After one of the most brutal winters Canada has seen in years, summer is warming our souls. Every new day of sunshine and heat is like a magnet drawing us outside to be active, get fit and have fun.
But what should you do? Dip into the trails for a run or ride? Head to the beach for volleyball? What about getting on your paddleboard for yoga or a float on the water. IMPACT asked some summer sport fanatics to convince you that their pastime is the one you should take up this summer. Here’s what our summer fun champions had to say.
1. Stand Up Paddleboard – Soak up life on the water
Diana Lee – 33, Toronto
Librarian & outdoor adventurer
Although I paddle all year long, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is the most perfect summer sport because:
It gets you exploring – whether you’re paddling on a river that runs through town, on a small cottage lake, the Great Lakes or an ocean, SUP gets you out there and can give you a new perspective. I love getting out on Lake Ontario and looking back at the beautiful Toronto skyline.
There are so many ways to enjoy SUP – SUP yoga (yes yoga on the board!), river SUP, SUP fishing… there are just so many ways you can enjoy being so close to the water on a stand-up paddleboard!
It’s not your average summer hang-out activity with your friends – forget the patios and backyard BBQs. Get out to the riverside park or your local beach and hit the water with your squad!
SUP Resources: Whether I’m looking for more technical tips to improve my paddling skills, what kind of gear to buy, people to paddle with or upcoming paddling events, I always turn to SUPGirlz. Google up SUP in your city to see wha’SUP in town!
2. Mountain Biking – The fastest way to get around the forest
Quinn Lanzon – 29, Whistler, B.C.
Copywriter at Origin design; Director of Public Relations at Whistler Off Road Cycling Association
Mountain bike is the fastest way to get around the forest. You probably live near some awesome trails and being able to get on the bike and pedal from home is one of the most rewarding adventures you can go on.
It’s super challenging, in whatever way you want it to be. If you’re looking for technical challenge or want to push your mental limits on jumps or steep trails you can. But you can also ride a mountain bike for physical fitness, all while playing in the woods.
You can do it in any weather. Mountain bikes are incredibly versatile machines, so you can get out there rain or shine, even in the snow.
MTB Resources: Pinkbike.com and Vitalmtb.com are pretty much all you need to know. Trailforks.com is the best way to discover trails near you and all over the world.
3. Beach Volleyball – Sun’s in your face, sand’s in your toes
Kumiko Chow – 29, Vancouver
Physiotherapist & beach volleyball enthusiast
I play beach volleyball 4-6 times a week at Kitsalano Beach all summer. Last year I played in a beach volleyball tournament every weekend of the summer in B.C. and Washington. The rush of adrenaline and joy after winning a tight game or helping my team make a crazy play is indescribable.
Being able to play outside in the sun by the ocean with the sand between my toes is amazing. The soft sand makes it easier on your joints compared to playing indoor, and it’s great exercise that burns a lot of calories.
Beach volleyball is also cheap to play. All you need is a net and a ball and you can play all day for a whopping $0! I usually play five times a week without spending a dime — other than post-practice beers with my friends!
Beach Volleyball Resources: www.volleyball.ca has great volleyball links and all the provincial sites for leagues, camps and tournaments. McKibbin Volleyball page on Facebook or Instagram is full of beach volleyball tutorials, secrets and funny interviews with professional ballers.
4. Trail Running – Take two trail runs and call me in the morning
Pete Estabrooks – 59, Calgary
TKO instructor/Personal Trainer
Instagram: @fitguy1959 Twitter: @thefitguycanada
Running trails in the summertime is like an endless first date with Mother Nature. As you sink out of the sight lines of anything civilized, you are instantly tongue tied, exhilarated, breathless and falling over yourself with joy.
Nature’s sights and sounds (or lack thereof) become sharp and focused while the fresh clean air that surrounds you fills your lungs and seemingly pulls you happily uphill or wafts gently underfoot and speeds you gleefully down nature’s alleyways.
It is not a rare event where you can squeeze in four hours of thinking and a weekend worth of relaxing into a one hour trail run. A smart doctor will always advise: “Take two trail runs and call me in the morning.”
Trail Running Resources: Trailembassy.com is the social network for trail runners, with members all over the world. Sign up and you’ll have running partners anywhere you travel.
5. Yoga – Namastay outside this summer
Ariel Grace – 35, Toronto
Yoga, Pilates & Barre Instructor
With warmer weather upon us, there’s no better time to roll out your yoga mat and take your practice outside. Why?
You don’t need a thing! Practicing yoga barefoot on uneven surfaces like grass or sand encourages deeper core engagement for balance and stability. Look to nature for the ultimate yoga props, consider using a tree to help stabilize balancing poses … and if you fall, grass makes for a soft landing.
Sun salutations (Surya Namaskar) are hugely effective to warm up and prepare your body for a yoga practice. Turn your mat to face the sun and allow its rays to shine down on every part of your body as you begin to move.
Conscious breath work (Pranayama) and meditation have positive impacts on both mind and body, reducing stress and anxiety. Start a mini digital detox in your backyard, local park, beach or a forest. Tune into your senses; listen to the birds sing, feel the wind blowing and the sun shining, smell the fresh grass. Take full, deep, mindful breaths of fresh air, revitalizing your prana (energy/life force) and allow yourself to soak in the warm, grounding effects of Mother Nature — in a park, not a parka!
Yoga Resources: YogaStar mobile app, featuring a virtual studio for Yoga and meditation. www.yogastaronline.com