As Severna Park resident John Judge was taking his kids back and forth to sports practices, he realized he was in a funk.
“I thought, ‘I need some activity for myself or I’m going to spend all my time driving my kids to their activities,’” Judge says.
He started working out at the Severna Park Community Center, but Judge wasn’t just jogging on the treadmill or swimming laps. He took up kendo, the art of Japanese swordplay.
And that isn’t the only unusual way to get a workout in Anne Arundel. If you’re looking for something weird to beat the winter blues, consider these classes.
Kendo & Iaido
Since Judge started kendo a decade ago, he’s become an instructor at the community center.
He trains new students every January, May, June and September before the Baltimore Annapolis kendo team takes on a big tournament in Annapolis each summer.
The martial art is similar to fencing. Participants wear armor and use flexible swords made of bamboo.
“You get to hit each other without worrying about hurting each other,” Judge says. “Compared to other martial arts where people get hurt frequently, this is pretty safe and pretty fun.”
Before Judge’s class, the club has iaido sessions. iaido is also a sword art but focuses instead on drawing the sword. In perfecting one’s form, metal awareness, balance, control and reaction times sharpen.
Baltimore-Annapolis kendo charges an $80 monthly fee. Iaido is 6:30-7:15 p.m. and Kendo starts at 7:15 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday at Severna Park Community Center, 623 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd. 410-647-5843. baltimoreannapoliskendo.com
You don’t have to be a dancer to enact the elegant art of aerial silks. Anyone can be good at silks, Studio 180 director Katie King says, if they’re willing to put in the time and effort.
“It’s a lot of strength training, but it’s so rewarding,” she says. “You’ll find a wide range of people in there... Women, men, old, young, anyone interested in an alternative form of fitness, because it’s a great way to get in shape and an art form.”
The 90-minute class starts with aerial-specific warm-up and conditioning exercises. Even for fitness gurus and people in great shape, King says these can be challenging. Aerial requires a level of forearm and grip strength that most people don’t have.
Then, you learn to climb the silk. Participants learn foot locks, techniques to wrap the silk around one’s feet in order to stay in the air while doing tricks. This is more technical than it seems, King says.
Behind the scenes at the Capital Style magazine cover photo shoot. Lloyd Fox photographs instructor Katie Embster at Studio 180 in Annapolis, Maryland.
After mastering foot locks, the next step is inversion. Participants learn different ways to wrap the silks around their bodies to go upside down and do tricks like aerial splits and mid-air arabesques.
“What I found is that this is a really foolproof way to change your body,” King says. “It trains your body in a way that you lean out and gain muscle simply because you’re in the air.”
Classes are $35 for each Tuesday night drop-in from 7:30-9 p.m. The studio also offers a 10-class drop-in card that can be used over the course of a year for $315. Studio 180, 131 Gibralter Ave., Annapolis. 410-268-5299. studio180dance.com.
Yoga Factory Annapolis has taken Buti —a variation of yoga that incorporates traditional vinyasa technique with plyometrics (jump-training) and tribal dance moves — and turned it into Buti Glow.
On some Friday nights, the studio becomes something like a nightclub as 20-30 yogis covered in glow-in-the-dark body paint wave glow sticks under black lights in otherwise complete darkness.
Keeping the class to women only makes it liberating, Yoga Factory Annapolis co-owner Philip Vendemmia says. His wife and the studio’s other co-owner, Emily Vendemmia, leads the class.
“Having the room darker gets women to move and not think people are watching, to be free with their bodies,” Philip Vendemmia says.
The one-hour class is great for beginners, Vendemmia says, but Buti’s signature poses and tribal dance movements also keep the practice high energy.
Yogis arrive an hour early to cover themselves in body paint and glow-in-the-dark jewelry supplied by the studio. The more white you wear, the more you pop while you practice.
Yoga Factory Annapolis’ next Buti Glow class is Jan. 10. Buti Glow sessions are periodically on Fridays at the studio, which regularly offers non-glow Buti practice. Drop-ins are $20. 1901 West St., Suite 105, Annapolis. yogafactoryannapolis.com. 410-268-3978.
The phrases “line dancing” and “beach body” don’t usually go together, but this class promises exactly that. Beachbody, the same company that designed programs like p90x, PiYo and Insanity, has created a country workout. And instructor Linda Roberts guarantees you’ll sweat like a glass of sweet tea on a summer day.
Roberts isn’t a country music fan but says she enjoys teaching Country Heat more than some other dance workouts like Zumba.
Choreographer Mark Martinez says he was inspired to create the class because as a country fan, he always walks away from line dancing sweating.
Instead of learning a new dance for each song, the whole Country Heat class is focused on building a line dance.
“In some classes, people get lost and they don’t sweat because they walk out lost on confused,” Martinez says.
Repeating each step can lead to some intense intervals. Some steps are basic, like the grapevine. Others are squats, which can turn into a leg workout or jumps, which brings in cardio.
The class, usually about five to 10 participants, also works on strength with weights, floor workouts or at the barre before cooling down.
“We built it where if you’re 65 and you want to do it sitting down you can. If you’re 22 and you want to do it sitting down you can. You can take it at your speed,” Martinez says. “You can make it a p90x sweat-til-you-drop class.”
Each class is about 45-60 minutes depending on the number of breaks taken. Since Beachbody has discontinued Country Heat, Roberts says she’ll continue teaching the same class as Country Cardio starting in the new year.
Available to Heritage Harbor members on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. and at Pip Moyer Recreation Center, 273 Hilltop Lane, Annapolis, on Thursdays at 7 p.m. Drop-in rates range from $6-10. annapolis.gov/412/Pip-Moyer-Recreation-Center. 410-263-7958.
After 30 years of playing competitive tennis, Eenee Ferrano had a hard time making friends and getting court time when she moved to Annapolis. But pickleball solved both those problems.
After joining the Annapolis Pickleball Club, Ferrano became one of 630 members of the casual rotation at the Pip Moyer Recreation Center. Every day from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m, players rotate in 20-minute games at the center’s nine indoor courts.
"You don’t have to commit to a group or a time, so there’s freedom for joining to try out and play,” Ferrano says.
The club also offers a free beginner’s class on Wednesdays at noon and a ladder league on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Sort of like a cross between badminton and ping pong, pickleball requires an underhand serve with a wiffle ball. Singles and doubles are played on the same court, which is half the size of a tennis court.
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley got hooked on pickleball after just one game.
“I just did it because I kept promising someone I would show out to the club,” Buckley says. “It only takes one time and you’re hooked. It’s kind of funny how it draws you in.”
If you’re not a runner or swimmer, you can still Deep Water Jog, instructor Colleen Winans says.
Unlike a typical water aerobics class, Winans’ class takes place entirely in the Y in Arnold’s deep end for a low-impact full-body workout.
Winans offers an option to wear a flotation belt that goes around the jogger’s hips to help maintain posture and take some pressure off of staying afloat. She also uses noodles and barbells for resistance training.
Along with strengthening the core, the body rotation in deep water works just about every part of the body. Joggers can take it easy and get a good stretch or add more cardio work.
“It’s a great way to ramp up your fitness without the impact on your bones and joints,” Winans says. “I don’t care if you’re 20 or 90. Water has great healing powers.”
Classes are 8-8:45 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Y in Arnold, 1209 Ritchie Highway, Arnold. ymaryland.org. 410-544-2525. Y members only. Members can bring guests.
Staying in shape doesn’t mean you have to grow up. With this workout, you can even fly through the air like Peter Pan.
Each month, Gold’s Gym in Crofton hosts bungee fitness.
Participants are strapped into a harness, which is hooked to a bungee cord hanging from the gym’s ceiling.
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With the bungee holding your weight, you can jump, do yoga poses, run in place, dance, do pushups, do lunges and fly around the room.
“Your feet are still on the floor, but your weight is taken off of you and you bounce back, like an adult Johnny Jumper,” instructor Stacie Pulcher says.
The class is only 30 minutes, but Pulcher says that’s all you need.
"Your body doesn’t know how hard it’s working because your weight has been removed by the bungee,” Pulcher says. "You can do things you wouldn’t be able to do under normal body weight or do them for longer.”
Bungee fitness was designed for people with low mobility, like those with knee replacements, joint problems and people who usually are in wheelchairs. With the bungee taking the pressure off, there’s much less strain on the joints than usual.