Fit for nature: South Bethany offers yoga and boot camp on the beach


Coastal Point • Submitted: Boot Camp participants do some stretching on the beach in South Bethany.Coastal Point • Submitted: Boot Camp participants do some stretching on the beach in South Bethany.Air conditioning is nice when it’s hot. But in the early morning, people can get out on the beach for weekly fitness classes as the sun rises over South Bethany.

Hosted by the Town of South Bethany, the yoga classes have attracted scores of people for the past year, and the brand new boot camp is already getting people excited.

Participants say it’s a great way to start the day. After class, the ocean is particularly inviting to anyone who’s worked up a sweat. Some people dive right in, while others enjoy the peaceful walk back home or to their cars (parking permits aren’t required before 10 a.m.).

“Friday, it was very warm,” said boot camp instructor Kim Royster. “A good amount of people dove into the water when class was done. It was very refreshing.”

Both classes are designed for any fitness level, from light walkers to experienced yogis or athletes. For both classes, people should bring water, a full-sized towel and a donation for the instructors.

Yoga on the beach

Yoga is held on Wednesdays from 8 to 8:45 a.m. at South 4th Street, continuing until Aug. 31.

“Yoga is … getting back to basics of the nature and the ocean and the sand, not having the forced air” of a gym or hot yoga studio, said student Linda Raiford, who encouraged Tikiri Shapiro to start the course. “There, it’s your natural environment, what you’re used to.”

“We’ve lucked out and had the sun coming up every morning … with the fresh breezes,” said student Ann Caputo, who hasn’t missed a class. “I’ve never done yoga outside like this. It’s doing yoga out on the warm sand with a towel, which is also nice.”

People can practice different postures and breathing techniques. There are men and women of all ages.

“There was a lady beside me last time that was 85 years old. And there’s a lot of teenagers as well,” said Raiford, who’s in her 60s but has brought three young granddaughters to the class. “Anybody can do it. You don’t have to have the experience.”

“Everyone’s welcome. It’s mixed-level. It’s for a beginner … or experienced people who want to refine their postures,” said Shapiro, owner of Lighthouse Dance & Yoga east of Selbyville. “There’s such a big group now,” she said — sometimes 70 at a time — “that it’s cool to see the options that people bring in.”

She said she often sees students watching their fellow classmates, then trying a new variation, based on their neighbor’s posture.

“It’s been a nice way to spend Wednesday morning … and I look forward to it every week,” said Caputo, 79, who has done yoga for about five years. “It’s just a fun, relaxing thing to do, and a lot of people are interested in it. It makes your body feel good, all that stretching.”

Week after week, Shapiro sees their skills grow. And the class flows with movement, not just a handful of postures.

“It’s different from a studio environment. … You have the rolling waves. You see wildlife. Sometimes you see dolphins while you’re doing dolphin pose! It’s very relaxing,” Shapiro said.

Two special moonlight yoga classes were planned for this summer, the second of which is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 18, from 8:30 until moonrise, at 9:15 p.m.

Details about yoga are available by calling (302) 564-7611, or visiting www.lighthousedanceandyoga.yolasite.com or the “Lighthouse Dance & Yoga” Facebook page.

Boot camp on the beach

Boot camp just started on Independence Day, hosted on Mondays and Fridays from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. on the beach at North 6th Street, until Sept. 15.

It’s led by The Fitness Craze, the husband-wife team of Mel and Kim Royster, who just moved to South Bethany this spring. They’ve been fitness trainers since 1990 and are using that to meet their new neighbors.

“We just thought we would like to do something outside, keep people active, and we thought what better way than on the beach?” said Royster.

Regularly working in Ocean City, Md., the couple now brings cardio, strength and core training to South Bethany.

Exercises might include running drills, push-ups, sit-ups, hurdles, stretching and partner work, so there’s some interaction with other classmates.

“I always give many options, so everybody feels welcome,” said Royster. For instance, triceps exercises can be modified to any level: with a medicine ball, standing, kneeling or — for someone with a bad wrist — on their back.

“No matter what fitness level they are, they’re welcome. They’re going to go at their own pace,” said Royster, who encourages people to have “a good attitude, be willing to try something new. We push them, but we also let ’em take as many breaks as they need.”

The beach is a natural gym for the Roysters. Sand definitely affects the workout. In fact, “It’s a lot harder. You have to push in [for better balance]. Your intensity is much higher. So you’re going to burn more calories,” Royster constantly reminds her students.

The ocean helps with running drills, as students are instructed to sprint toward the water and “tap the waves,” always providing a laugh as people splash around.

“It’s been very good so far. They are really excited,” Royster said. “We’ve had really good comments, even asking if we’ll open a gym here. We told ’em right now we’re going to do everything outside.”

People should wear tennis shoes during the warm-ups before deciding if they want to complete the session barefoot or not, they advised.

For more information, call (410) 533-0068 or visit www.TheFitnessCraze.com, where credit card payments are also accepted. Inclement weather updates will be posted on “The Fitness Craze” Facebook page.