JANUARY 1ST: THE CALENDRICAL harbinger of rebirth and resolution (we know we’re a little late this year; we blame the post-New Year’s Eve haze). It’s the time of year where nearly every magazine issue is headlined something terribly unoriginal, like “New Year, New You!” — more like new year, same old cliché intended to propel us toward holistic self-improvement. Yet every year, we resolve to treat everyone with kindness, to start saving up for retirement, to call grandma more. As lofty as those resolutions may be, for many, New Year’s resolutions tend more toward the concrete, mostly in the form of complete physical overhaul. Diets are obsessively researched and implemented, gyms are joined and we all swear that this year will be the year we finally lose those last few stubborn pounds (many of which were no doubt added during the decadent December holiday season).
Come Jan. 1, neighborhood gyms countrywide are packed with optimists trying to turn over a new leaf. They ride the ellipticals like hamsters on wheels, pack out Flywheel/SoulCycle/(insert trendy spinning facility here) classes and flock to juice bars in droves, praying that a green juice a day really will keep the doctor away. And good on them — with the CDC estimating that, as of 2016, 39.8 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese, it’s harder than ever to stay fit and healthy amidst the myriad daily temptations to be anything but. (To those of you who are already avid gym goers, fear not — we all know that most of these new fitness fanatics will keep those running resolutions for about a month and then their gym memberships will collect dust along with their gifted holiday tchotchkes. You’ll get your treadmills back soon, I promise.)
Luckily for those of us in Key West, there are plenty of resources for those who find themselves in need of a little extra support in switching out Drumsticks for carrot sticks, or for those who feel that running should be reserved for situations in which one is chasing down the ice cream truck (I’m a sucker for a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Bar myself). From butt-kicking personal trainers to Nirvana-inducing yoga classes, vegan brownies to juice bars, Key West has your new healthy lifestyle covered — meaning that when you find yourself struggling to stick to your resolution to turn that #dadbod into a Jason Momoa-as-Aquaman facsimile, you can rest assured that there’s an army of wellness warriors standing by to help you get back on track.
Although no one likes to acknowledge it, a regular exercise regimen is the foundation of any healthy lifestyle. For a small island, Key West has plenty of options to suit couch potatoes, triathlon competitors and just about everyone in between. For the former, there can’t be an easier workout regimen to begin than yoga, which can range from slow-moving, therapeutic classes to challenging cardio flows. Just swap out the couch cushions for one of Shakti Yoga’s (1114 White St.) mats and you’re on your way to long, lean muscles (and maybe a little serenity along the way). Shakti offers a range of classes, so whether you can touch your toes with ease or you haven’t stretched since high school, there’s a class for you. And at $17 a class (with discounts for five- and ten-class packages and monthly unlimited passes), you’re doing a service to your body, your mind and your wallet. Bonus: Shakti is also home to the Mayanjali Café, so you can feel extra virtuous when you grab an Enlightened Bowl (roasted carrots, sweet potato, beets and curry powder) after that strenuous Vinyasa Flow.
Does the thought of chanting “om” in a room full of ultra-flexible ladies clad in head-to-toe Lululemon make you want to eat a double cheeseburger? Then you might want to check out Broga (1026 Truman Ave.), a program that combines yoga poses with strength-based bodyweight exercises. Broga = bro + yoga, so dudes will definitely feel comfortable in these classes; no chanting allowed. Instructor Sean Guinan fills 60-minute Broga classes with a strength-building yoga flow interspersed with pushups, lunges and squats. Expect to sweat — a lot. A one-month pass runs a mere $100, which covers Broga classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday and TRX classes on Tuesday and Thursday. Expect to work hard in an environment that welcomes all levels of fitness.
If you prefer to train when no one else is looking, consider one of Key West’s hardworking personal trainers. Raquel Robbins is a boot camp badass who offers grueling personal training sessions tailored to each of her client’s individual strengths and goals at Old Town Fitness (1010 Truman Ave.). For the new year, she is running a $30 InBody testing special, which provides a detailed breakdown of your weight in terms of muscle, fat and water. Utilizing that data, Raquel can then create a training program for your specific body composition. It may not be the most glamorous facility, but Old Town Fitness’ old-school charm has made it a legend (one half expects Rocky Balboa to appear from behind the weight rack). The no frills, no air conditioning space is popular with those whose exercise routines lean more toward bench presses than ballet-based barre classes. Old Town Fitness devotees love the punishing but transformative personal training sessions with trainers like Raquel and Kelly Mack, which, mercifully capped at 30 minutes, include the kinds of exercise most often seen in Gatorade commercials — think giant ropes flung up and down, kettlebells, dead lifts and aerobics performed in front of a chain link fence. The gym is spacious and the décor unmistakably badass, complete with concrete floors, old iron weights, flags hanging from the ceiling and the watchful eyes of Arnold staring down at you from a poster on the wall, daring you to commit to just one more set. And the gym’s trainers and clientele ensure it remains at all times unpretentious and unmistakably down to earth — so no selfies in the mirror, please. Their rates for personal training and memberships of all lengths are notorious for being the lowest in town, which tends to attract those willing to sacrifice comforts like fancy steam rooms and marble showers for a good old fashioned sweat session; reviews on Yelp praise the “No B.S. vibe, no meatheads.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Out in New Town and in a less gritty setting, certified personal trainers and frequent triathletes Liz Love and Amy Bradshaw are available for one-on-one sessions when they’re not leading one of the over 15 different types of classes offered at BodyZone Fitness (2740 N. Roosevelt Blvd.), including spinning, Zumba, boxing and Pilates. BodyZone’s mix of class instructors are uniquely motivating and the gym offers day passes as well as monthly and yearly memberships. Body- Zone is also home to Acey’s Bootcamp, which combines 30 minutes of strength training with 30 minutes of Tabata cardio from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. every Monday through Friday. Interested exercisers can join at any point on the hour or the half hour as their schedules permit. BodyZone is also running membership specials of all levels in the new year.
If private sessions aren’t on your agenda, the Key West 24 Hour Fitness Center on Caroline Street makes for an efficient choice. Outfitted with all the latest in high tech fitness — there’s a dedicated studio space where one can choose from thousands of on-demand virtual fitness routines, which are then projected onto an enormous screen, movie theater-style — and his and hers steam rooms, 24 Hour Fitness has developed a dedicated fan base. Group classes in spin, barre, aerobics, Dance Fit and something called BodyBurn (which sounds like you’re going to need those steam rooms after) run throughout the day, while a pristine gym area remains stocked with all the traditional machine and weight-based options one might desire. Key West 24 Hour Fitness Center offers a variety of membership options, including day passes for as low as $20 — it ain’t cheap, but then again, neither is a triple bypass. And this January, they’re offering 31 percent off a one-month pass, so why not check it out?
Hurting a little after all of that physical activity? Both Amy Bradshaw, who specializes in functional fitness and injury recovery massage, and Robin Falkner, who completed advanced training in CORE Myofascial Therapy and Sports Bodywork, can help you recover effectively after Key West’s trainers and classes make you aware of muscles you’re pretty sure didn’t exist. Amy runs selfcare workshops at BodyZone, including one this Thursday, Jan. 16, at 5:15 p.m., where participants use a lacrosse ball to manipulate muscles to relax and release. For the month of January, Robin is offering 15 percent off all 60-minute therapeutic massages and Structural Integration packages. Geared more toward rehabilitation than relaxation, Structural Integration encourages better joint alignment, improves flexibility and range of movement and reduces recovery time, pain and inflammation. For more information, visit Robin’s website at www.refbodywork.com.
It’s hard enough getting motivated to get off the couch and head to the gym, but anyone who’s ever embarked on a flabto fit regimen knows that just exercising isn’t enough; no amount of downward dogs can make up for having a kitchen filled with unhealthy food options. But for those of us who work long hours, the idea of having to cut up a crate’s worth of vegetables at the end of a long day is about as appetizing as an unsweetened protein shake. We know takeout isn’t great for us, but when it’s 7:30 in the evening and you have 15 minutes to get a meal on the table, phoning in an order to Kennedy Café seems a lot more doable than embarking on some time-consuming, Gwyneth Paltrow-approved spread requiring three types of microgreens and a Himalayan salt block. Thankfully, there is Date & Thyme, a grab-and-go micromarket dedicated to making takeout seem like a pious choice. At the corner of Fleming Street and Margaret Street, the cooler and freezer at chef and owner Charlie Wilson’s healthy hotspot is always overflowing with a variety of single-serving, all-natural meals and side dishes to please any palate, all helpfully labeled so you know which comply with various dietary specializations. Gluten-free vegan? No problem. Trying out the popular keto diet but also vegetarian? They’ve got you covered. With a menu of diverse juices, smoothies, meals and snacks that changes weekly, Wilson knows her audience requires food that passes the takeout test of fast, tasty and varied — and luckily for locals, each new dish passes with flying colors. She won’t drag you to the gym, but as far as sticking to a New Year’s resolution to get healthy goes, Wilson has got your breakfast, lunch, dinner and juice cleanse covered.
No matter what your method, we wish you the best of luck on your fitness journey, friends. May 2019 be your fittest, healthiest year ever. ¦