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The clock on the wall might appear to be ticking slower. Your legs are heavy, and now the treadmill is dragging you more than anything else. Even sliding back and forth on the elliptical feels like a fruitless practice. And the dumbbells, medicine balls and other weights you conquered last week? Now they feel heavier, and your arms are telling you, “No. Not today.”

These are the tell-tale signs of gym fatigue. Your fitness regimen has officially become a drag, and you definitely need a break, at least for one day. But don’t spend your off-day bemoaning the fact that you aren’t in the gym or sitting around in yoga pants, toying with idea of trudging back in for more pain. For those who need their exercise, an “off-day” in Central Ohio can quickly become a fun, rejuvenating day of fitness if you know where to look for activities. Watersports, boating, fishing, nature hikes, even water-propelled flight – there’s plenty to do to get away from the gray walls of your gym and still get a sneaky-good workout.

Bret Chumley, owner of Columbus Kayak at 4282 N. High St., sells specialty items for camping, kayaking and kayak-fishing (almost half the store is dedicated to kayak-fishing, Chumley says). Chumley is offering top-of-the-line gear for these activities while also still trying to spread the good word. Yes, they do exist in the Columbus area and you can absolutely use these and other activities as alternatives to your daily fitness grind.

“The fitness is great because it’s totally up to you,” Chumley said of stepping away from the traditional weight room and into a kayak. “You can go as hard as you want.”

As far as kayaking goes, Chumley is a self-described novice but still knows the hot spots where you can hit the water, such as Alum Creek Lake, Hoover Reservoir, spots in the Olentangy and Scioto Rivers, Big Darby Creek and Big Walnut Creek flowing off Hoover Reservoir, among others. With Chumley’s help, you’ll be outfitted properly and ready to enjoy your off-day with safety and confidence.

Whether it be kayaking, fishing, hiking or getting blasted up into the air by a water-fueled jet pack, the size, price and seemingly long list of equipment can be a deterrent for many. But Chumley says that shouldn’t keep you away from new experiences.

“A good way around being overwhelmed by all the stuff is to do a pre-trip checklist, whether you’re going kayaking for two hours or camping for a week,” Chumley said. “Going out in a kayak for a couple hours, you hardly need anything, which is kind of the beauty of it. Money-wise, renting is an excellent suggestion.”

He suggested that if you are interested in purchasing a kayak, pay attention to the ideal height and weight recommendations for each model, and considers its ideal usage, i.e. whitewater versus a calm stream.

Once your checklist is made, your gear purchased and your outing booked, you’re ready to hit the outdoors for some serious fun, and maybe training, too.

A day on the water can help change your perspective, and in this case, may also reset your exercise mindset. Wakeopolis, a private cable-wakeboarding club in Marysville, Ohio, offers Central Ohioans the chance to sample an electric-operated wakeboarding park – guests are dragged along by an electric pulley that rides along overhead cables – and Caribbean-blue waters.

Wakeopolis’ Tyler Dunham offers a standing invitation for everyone in the area to come check out the facilities, housed in a manmade lake originally built by the Army Corps of Engineers, that will soon feature new fitness-oriented offerings. The experience is relaxing and fun for customers, Dunham said, and all the while you’ll be enjoying an exercise that no gym in Ohio can offer.

“Fitness, for me anyway, has always been about keeping things exciting and changing it up and doing things in new environments,” Dunham said. “That’s how I stay motivated. I think it’s the same story for a lot of people.”

Dunham has exciting new fitness offerings for Wakeopolis’ third summer in operation, including “on-the-water” boot camps, stand-up paddleboarding and paddleboard yoga, which is exactly what it sounds like.

“You hop on a paddleboard and paddle out to your nice, serene little protected spot and do your yoga out there,” Dunham said. “This year, we have a whole fleet of paddleboards that are available in Columbus called Project 908 … I’m working with them to have all their instructional paddleboarding classes on our lake.”

After membership dues of $5 for an individual and $25 for a family, people can purchase swim passes for $8 daily or $80 for the season and use them for triathlon training – a customer-based Dunham hadn’t even considered when Wakeopolis was just getting off the ground.

Dunham’s excitement around Wakeopolis new offerings is justified, but his true passion seems to be in the company’s original purpose — cable-wakeboarding. His hope is that new customers will come in search of innovative classes like the paddleboard yoga and stay for a couple loops on the cable park.

Wakeopolis offers lessons to get you standing up and riding properly, as well as more advanced lessons for thrill-seekers looking to tackle the rail and ramp installations situated about the lake. And get your arms, core and legs ready for a true test because, while midday rides on slow days can last as long as 15 minutes, even experienced riders show signs of fatigue after seven or eight minutes. Should you take a spill in the water, the cable operator can stop the pulley until you’re back on your feet, and then the ride begins again.

Don’t be fooled – the fun you’re having on the wakeboard doesn’t lessen the workout.

“Cable-wakeboarding is a pretty demanding sport on your whole body,” Dunham said. “There’s very little down time. Even when you fall, you get picked right back up. All of the quick turnaround[s] are pretty hard on your arms and back, not to mention the core and leg work you’re doing when you’re on the water.”

Perhaps cable-wakeboarding and the combination of yoga and a fresh water lake aren’t for you. Jeremy Primmer of Jet Pack Adventures might be able to pique your curiosity with the promise that he can teach you how to fly like your favorite superhero.

Wearing a backpack with 420 pounds of thrust generated by a 200-horsepower marine engine shooting 1,000 gallons of water per minute, guests of Primmer’s Hocking Hills business soar as high as 28 feet above the water.

“It’s an absolute rush. You have that sensation of flying,” Primmer said. “As a first-time customer, you’re going to learn how to steer and how to move up and down. The hardest thing for people to grasp is that the backpack always wants to fly straight, so it takes me a while to get them relaxed and realize nothing is going to happen too fast … and all of the sudden they’re saying, ‘OK, I get this. I’m flying with no hands.’”

Jet Pack Adventures is also offering Flyboard equipment to its customers for the first time this summer. Instead of water blasting downward from a backpack to create lift, patrons are strapped into an apparatus similar to a snowboard and water shoots out from beneath it. You control the Flyboard in much the same way you would a snowboard, too.

Whether you choose to don the jet pack or the Flyboard, you’ll soon realize that your body is putting in considerable work to keep you airborne and afloat because all riders (18-plus only) have to know how to swim.

“I personally went and got trained on [the Flyboards] in Florida, and it is a lot more strenuous than the backpack only because of balance,” Primmer said. “It’s a lot like snowboarding because you’re using your heels. You’re leaning forward [and] you’re leaning backward to control it. Even with the backpack, you have to swim out wearing it, and it’s a 28-pound device. That’s some extra activity, for certain.”

Jim Stratton of Hocking Hills Adventure Trek is an agreeable man who has very few qualms with those who share his love for the outdoors. But there are exceptions – fishermen who attempt to take the skill out of the sport and simply overwhelm the bass with the latest in modern technology will find themselves out of luck if they want to go after some the biggest bass and the best fishing available not just in Ohio, but in the entire country.

“You get the guy with his $100,000 worth of boat, motor and four-wheel-drive truck and a $1,500-a-month payment on all of that combined, and you try to tell him that the biggest bass in [Ohio] are where he can’t use any of that stuff,” Stratton said with a laugh. “That guy isn’t going to show up. He’s going to keep fishing for four-pound bass somewhere else while we have eight-pounders.”

Fishing is just one activity that allows Stratton to share his love of the outdoors with others, exposing them to nature at its undisturbed best in some of the finest protected lands around. Hocking Hills Adventure Trek, which Stratton owns, specializes in bass fishing trips, naturalist-led group hikes, rock climbing and rappelling, not to mention the potential for recuperation of the body and mind.

In the climbing world, rappelling is the means of descent after a hike up a mountain. In the world of outdoor recreation, it’s a separate activity, and Hocking Hills Adventure Trek offers rappelling experiences as well as outdoor rock climbing for novice and experienced enthusiasts alike.

Stratton said the public mostly associates cave and waterfall attractions with the Hocking Hills, but his outfit avoids the state park areas and leads visitors to the hidden gems spread across the Hocking State Forest’s 10,000 acres and surrounding nature preserves.

About an hour north of the Hocking Hills, (90 minutes southeast of Columbus), the company leads guided belly boat fishing treks on the AEP ReCreation lands. “There are several large sections of AEP ReCreation Land in eastern Ohio” said Stratton, with the largest section being about 60,000 acres located southeast of Zanesville. This area holds more than 300 ponds and lakes. It’s public access land managed by AEP and the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Vast and remote for Ohio, this fishing is phenomenal.

Hocking Hills Adventure Trek’s many offerings are likely to turn heads once patrons arrive to share in the beauty of natural Ohio. Whether it’s a small group of novice rock climbers or a family being led on a guided hike, Stratton is getting people out of their gyms and into new physical and cultural adventures. •

 

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