EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 29, 2008

Fresh ways to get in swimsuit shape

By Helen Malani

The first day of summer is June 20, which gives us less than two months to get in shape before a season of bathing-suit-centric parties.

Here are exercise activities suggested by the American Council on Fitness, which includes a worldwide network of trainers, group-fitness experts and lifestyle- and weight-management consultants.

r Think outside the gym: Dance studios specializing in hip-hop, ballroom and even line dancing are great ways to sweat with their feel-good moves and group participation. They are favorites because they're "hiding the exercise" with a high fun factor. Other activities include boxing and outdoor boot camps. Before you sign up for any of these great group activities, make sure your feet are well taken care of in the appropriate boxing, running or salsa shoes. You may also want to check with your doctor before engaging in these or any other fitness/exercise regimens.

r Whole body healthy: People striving for long-term health know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And yes, that means putting down the junk food and getting moving instead of hoping for liposuction to bail you out. It also means switching to a healthier mindset to focus less on physical appearances and more on health and longevity. Yoga can be great for making you feel balanced and in tune with yourself. For an especially pleasant class, consider a Gaiam Yoga Mat — it's twice as thick as most mats and has great traction.

r Technology-based workouts: Like exercise videos, downloadable programs on your MP3 players and PDAs are helping people who want to exercise on their own time. There are fitness programs with illustrations and streaming video. For people who like to know exactly how they're doing, tech advancements are making it possible to more precisely measure and track physiological data to improve weight management and performance programming.

r Getting your feet wet: A final trend I love that people are bringing back is water aerobics. Why not re-live the fun of a pool party by exercising in your bathing suit to get yourself, well, bathing-suit ready?