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As temperatures heat up, the smell of wet towels, sweat and chlorine can make the gym a place to avoid. Why battle for an elliptical trainer in a crowded and stuffy room when you can work off calories outdoors and gain the same health dividends?

Organized exercise outside programs continue to gain steam as people use local parks to serve as their outdoor gyms for cardio workouts, strength training, stretching and yoga. In addition to casual meet-up groups and outdoor boot camp programs, YMCA instructors are leading a series of summer classes in partnership with Sonoma County Regional Parks.

Here’s a sample of the opportunities to come.


Fit4Mom Stroller Strides: Mothers with babies and toddlers can exercise without the added burden and expense of finding a babysitter with a series of fitness classes that incorporate kids. Strollers become a part of the workout in the Fit4Mom Stroller Strides classes led by Jackie Hall and Sequoia Wright-Medina.

“We’re actively engaging the babies while we’re exercising. They win and we win at the same time. We sing songs and do ABCs and count in Spanish,” said Hall, 32, who started taking the classes herself as a way to get out when her own daughter, Mallory, now 3 1/2, was 18 months old.

Hall said she didn’t feel comfortable leaving her baby in childcare rooms at health clubs.

In the classes, moms power walk with their babies in strollers, stopping periodically for strength training exercises.

“Being outside is a huge benefit,” said Hall, whose second baby is due any day. “Kids get to see the trees and hear the birds, and they’re in the sun getting Vitamin D and fresh air and being with their moms. If it’s raining, we have a contract with Coddingtown and hold classes there.”

Classes meet daily except Sundays at either Howarth or Galvin parks in Santa Rosa. Cost is $59 monthly for unlimited classes or $125 for a series of 10. 659-6262 or sesantarosa.fit4mom.com.

Stroller-friendly Walking: Coach Angela Reed leads an invigorating walk followed by a cool-down with stretching exercises. Children in strollers are welcome. Fridays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Aug. 28 to Oct. 2 at Ragle Ranch Regional Park, 550 Ragle Road, Sebastopol. parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.


TRX Training: The portable TRX Suspension trainer developed for Navy SEALs is at the heart of this total body workout focused on creating a solid core and muscular endurance. The device leverages gravity and body weight for hundreds of different exercises. Classes meet 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Mondays, July 6 to Aug. 10 at Spring Lake Regional Park, Santa Rosa. parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.

Insanity: Condition your body with effective but tolerable three- to five-minute spurts of high-intensity exercises 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Thursdays, July 9 to Aug. 13. Maddux Ranch Regional Park, 4655 Lavell Road, Santa Rosa. parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.


Trail Running: To your current running workout, add interval training, hill running, tempo runs and stretching to build endurance and strength in classes that meet 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesdays, June 9 to July 21, at Spring Lake Regional Park, Newanga Avenue entrance. parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.

Hiking for Fitness: Learn how to get the most from your hike with this six-session series at Jack London State Historic Park. It starts with a hiking basics talk led by REI and culminates with a hike to the summit of Sonoma Mountain. Classes meet 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturdays June 6 to July 18 (except July 4) and cost $15 per class (includes parking) or $75 for the whole series. 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. 938-5216 or JackLondonPark.com.


PiYo Strength: This class combines Pilates and yoga moves with fast choreography to increase strength, balance and flexibility. 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. July 9 to Aug. 13. Ragle Ranch Regional Park, 550 Ragle Road, Sebastopol. parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.

Morning Yoga: Maggie Brickner leads a mind-body class on the beach in Forestville. The workout focuses on relieving muscle tension, increasing range of motion, promoting circulation, gaining strength and preventing injury. Bring your own mat to classes that meet 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Sundays July 26 to Aug. 30 at Forestville River Access (aka Mom’s Beach), 10584 River Drive, Forestville. This beach is a rocky shore ringed by redwoods. parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.

Yoga Outside at Sugarloaf: Susan Topf of Build Your Peace Yoga leads yoga hikes and outdoor yoga classes in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Hikes cover about two miles and take about 2 1/2 hours, including stops in places with spectacular views to do yoga poses. The course is adapted to different skill levels and starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturdays June 13, July 11 and Aug. 8. Cost is $20 plus parking. Or unwind after the work week with outdoor yoga classes from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every Friday between June 19 and July 17 (except July 3), coinciding with the park’s Funky Fridays live music nights. Cost is $15, which includes parking. 2605 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood. 636-4436 or e-mail susan@buildyourpeace.com.

You can reach Staff Writer Meg McConahey at meg.mcconahey@pressdemocrat.com or 521-5204. On Twitter @megmcconahey.