Starting a new year of fitness fun

Before the clock struck midnight Dec. 31, I spent some quiet time in meditation and reflection, trying to select a worthy resolution for the new year. After carefully considering all my options, I settled upon a resolution: I want to have more fun this year by being active and healthy. Although I will be delicately balancing work, school and various extracurricular responsibilities, I know it would be very beneficial to my mental and physical health to get outside more, breathe fresh air and enjoy some of the varied opportunities for adventure in the Tampa Bay area. I’m sure many students are committing to other healthy resolutions, vowing to exercise and be active, and I figured they could use some help. So, without further ado, I present the Unofficial 2005 Guide to Fitness and Adventure.


The Bay Area is great for paddling, and paddling is awesome for toning the upper body, building both strength and endurance. Just toss a kayak or canoe in any quiet body of water and go. If you don’t have a boat, any one of the following places will hook you up:

Almost Heaven Kayak Adventures, (941) 504-6296, runs out of Bradenton, FL and also offers eco-trips.

Canoe Escape, (813) 986-2067. This is one of the more famous canoe-rental shops, plus it’s right by USF on Fowler

If you’d like to brush up on your paddling skills, sign up for a paddling trip or even buy your own boat, check out Bill Jackson’s Adventure shop. While you’re there, pick up supplies for your other outdoor adventures. It’s easily the most comprehensive outdoor adventure megastore in the area.

Don’t forget to check out USF’s outdoor recreation Web site. Not only can you rent canoes and kayaks for a spin around the Hillsborough River, but you can also sign up for several kayaking and adventure trips throughout the year. Head to the office in REC 006 or visit


OK, there aren’t that many cliffs in Tampa. But our beautiful Bay Area is home to one of the best indoor walls in the Southeast, Vertical Ventures. Here, you can take classes, sign up for trips or just hang out and climb the big walls. At Vertical Ventures., students get 15 percent off every day and Wednesday night is Ladies’ Night with 50 percent off. Visit the Web site at


Don’t laugh, but if you want something to do on a Friday night that will tone your tush (along with your abs, hamstrings and quads) and entertain you and your friends, head to the local roller skating rink. As long as you can stand the top-40 music and the teenyboppers, you’ll get a great workout. Ice skating, while not as retro-cool as the roller rinks, also offers a great opportunity to get a good workout as you socialize. All rinks offer skate rentals if you don’t have your own.

Town ‘N Country Skateworld can be reached at (813) 884-7688. Another option is United Skates of America, (813) 876-5826 or

For ice skating, try the Tampa Bay Skating Academy off of Forest Lakes Blvd in Oldsmar (813) 845-401.


Similar to skating, laser tag can be a great workout and a fun way to spend an evening. If you actually engage in some infantry tactics rather than playing sniper, you could burn upwards of 500 calories per hour by playing. Likewise, many arcade games such as Dance-Dance Revolution could get you in shape while you have fun.

For laser tag, check out Q-zar at 7807 N. Dale Mabry, which also has an arcade with Dance-Dance Revolution. Call (813) 933-6995 or visit for more information.


Since this is Florida, I could fill a book on the various sports that can be performed in or around water. From water skiing to scuba diving, we have it all. If you go out to the West Coast of the state, you can even do some surfing or kiteboarding, a relatively new sport in which participants standing on surfboards navigate the waves by holding a kite.

Check out scuba diving classes at USF. At $130 per four-week lesson block, it’s the best deal in town. .

Wakeboarding is just one of the many activities in which you get to be towed over water behind a boat. To perfect your wakeboarding skills, head to The Wakeboard Camp in Clermont, FL. If you have a little bit of spending money, this would make a fun spring break trip. .


In case you’re in search of a real adventure, Florida is a great place to skydive or hang-glide. Hang-gliding will tone up your chest, back and arms, and skydiving is a proven way to cure a fear of heights.

Only 22 miles from the USF Tampa Campus is Skydive City, where you can participate in any activity that involves jumping out of an aircraft. You can either tandem jump or train for a solo jump. .

Since there are no cliffs in Florida, local hang-gliders are pulled to altitude by an ultralight aircraft and then released once the glider reaches about 1000 feet. To try this relatively inexpensive sport call Quest Air Soaring Center in Central Florida at (352) 429-0213 or check out .

I hope the fitness guide will help all of you who have resolved to be healthy and active in the new year. Special features about some of these sports and activities will be coming up this semester.