Exercise in Florida


Photo: Kelly Dean

Exercise in Florida

By Kelly Dean

If you’re out in the mornings or evenings in Florida, you’re going to meet the zombie horde that is the physically fit. Being physically fit is a gift given to those who don’t need it: the privileged gene pool. At least that is my excuse and such denial works for me.

With zeal I find unfathomable, Floridians attack exercise like I attack a Bloody Mary, except I am almost certain that I am happier when I’m done than they are when they’re done.

Each exercise group has their own qualities as seen by others, in this case me. So in my constant zeal for self-improvement, I will outline them here.


The problem with the walking zombie horde is they always seek the coolest time of the day to walk. I’m sure this isn’t mutually exclusive to Florida but heat seems to be. And these aren’t the super physically fit folks either; they just want to get their 30-minutes in so their doctor doesn’t give up on them if he ever happens to have the defibrillator paddles in hand. The problem is, when the rest of us are driving to and from work, we have to avoid running them down because it’s so close to being dark that we can’t see them. And if we get too close, we get the snowbird stink-eye.

OK, wow, they are the ones crossing the street at random and I’m the bad guy for just lightly tapping their newly install knee-joint with my car. That seems fair.


Runners in Florida are like walkers, except these folks seem to be running for other reasons (and no, it isn’t because they likely committed a crime). Runners actually care about their health or they wouldn’t put themselves through the pain. Also, they don’t always choose the early morning or late evening because they want to sweat. I know, isn’t that odd? Again, they want to sweat. I admire them and they are inspiring. There’s nothing more inspiring than sitting on the lanai with a cold beer and watching them go by.


In Florida, there are different kinds of bikers. And I’m speaking about the classic biker, not the Harley Davidson types. That’s another article entirely.

One type of biker is the beach cruiser type biker. They buy or rent those 50s style bikes like you see in Key West with a “Rent Me” sign hanging from a well-placed basket, which is full of water toys. I don’t know who invented the 50s style bike, but they did not have an engineering degree. It’s the only bike you actually do forget how to ride.

The mountain bike style has become popular. These are often made by companies like Trek (seeking product placement here, sorry). These folks seem to be the closest to being like me: overweight, graying or homeless. I think these people are actually trying to live a lifestyle that’s simply better for them. Or the wife has made this decision for the husband and that simply is how it’s going to be. They look good riding together. But the husband is always a half-block behind the wife, noticeably cussing her existence.

Of course, Florida has the amazing-I-chould-have-beat-the-pre-steroid-Lance-Armstrong-racing-type-person. This biker has spent more money on the bike and outfit than on the car. Unfortunately, the perfectly color-coordinated shoes, pants, shirt, helmet and bike have shorts one can see through. It doesn’t matter one’s orientation, there are just some things people don’t want to see while mentally preparing a presentation for the boss on the way to work.

Paddle boarders

I’m sorry. This is one form of exercise I just don’t understand. I mean, it’s not cool looking to me. If you’re going to do a strenuous exercise, it needs to be one that impresses the average guy drinking a beer watching you, like the running thing above. These people are standing upright on a $1000 surfboard-looking platform with long poles and paddles at the end. They look like that scary guy navigating the river Styx. I don’t get it.


Photo: Kelly Dean


I had a college buddy who used to get in his car every weekend, drive from the University of Missouri in Columbia all the way to Colorado to use his Kayak on the Colorado River. After crashing through life-threatening white water all weekend, he would then pack up Sunday and drive all the way back for class Monday. That is the definition of bad-ass.

In Florida, dozens of canal denizens get together and go looking for manatees and dolphins. The husband is 50 yards behind and noticeably cussing. Are we seeing a trend here?

Scuba divers and surfers

I put these two Florida exercise activities under one category because the mindset is similar. Getting in shape doing these two activities requires one to understand that you could die doing them, and that is also pretty bad-ass.

Sharks rarely like to snack on people, but for some reason, they really like the “3-Ss”: Scuba divers, surfers and swimmers. It’s like “es-car-got” to them. I could resist – the “s” thing – help me. Plus, Florida is home to the most celebrated surfer in the world, Kelly Slater (Yeah, take that my Aussie buddies).

I know I’ve left swimming off the list, but in reality, swimming in Florida is more like “bobbing.” If you have to do it with a cocktail in your hand, I’m not sure it qualifies as exercise. But it’s my personal favorite. I recommend it highly.

Golf is in the same category, but that’s another article.

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