Fit Tours NYC is a great example of a company that offers custom outdoor activities for groups. Born and bred in Manhattan, they set the majority of their workouts immersed within the scenic backdrops of Central Park and focus mainly on customizing group activities. They have taken the popular concept of outdoor fitness (offering Power Hour Boot Camp, Guided Runs and yoga options) and added to it by incorporating a scenic and historical tour! Each of their fitness instructors are also certified NY tour guides who recite the rich and fascinating stories of New York’s Central Park as they lead invigorating workouts. Their mantra is “If the views don’t take your breath away the workout certainly will!” and they offer the ultimate in team building as well as individual and group workouts. Now you can offer your attendees an innovative and extreme team building option as they navigate through an obstacle course, participate in a mini Olympics or test true endurance with a boot camp competition.
Many people have a bucket list in mind of must do experiences before they hit the BIG 40! Having already planned a trip to NY to celebrate in style I wanted to reach this milestone feeling fitter than I ever have before. Having been running for a few years I wanted the opportunity to run in one of the most iconic places in the world, Central Park NY.
I didn’t want to run on my own as I knew that during the day would be really busy and a morning or evening run would be the best time for a clear and enjoyable experience. My husband doesn’t run (yet, but I’m working on that!) so I researched guided runs in Central Park. I came across a website called fittoursnyc.com
Advertised was a 5k ‘fun run’. A guided group tour at a comfortable pace allowing you to take in all that the park has to offer whilst also finding out about its history and how it was built. This sounded perfect to me. I booked the run for 6.30am on the morning of my 40th birthday. What better way to kick off the celebrations!
When I left my hotel at 6am the temperature was already 24 degrees! The humidity was high, not the conditions I’d been used to at home. I arrived at the park when it was still dark outside to find out that as it was a quiet time at the moment for Mike Riordan (founder of Fit Tours) and his team due to the kids still being on holiday from school. This meant that I would be on my own. At first I was a little bit apprehensive about this as I was concerned my running pace would not be good enough to chat and run. This apprehension disappeared immediately when I met Mike and his new trainee Caitlin. They instantly put me at ease telling me this would be a fun experience, emphasis on the FUN with plenty of stops along the way to enjoy the beauty of the park whilst also being able to run from point to point.
The park was almost completely empty and as we started to run the sun was just beginning to come up. Our first stop was the Central Park Zoo which although wasn’t open still had an areavisible to the public. We were lucky enough to see one of the Sea Lions as most of them were still asleep and hidden away. We made our way towards the Wollman ice rink which although not in place during the summer, housed a huge fun fair for the kids to enjoy until the ice rink returns in the winter.
We then made our way to the bronze Alice in Wonderland statue, commissioned by George Delacorte in 1959 as a gift to the children of New York City.
It was meant as a tribute to his late wife who had read Alice to their children. We took in the beautiful sights of the Bethesda fountain and terrace, considered the heart of Central Park, a promenade that led to a grand terrace overlooking the lake. Mike pointed out that there are carvings that represent the four seasons on the steps towards the fountain, something I never would have noticed myself. We also saw a huge field, known as the Great Lawn which although just looks like a great expanse of grass, has been the location of many famous concerts, one of which being ‘Simon and Garfunkel, live in Central Park.’ Having been brought up listening to Simon and Garfunkel as my Mum and Dad were huge fans, this was something that made me imagine what it could have been like. When I said this to Mike, he said he had been at that concert and it was amazing. People were hanging off of trees to try and catch a glimpse of Simon and Garfunkel on stage and it was rumoured that there were more than 1 million people in the park that day!
Other sights we visited were Bow Bridge where one of my favourite pictures was taken. The sun was still rising and the way the light shone on the bridge was breath-taking.
Mike then wanted Caitlin and I to pose for their traditional ‘jump’ photo where we had to jump off of one of the park benches and strike a pose. The benches were still wet with morning dew and my jump was a cautious one, the same can’t be said for Caitlin, a trained dancer!! I think she had a slight advantage in being able to strike a pose mid-air!
One of our last stops was the place I wanted to visit the most. Being a huge Beatles fan I couldn’t wait to see Strawberry Fields. When we arrived there was no one there at all. Anyone that’s been to Central Park knows that this is a rare and very special opportunity as during the day this part of the park is heaving with visitors all wanting to pose for a picture by the Imagine circle. We posed for the (obligatory for any Beatles fan) photo just as a local busker was arriving.
Mike said that this same man busks every day by the Imagine circle and has done so for many years. Whilst we were chatting he began to talk to us, telling us that Yoko Ono still regularly comes to the park and how he speaks to her often.
He said many visitors don’t recognize her as she’s old now but she likes that.
When I returned to the park again to walk rather than run I really appreciated my initial encounter with the busker and my quiet time at Strawberry fields as the park was packed. I was able though to listen to the busker singing his own version of Strawberry fields whilst posing for my own ‘paying of respects to John Lennon’ photo at the Imagine circle.
During the entire tour round we encountered very few people, some cyclists, the occasional morning jogger and then some early tourists as the tour came to an end. Being able to run around what is usually a bustling tourist attraction and appreciate all the sights with such a knowledgeable tour guide was something I will remember forever.
I found out so much about the park, how and why it was there, the ideas behind its creation and design whilst also being able to enjoy its beauty against the stunning backdrop of all the sky-rise buildings that surround it.
I really felt like I had had a once in a lifetime experience and would recommend Mike and his team to any other like- minded runners visiting New York.
Traditionally, by the time Super Bowl Sunday rolls around, most people have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions, stopped going to the gym, and fallen back into the usual rut of unhealthy food choices and sedentary life. It’s not really a surprise as the drastic changes in lifestyle are usually such a harsh awakening that it’s almost impossible to believe that anybody would be able to keep it up. Here are some motivational tips to help keep the right frame of mind in order to stick to those resolutions and get through the dark days of winter.
Do start early
Sometimes getting up early is enough of a chore on it’s own. But if you can commit to getting up early to start a new exercise program, the additional effect can lead to other good choices throughout the day. It also eliminates the excuse of being too tired because you had a long day at work. Being active early has been proven to help people stay focused and alert throughout the day, so not only will you feel better, but you’ll accomplish more!
Do find a positive experience
Being active can be different than what you perceive working out to be. Many of my friends in CA and HI are surfers. They get up and ride the waves for an hour before work and are energized and ready to take on the day. If you were to ask if they “work out” they’d say “no”. The point is that they are doing something very active but they don’t consider it working out because it’s fun. It’s “Experiential Exercise”. Surfing may not be an option for you, but there are many fun, active groups springing up around the country that are breaking the mold where exercise is concerned and there are lots of training programs for “Tough Mudders” and “Color Runs” and other types of extreme activities that are really fun to participate in.
Do make it social
There is strength in numbers! It’s amazing how much easier it is to get through a workout when joining a friend or group of friends to be accountable to. In addition to the offbeat running and extreme workout groups (mentioned above), there are more traditional, beginner friendly classes like Zumba and Spinning that are jazzing up the studios with lighting effects and music themes. This can make it so much more fun and exciting for friends to enjoy together than a boring run on a treadmill.
Do think of the consequences of your choices
Many people like to put pictures of fitness models on their refrigerators as a way to discourage themselves from eating something they shouldn’t. However, that can be self defeating and discouraging. Even the most fit amongst us may never be called to model in a fitness magazine, so why aspire to something that simply isn’t realistic? For the people who like visual aides, keep two pictures of yourself handy, one looking as good as you ever have and another in which you look embarrassingly terrible. It’s much more personal to see your potential, good and bad, and the contrast between the two will have a much more profound effect on whether you eat that ice cream or blow off the gym.
Do manage your expectations
Some of the most popular programs on TV show drastic weight loss in people in much worse condition than most of us are. Very few of those people keep that weight off, which is understandable. Not many can afford to spend their daily lives at a resort where nutritionists create menus and personal trainers put them through 3 workouts a day. It’s just not realistic. Most who make resolutions are so focused on the desired result that they forget that it takes modifications to our everyday life which may be tough to adhere to, until they simply become habit. It takes a lot of discipline and most importantly commitment. Once you commit to certain actions, you can focus on steady improvements rather than get frustrated on why you haven’t lost 50lbs in two weeks!
Do not get discouraged by how hard it is sometimes
We’ve all heard it a thousand times, “Nothing worthwhile is ever easy”, and it’s true. In order to make changes in your life, you must break out of your comfort zone. One of the main reasons for the obesity epidemic in our country is how easy and convenient everything has become. We drive to work, spend the day looking at a computer screen, order in lunch, usually pizza or other fast food, drive home and order in more fast food. Most people have even eliminated the activities of grocery shopping and cooking from their lives! Being healthy is not easy at first, especially if you’re used to convenience. It takes time to adjust but have faith, you can do it. Especially if you can find the fun in eating healthy too. There are countless healthy cooking shows, websites and magazines to gather inspiration from.
Do not overhaul everything in your life
Overhauling everything in your life is too drastic a change that can rarely be sustained. Start small. For example, plan on waking up a half hour earlier and either making a healthier breakfast, or walking to work, or doing a set of push-ups and jumping jacks before showering for work. Once you realize that you can do something as simple as these tasks, you can build on that success. The key to really changing your life is to start with small digestible bits.
Do not go it alone
Just like with exercise, eating healthy can be easier when doing it with friends. Start a healthy eating club at work or pick a couple of nights during the week to get together with friends and try new recipes found on the countless healthy cooking shows, online sites or magazines. Social media makes it easy to do it with friends who may not even live in your town or may not even be friends previously.
Do not beat yourself up
Losing composure when you fall off track makes it that much easier to give up completely. After making a mistake, relax and think about how you can make tomorrow a better day. Feeling a little guilty about making the wrong choice shows you care about your commitment to healthier lifestyle, but stressing out about it can be destructive and cause you to quit and fall into a place where you feel bad about yourself. Stay positive and look forward to better decision making in the days to come!
Do not give up
Most people do. They stop their new activities just before they become a habit. Establishing a healthier lifestyle as a series of habits is critical because you become addicted to all of the endorphins and good stuff that happens in your body. Giving up leads to feeling bad which often leads to eating comfort food or drinking alcohol both of which may feel good as a quick fix, but end up making you feel worse afterwards. Change takes commitment and time.
One very important thing to remember is that there’s a difference between motivation and commitment. It’s easy to workout when feeling energetic but when it’s cold or you’ve had a long day at work is when you need to ask yourself why you want a healthier lifestyle. Hopefully the answer alone will help you find motivation. Asking yourself what it means to be committed to a specific goal should help to embrace the changes in your life. Making it fun and social are two of the best tools to help you stay on track during the cold months. Just think how much better you’ll look and feel when it comes time to take off all of the extra clothing layers!
Fit Tours NYC is a company that leads outdoor workouts in and throughout Central Park that combine fitness with sightseeing. Great for business travelers and tourists, they are also a perfect fit for locals eager to break the ordinary routine of working out indoors. Sunday Run-yay (every Sunday at 9:30 a.m,) is designed for locals looking to get some fresh air and a fresh perspective on (often overlooked!) New York City scenery. They are casual weekly workouts: Walk, run, stretch, sweat, and see some amazing Central Park sights at the same time. All fitness levels welcome. FitToursNYC.com
“Mike knows it all and is a gem! Had a blast working out in incredible central park while learning about its history and secrets… loved it, would def recommend and do it again!”
“My run in Central Park was absolutely brilliant!!! Cannot recommend Fit Tours enough! The park is an amazing place and my tour guide Mike was fantastic.”
“Thanks guys!! I had a great time. Much more fun that running on a hotel treadmill (or in rainy London….)”