Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Get moving without losing your cool in the Florida heat

It has been said that summer in Florida is kind of like winter up north — time to avoid going outdoors.

They've got killer blizzards. We've got humidity thick enough to chew and mosquitoes the size of hamsters.

So we huddle in our climate-controlled dens, hoping for a break in the weather.

But that can get boring. Not to mention unhealthy.

Still, it sure is hot out there, and that sun is mighty strong. So we've rounded up some outdoor and indoor spots where you can be active — and avoid heatstroke.

You can achieve a great summer workout at your favorite gym, yoga or Pilates studio, with an evening run or walk, water aerobics class, you name it. Our list focuses on fun activities that you might not think of as a workout, but they could very well work you out. Or at least give you a good laugh.

As our cover model Terry Tomalin showed us in his spectacular entry into the Rainbow River, sometimes the best way to keep your cool in the summertime is to loosen up and even get a little goofy.


If you really want to be outdoors, your best bet for not-so-hot fun in summertime Florida is a day trip to a cold, crystal-clear natural spring. Among outdoor editor Terry Tomalin's favorites:

Juniper Springs, Ocala National Forest (about two hours north of Tampa)

Loll around in the water, or bring your goggles and a set of swim fins for a real workout. The more energetic can follow up with a hike or rent a canoe for the 7-mile run down Juniper Creek. For information, call (352) 625-3147 or visit tinyurl.com/nwkxxhk.

Rainbow River, Dunnellon

This well-known tubing and kayaking destination 100 miles north of Tampa Bay can get crowded on weekends, but go early on a weekday and you might have the 5.6-mile run all to yourself. The water is exceptionally clear, the color aqua, which is why the early settlers called it Blue Run. Try floating facedown, with mask and snorkel, letting the river carry you along. Rainbow Springs State Park provides transportation up river and also rents tubes and dive flags, a must-have for snorkelers. Call (352) 465-4035 for reservations or visit floridastateparks.org.

Ichetucknee River, Fort White

Most folks who tube down this 6-mile-long river just kick back, relax and let the current do all the work. To burn some calories and get a great arm and abdominal workout, you've got to "power tube." Lie facedown on the tube and paddle as if you are on a surfboard. Take a break when you can't do any more, then start again. Several vendors rent tubes just outside the park entrance. Get there early because the park allows only a limited number of tubers on the river each day. Call (386) 497-4690 or visit floridastateparks.org.


Zumba and step classes aren't the only ways to dance yourself fit. You say you can't dance? No problem. Lots of places start the party with just enough free instruction to get you going. Here are just a few:


At the historic Gulfport Casino, there's a dance for everyone. Sundays it's ballroom. Mondays offer the hustle. Tuesday has a noon ballroom session, and in the evening Argentine tango. Wednesday is swing night, and Thursday is salsa. The casino is on the waterfront at 5500 Shore Blvd. S., Gulfport. Call (727) 893-1070 or get the full calendar at tinyurl.com/nqxjrgy.


Largo Community Center's 5,600-square-foot hardwood floor is open for swing dancing and socializing on Saturday nights. It starts with a free lesson at 7 p.m. and a DJ dance from 8 to 11 at 400 Alt. Keene Road, Largo.

Ballroom and Latin

Dance on Waters serves up an evening of ballroom and Latin dancing accompanied by a DJ on Saturday nights at 3301 W Waters Ave., Tampa. Call (813) 931-3269.

Scottish country

For something completely different, how about Summer Scottish Country Dancing? It's Sundays at 6 p.m. at the Scottish American Society Hall, 917 Louden Ave., Dunedin. And yes, classes are available.


You can't possibly complain about the heat when you're skating around on the ice, though you can definitely work up a sweat. If you haven't skated in years, you'll find plenty of instruction available, and skate rentals, at area rinks, including:

Tampa Bay Skating Academy 255 Forest Lakes Blvd., Oldsmar, (813) 854-4010 or funleaguegroup.com

Clearwater Ice Arena 13940 Icot Blvd., Clearwater, (727) 536-5843 or clearwatericearena.com

Tampa Bay Skating Academy at Westfield Countryside 27001 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater, (727) 723-7785 or funleaguegroup.com

Ice Sports Forum 10222 Elizabeth Place, Tampa, (813) 684-7825 or theicesportsforum.com

For skating without the ice Astro Skate (astroskatingcenter.com) has locations at 10001 66th St. N, Pinellas Park, (727) 546-0018, or 875 Cypress St., Tarpon Springs, (727) 938-5778. You'll burn, oh, about a zillion calories on roller skates, and if you'd rather do your thing without the little kids, Astro Skate offers Wednesday Night Adult Night for ages 17 and up.


Wheeeee! With a field of bouncing surface stretching some 20,000 square feet (that's more than four basketball courts) and trampolines set at angles so you can literally bounce off the walls, AirHeads Indoor Trampoline Arena is a great place to be a kid again.

Adults don't need to have kids in tow to enjoy these fun zones because there are events just for grownups. Both the Tampa and Pinellas locations have dodgeball on Thursday nights and trampoline fitness classes such as "airobics" boot camp, Zumba and yoga.

See airheadsusa.com for times and specials.

• 5072 W Linebaugh Ave., Tampa, (813) 324-5761

• 12401 Belcher Road, Largo, (727) 324-6772


Here in flat Florida, it can be tough to leave the ground. But if you've got the nerve and the upper body strength, Vertical Ventures Indoor Rock Climbing Gym, 5402 Pioneer Park Blvd., Tampa, can lift you up. Ventures offers rock-climbing in an indoor gym up and across 6,000 square feet of man-made rock walls. An introductory class is part of the first visit and includes admission, gear, 20 minutes of belay instruction (how to hold the ropes for a climber) and one return visit. Call (813) 884-7625 or go to verticalventures.com.


Maybe your dad's bowling league didn't see it this way, but bowling actually can be a good workout for legs and arms, while improving balance and promoting flexibility. And it's fun even if you're a terrible bowler, which may be the best benefit of all. Plus they have those awesome shoes. And the shirts. And the swirly-colored balls. Let's go now! We can't even count all the lanes in the Tampa Bay area. Maybe it would be a good summer project to try them all until you find your favorite. A few suggestions:

Seminole Lanes Bowling Center 8668 Park Blvd., Seminole, (727) 392-2271 or seminolelanes.com

This 60-lane hangout has a few things you may not find at most lanes, including a newly remodeled karaoke lounge and country Galactic Bowling on Wednesday nights, with lasers juxtaposed against videos of cowboys and country girls on 10-foot screens. Regular Galactic Bowling is Friday and Saturday nights. The same folks own another favorite, Sunrise Lanes Bowling, 6393 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg. Visit sunriselanes.com.

Splitsville 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, (813) 514-2695 or splitsvillelanes.com

Want to dress up and sip cocktails as you hurtle a bowling ball around? Here's your spot. At night, there's a dress code, and unaccompanied minors are verboten. Prices are steeper than most, but it's a popular place, so you might make a reservation.

PIN CHASERS, with locations in Tampa and Zephyrhills, is among the venues for this weekend's National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Sunday, those athletes will be at the Midtown Pin Chasers, 4847 N Armenia Ave., Tampa, (813) 877-7418, and the Veterans location, 5555 W Hillsborough Ave., (813) 884-1475. The newest location is 6816 Gall Blvd., Zephyrhills, (813) 782-5511. Go to pinchasers.net for special deals and features at each location.

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