This week, winter takes its final stand—arming clouds with the last of its sleet and snow for a desperate assault on several states, before retreating until November. Next week, spring break! Throughout March, hundreds of thousands of young people will trade in their mittens for Daisy Dukes and migrate toward Miami Beach, South Padre, Cancun, and other sunny locales. Many will have spent months at the gym, perfecting their beach bodies, only to spend a week in the sun, laying around and maybe even drinking.
Those who want to sneak in some exercise between visits to the melting ice luge should try these spring break-friendly workouts:
For spring break warriors: Have you seen photos of Shaun Blokker (better known as Shaun T), creator of the Insanity workout? If you want to look one-tenth as ripped as him in your bathing suit, take his spring break advice: "I'd go to the beach in the mornings and do plank walks or crab walks in the sand." These exercises engage your core, so your tummy will feel tight and primed for boogie boards, Slip 'n Slides, and belly flops.
Want more? Another beach-inspired workout comes from Angeles Burke, a group fitness instructor with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. Stand with your feet wide apart, and then drop it low so your behind is parallel to the ground. Hold that position, with your weight in your heels, as you take 12 steps forward and 12 steps back.
For hotel hermits: If you don't feel comfortable channeling your inner Richard Simmons in front of your peers on the beach, make a habit of doing a few simple exercises each day in your hotel room. "Body-weight squats and lunges, pushups, and tricep dips using a chair or the side of the bath tub—those are the four biggest bangs for your buck," says Dixie Stanforth, a fitness expert and lecturer in the University of Texas—Austin's kinesiology and health education department. "You get lots of large muscles in different parts of your body," she says, suggesting 15 to 20 reps of each daily.
For beach bums: We get it—you're on vacation. You want to work a sweat as you tan in the sweltering sun, not as you Hulk out. But we ask you this: Do you enjoy long walks on the beach? "Focus on walking as much as you can," says Stanforth. Not only are you getting some exercise, but she points out that you're also out seeing people and being seen—and isn't that what a lot of spring break is about? "Even if you're a little dehydrated, whether from sun or alcohol, walking wouldn't be as challenging as if you did something more strenuous," she says.
A reminder for the beach-ignorant: Walk through the sand in your bare feet. Without shoes, your feet and lower body have to work a little harder, making for a nice toning effect, Stanforth says. And a reminder for the safety-averse: Walking home is the much better—not to mention legal—alternative to driving drunk.
For everyone: No matter what fitness level you commit to over spring break, you'll likely agree on a couple priorities: fun and safety. Dawn the aviators and start a game of beach volleyball—Top Gun-style. Throw a Frisbee; go surfing; do something. You'll have fun with your buddies without even realizing the calories you're burning. And because it can't be repeated enough: Be careful. Drink in moderation (if you drink at all); wear sunscreen; and look out for each other.