Keep Fit: A Beach Workout Is the Best Workout

Keep Fit Minardi Training Kelly goin' for it in East Hampton!
Kelly goin' for it in East Hampton! Photo: Courtesy Minardi Training

I always try to spend my mornings at the beach. Though I prefer biking there to driving there, I made an exception to trek the to East Hampton’s Main Beach for an early morning workout with Minardi Training.

Arriving a few minutes early, I didn’t initially notice Coach Jimmy setting up an obstacle course a few hundred yards east, by the Main Beach jetty. Though originally concerned that I arrived at the wrong time, a glance at the ocean quickly calmed me down. Staring at the waves is intoxicating. And then, as if on cue, a pod of dolphins graced the horizon, breaching every few seconds as they traveled west.

Content to drink my coffee and stare at the expanse, I quickly reminded myself that I had come here to sweat. So I scanned the beach again, this time noticing the activity near the jetty. Throwing caution to the wind, I parked my Southampton car in the most inconspicuous East Hampton resident-only spot I could find, choosing to ignore how easily a yellow bug could be spotted in the empty parking lot. Southampton residents take note: Don’t try to come to the 9:30 a.m. class. But it’s worth taking the risk to participate in the 8 a.m.

Turning back to the beach, I soon realized that the walk to the workout was intimidating in itself. Then Coach Jimmy’s obstacle course came into view. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I considered walking back and spending my morning with the dolphins.

But I was spotted. Within seconds, I was outfitted with a heart-rate monitor and watch and was leading a group of about a dozen athletes around flags and over hurdles.

Formerly a professional cyclist, Jimmy was raised on the East End. He started Minardi Training in 1998. “Minardi Training is basically a potpourri of all the experiences I’ve had with various athletic coaches over the years,” he says. “Moreover, as a young athlete [my dad] used to set up courses up for me using sticks and tennis balls on the beach, and he assured me that would make me a stronger and more agile athlete, so it’s something that I’ve always carried with me, because it works.” Minardi does his hour-long beach workout five days a week. (He also coaches cycling and yoga.) The beach workout involves running around an obstacle course with a number of plastic hurdles, log hurdles, rings and flags. The purpose of the workout is to get your heart rate up, and Coach Jimmy checks everyone’s watch as they complete the round.

How does heart-rate training enable participants to get a better workout? “It connects you to your body and it helps you keep focused,” says Coach Jimmy. “[It] also measures exertion rate, so you know when you’re underdoing it or overdoing. This way you get greater value for your training time.”

According to the American Heart Association, the average max heart rate is about 220 beats per minute, minus your age. So, at 25 years old, my max heart rate is about 195 beats per minute. This is important to know, because training in your target heart rate zone means exerting between 50–85 percent of your max. I haven’t done a ton of heart-rate training, so it was interesting to put a concrete number on my efforts. I very quickly realized that I’m not in as good of shape as I thought I was. Two laps around the obstacle course and I was within spitting range of my max. Luckily, the workout offers ample opportunity to take a breather by adding a strengthening aspect. We frequently paused to do pushups, sit-ups and stretches. For my efforts, I was rewarded with a cool down in the ocean. The dolphins were gone, but I was happy to float. Truly, there is no better way to spend a morning than sweating at the beach.

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