RECOMMENDED: Fitness guide to NYC
Where to do it: The Manhattan Kayak Company (Pier 66, 26th St at Twelfth Ave; 212-924-1788, manhattankayak.com. Classes and tours through Oct 31, check website for updates on weather and temperature conditions.)
Skills you'll gain: You may be sitting down, but kayaking is a full-body exercise. An especially rigorous workout can be had during the SkillFit class (Thu 6:30pm; $65), which explains how to correctly utilize your legs, hips and torso through every stroke, guaranteeing a total strength and cardiovascular exercise. After you graduate from the basics, you can participate in one of MKC's more than 30 tours around Manhattan, all of which are adjusted to fit group skill level and weather conditions.
What's offered: The Paddle Basics classes (Sun 2pm through Oct 15; four hours $175) provide on-land and in-water instruction with a focus on teaching fundamentals and correct form, while Fun in the Sun (Sat, Sun 1, 3, 5pm; Tue--Fri 6pm; $35) features a 15-minute introduction, plus an hour of guided water time. The Jump Start package (Wed--Fri, Sun 5:30pm; 2 hrs 30 mins $100) offers a more in-depth introduction, during a tour that travels as much as a mile downriver.
Where to do it: New York City's Downtown Boathouse (Pier 40 at W Houston St * Pier 96 at 56th St * 72nd St at Henry Hudson Pkwy (downtownboathouse.org). Classes through October 17.)
Skills you'll gain: As with any sport, the best kayak workout is achieved using the proper technique: The paddling strengthens your upper body and tones your core, while activating your cardiovascular system. Out on the Hudson, heavy currents and varying weather make for especially challenging conditions.
What's offered: Free kayaking every weekend at three locations along the Hudson River. On most Wednesday evenings at Pier 96,volunteer paddling coaches teach basic kayaking skills such as forward strokes and navigation. Most include practice in the water, provided enough boats are available. Three-hour expeditions will leave on weekend mornings through the end of September. (To attend, you must be deemed fit and skilled enough by a qualified boathouse leader.)
Where to do it: New York Kayak Company (40 North River Piers, West Side Hwy at W Houston St; 212-924-1327, nykayak.com. Classes through Oct 9.)
Skills you'll gain: A vertical alternative to typical sea paddling, stand-up paddling involves getting to your feet atop a special paddleboard, which resembles an old-fashioned surfing longboard. This balancing act works both upper-body and leg muscles. You'll strengthen your core, hips and glutes.
What's offered: The Stand Up Paddling trial class (Wed 6--8pm; $25) is a very basic introduction—you'll share one longboard with a few people, and take turns practicing balance with the seven-foot canoe paddle. You'll work on more intense maneuvering skills at the SUP beginner classes (Tue 6--8pm; Sat 9:30--11:30am, 12:30--2:30pm. Each class $100, five for $400).
Where to do it: Long Island City Community Boathouse (46-01 5th St at Anable Basin, Long Island City, Queens; licboathouse.org. Classes through October [weather permitting].)
Skills you'll gain: Canoes allow for a slightly more communal expedition, with plenty of room for a friend or two to share the boat. Sitting on the elevated benches in the LICCB canoes, paddlers must work their chest and back muscles, along with their biceps and triceps. The single-bladed paddle (different from the kayak paddle, which has a blade on each end) requires lifting and twisting to change directions, concentrating work on core abdominal muscles.
What's offered: Free Sunday kayak and canoe sessions are offered on a first-come, first-paddle basis at Hallet's Cove (31st Ave at Vernon Blvd; 1--5pm). On Fridays, try the evening Chill Paddle kayak sessions (6--9:30pm, dates vary, check website for details). Take a minute to catch your breath and admire the sunset views every now and again.
Where to do it: Jetty Jumpers (917-734-9919, jettyjumpers.com. Three-hour tour: first person $275, second person $175, third person $150. 90 min tour: first person $150, discounted prices for additional people; couple $225. Photography $25 on any tour. Sessions through Oct 31.)
Skills you'll gain: "Jet Skiing isn't just a wild ride. It's a real workout," says Jetty Jumpers owner (and Brooklyn-born adventure junkie) Anthony Stallone. Strapped to a 260-horsepower bucking machine, you must shift your weight, clench your stomach muscles, and tighten your shoulders, upper back and quads with every challenging wave.
What's offered: Up to ten passengers team up with qualified Jetty Jumpers drivers for a private three-hour guided tour of New York City Harbor. Leaving from Brooklyn's Sheepshead Bay, the Jet Skis whiz past Coney Island's Cyclone, before passing under the Verrazano Bridge.
Where to do it: NY Kiteboard (333 E 119th St between First and Second Aves; 646-752-4980, ny-kiteboard.com. Classes through Oct 31.)
Skills you'll gain: A curious combination of windsurfing and kite flying, kiteboarding involves using a giant sail to fly up to 20 feet into the air. Although it's a physically intense, extreme sport—requiring a strong stomach to control the flying kite and shifting board—it also demands a sharp mind, to mentally calculate wind gusts. NY Kiteboard owner Ricardo Gomes requires all beginners to attend the introductory class, called Ground School. That's followed by kite-flying lessons on the beach, before hitting the water with a one-way helmet radio, to ensure continued instruction on yourfirst flight.
What's offered: NY Kiteboard's beginner course features a lecture on flying theory, wind navigation and the mechanics of the sport, plus kite-flying lessons (five-hour one-day session $399). Another option for beginners is the more extensive Full Kiteboard Package, which adds a second land-flying lesson and a three-hour water session (11 hours, can be split over two days, $799). Equipment and transportation to Long Island's South Shore are included in the cost of all beginner lessons.
Where to do it: Hudson River Community Sailing (Pier 66 Boathouse, 26th St at the Hudson River; 212-924-1920, hudsonsailing.org. Classes through Oct 17.)
Skills you'll gain: You and up to four mates will learn the basic ropes of sailing—from steering the boat to pulling lines (a skill that works your shoulders, arms and chest). The 20-hour Basic Keelboat Course also breaks down the anatomy of the sailboat and covers each role necessary to sail the ship, plus it schools you on nautical skills and sailing fundamentals.
What's offered: Taste of Sailing tours (2 hrs $80/person, noon, 3, 6pm; reservations recommended) are offered daily, and the intensive Basic Keelboat Course ($400, one weekend Fri 6:30--9pm, Sat 8:30am--6:30pm, Sun 8:30am--4pm, or Mon and Wed 6--8:30pm for three weeks) can be attempted as a weekend package or on a three-week weekday schedule.
Where to do it: Lakeview Marina & Ski Instruction (2 S. Beach Rd, Lake Hopatcong, NJ; 973-663-2935, lakeviewmarina.com. Classes through Oct 31.)
Skills you'll gain: As you hold on to a 65-foot rope connecting you to a fast-moving boat, your arms and shoulders are put to the test—you'll have to use your strength to keep from tumbling into the water. Maintaining a balanced seated position works your upper legs, chest and back for proper posture.
What's offered: Certified instructors teach all levels of instruction, from the basics of standing up to advanced jumps and gymnastic tricks. Groups of up to ten people can split the fee of $110 per hour ($120 for larger parties). Reservations required.