the area, and I think we are the only two doing it. More and more new players are coming [to the class]. They love it; word is spreading.”
Most attending the class are 45 years old or older, though Robertson reports that younger people have participated and showed appreciation, too. There is a 3.0 skill level requirement for Robertson’s class, which has only been available for a few months at Naples Pickleball Center.
“Naples Pickleball Center is committed to providing an outlet and services for a healthy lifestyle, both physically and socially, to maintain a quality, meaningful life,” says Bob Strommen, managing partner, Naples Pickleball Center.
It’s called cardio pickleball for good reason. The atmosphere is upbeat, and the goal is to get the heart working. “We have music blasting, so people get in a good mood,” says Robertson. “Sometimes, they start dancing; the energy is great. I feel like I’ve done my job well if they walk off the court dripping wet, and they usually do.”
On the Trail
Hiking and Biking
With so much sea around, it’s easy to forget about the abundant verdant trails available for hiking and biking in our area. There are many to explore by foot or by bike, including those maintained by CREW (Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed) Land & Water Trust, a private nonprofit partnership established in 1989, composed of adjoining landowners, businesspeople, governmental agencies, and others. Ultimately, CREW coordinates land acquisition, land management, and public usage for the more than 60,000-acre watershed project that includes Corkscrew Marsh, Flint Pen Strand, Bird Rookery Swamp, and Camp Keais Strand.
CREW offers a variety of educational programs geared toward almost all ages. It also maintains four trail systems, which make up approximately 40 miles, including three elevated boardwalks. In addition to hiking and biking, there are even designated equestrian trails.
CREW offers guided hikes and bikes on its trail systems, including Bird Rookery Swamp, Flint Pen Strand, Cypress Dome Trails, and Marsh Trails. Because the habitats on the trails are diverse, there’s an opportunity to take in an abundance of wildlife.
“Our lands are a mosaic, so as you weave around the wetlands, you may get up in some pines or come across another area where there’s a different habitat altogether,” explains Corey W. Campbell, communication director and volunteer coordinator, CREW Land & Water Trust.
The most popular trail makes a loop through Bird Rookery Swamp. Guided hikes through this area last about two hours and cover about two miles of trail, while guided biking lasts from three to four hours and covers about 12 miles of trail. Typically, the guided hikes and bike rides start in November and run through April.
While none of the trails are paved, they are made of hard, compacted gravel or, in some instances, boardwalk. Campbell recommends dressing in layers; bringing a walking stick for stability (if hiking), bug spray, sunscreen, and a hat; and wearing close-toed shoes. He also advises to stay on the trail and to be aware of wildlife.
“If you respect wildlife, it typically respects you back,” he says. “Keep an eye out for what’s there.”
Campbell adds that hikers and bikers can expect to see amazing flora and fauna: “It’s a great opportunity to connect to nature and see places that people don’t often get to anymore.”