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5 Delaware Fitness Pros Share Their Favorite Ways to Exercise Outdoors


Alyson Leinbach 

Owner and yogi, Serenity Yoga Studio

Practicing yoga outside—literally touching your toes to the earth and saluting the sun—changes the meaning of it. When you feel the grass under your feet and the sun and breeze on your face, there’s more of a connection with your environment. I like to practice at New Groove Alpacas farm in Middletown because being around these highly intuitive and spiritual animals is more therapeutic than the studio or even the park. When I hold classes here, we’ll toss cedar around our yoga mats so the alpacas come right up to us. It’s awesome.

Matt DiStefano 

General manager, CoreTen Fitness

When you work inside all day, it’s fun to take your workout outdoors—until it gets too cold. I do some mountain biking and yoga outside, and I really like running, whether it’s the 3-mile loop around the Brandywine River downtown or a trail in White Clay Creek State Park. Anything with a less stable surface, like a wooded trail, engages muscles more than running on a treadmill and ups your calorie burn.

Tip: It’s important to hydrate in advance. I eat and drink a lot of water about two hours before I head out.

Talene Iskenian 

Outfitter and kayaker, Wilderness Canoe Trips

I love to kayak through the winter. Being in the sunlight and unplugged from the world has a great mental benefit. I have a bad back and it also helps strengthen those muscles. My favorite place to kayak is on the Brandywine when it’s surrounded by the leaves changing colors, plus there are a lot of areas to pull out of the water and picnic. For a harder workout, I’ll paddle Lums Pond. There’s no river current pushing me along, so I have to put more into it.

Tip: When the weather—and water—get cold, get a skirt. It fits in the cockpit rim of your kayak to keep water out and your body warm and dry.

Jen Besten  

Running coach and personal trainer, Hockessin Athletic Club

I run between 20 and 40 miles per week, depending on whether or not I’m training for a race. Outside, you’re more mentally into your workout—inside, you can just turn on a movie and set the pace. I like the social aspect of running outside with friends, as well as changing up my path—Auburn Heights Preserve is a favorite—to vary the scenery and workout.  

Tip: When it’s cold and dark in the morning, it’s easy to stay in bed. So, plan to run early and go with somebody. Even if you don’t feel up to it, you won’t want to leave your friend hanging.

David Ramirez 

Instructor, Delaware Rock Gym 

I’ve been rock climbing for about two years now. It’s a full-body sport—your forearms and fingers get worked more than anything, but you engage your core and legs to push yourself up and into the wall. The technical aspect also makes it a mental workout. When I’m not in the gym, I like to go to Rock State Park (Maryland). It’s a short hike from the parking lot, there’s not a lot of setup, and the view of the valley from the top—it’s about 80 feet, maybe less—is beautiful. 

Tip: Take a trustworthy partner with you. That’s the most important thing in rope climbing.

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