By Kristy Barry
Despite a wicked winter, the baseball season just flared up, birds are making a comeback, and the sun is beginning to actually heat the Earth instead of just shining down like one big lamp–illuminating grimacing faces, snow plows, and slushy crosswalk puddles. As tulip bulbs come out of hiding, so should you, to regain your strength, stamina, sporting skills, and more importantly, zest for life. April is a month you’re not likely to spend on a beach, so get out and turbo-charge yourself for summer.
Photo courtesy of Mark Heard.
1) Batting Cages and Golfing Driving Ranges
There are fantastic batting cages and driving ranges on Randall’s Island and Chelsea Piers. Chelsea Piers is located on the Hudson River, near 20th Street, with great views of the water and New Jersey. It’s like an urban country club of sorts, on the pricy side, but a nice alternative to renting a car and hitting a golf course outside the city. Randall’s Island is spacious, cheaper, and even has a little cafe between the driving range and the batting cages where you can grab a coffee or a beer, and snacks, for breaks in between busting balls. City buses drive out to Randall’s Island–so for the cost of a MetroCard swipe, you can easily escape the city and let off steam with buckets (or several rounds) of balls. There are also batting cages in Brooklyn as well as beneath the Apple Bank on the Upper West Side.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Vandel.
2) Run the City
Who knows what trouble the summer will entail and you should always be in good shape to run from the cops. You don’t want to pull a hammy fleeing the police. You could fall, bust up your face, or get tasered. Perhaps instead you need to catch that boat departure or streak across the baseball field at Yankees Stadium. One loop around the Central Park running path is about six miles and is such a picturesque course to run while dodging tourists, racing bicyclists, and spotting celebrities like Troy Aikman and Cameron Diaz. You can run the stairs of Belvedere’s Castle, dart around the reservoir, and pass out in the grass for a post-workout stretch. When you tire out, you can stop to see street-circus antics, watch softball games, grab a SpongeBob popsicle, or amble around the Central Park Zoo. Central Park reminds me of why New York City is a glorious place to live and play.
Photo courtesy of Weekly Dig.
3) Bikram Yoga
Sweat out that comfort food of winter–the heaps of mac and cheese, the juicy burgers, and the whiskey from cold nights trudging home in the snow. Stretch your stiff muscles and prepare for long walks on the beach, mountain-hiking in Vermont and biking to work again. If you can’t stand being sandwiched into a small room with strangers dripping sweat off their spandex-ed bodies, opt for regular yoga and enjoy the limber ladies, the flexible men, and a rocking body able to get tangled up in all sorts of summer mischief.
Photo courtesy of emarschn.
4) Volleyball and Tennis Courts
Central Park recently rebuilt two sand volleyball courts behind Sheep’s Meadow. Show up with a partner and play doubles every day, from sunrise to sunset. During peak hours, I suggest hitting up the volleyball courts in Riverside Park at 105th Street. Tennis in Central Park is located near 96th Street–and can be pricy without a season permit ($200) or $15 per player, per hour. The best time to play tennis is mid-day, mid-week where you can play longer than an hour if the court isn’t reserved. Tennis courts are also located along the West Side Highway but are hard to secure–as are courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Bring your soft-soled shoes for tennis or the enforcers will turn you away.
Photo courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski.
If you’re tired of lifting dumbbells and staring at the floor doing push-ups, the swings at 105th Street and Riverside Park are a fun and challenging way to build upper body strength. Rows of round metal swings are high in the air and below the rings is a sand pit to catch your fall.
Photo courtesy of Ingrid Taylar.
6) Run the Stairs at the Columbia University Football Stadium
Ditch the StairMaster, channel your inner Rocky, and feel like you’re in college again (if that motivates you) by running the stairs. You get a real sense of accomplishment dashing up stairs in the hot sun and not mindlessly climbing a machine while watching CNN and worrying about when the Malaysian airliner will be discovered. Just do it outside instead.
Photo courtesy of japp1967.
The best way to explore each borough, is by bike–where you can veer down unfamiliar streets, ignoring one-way street signs and (cautiously) cruising through red lights. You don’t wait for subways, you don’t get lethargic for long, and you cover a lot of ground. One of the coolest days I’ve spent with my sister, Katie, in New York was a bike tour of Astoria where we shared small plates and drinks at various spots around Queens. We asked people around us for suggestions for our next stop and discovered funky gift shops and bars like Sweet Afton with delicious micheladas. We biked home over the Queensboro Bridge with stunning city views–both of us exhausted but proud of the 20 mile jaunt and entertained, with a reason to rave about Queens.
Photo courtesy of Massimo Peruffo.
8) Romp Like Monkeys
Forgetting you’re exercising is the best way of exercising. Engage in spring cleaning–dust off your winter bleariness, get a haircut, and awaken your carnal animal. Research new and exciting ways to toss your partner around and break a sweat that leaves you glowing and happily aching all day.
For more, check out Kristy in conversation on BTR Sports, every Sunday on BreakThru Radio.