pop quiz, hot shot: did you get winded after a flight of subway stairs this morning? did you miss a party at the qt hotel pool because you didn't want to be seen in a bathing suit? do you avoid shopping at century 21 because of those door-less dressing rooms? if you answered yes, chances are you could probably stand to lose a few pounds and get in shape. whether you need to boost your resistance in the face of those tempting cupcakes or tone your flabby arms, this head-to-toe guide has got you covered. instead of sending you off to the gym, here's a list of ways to engage your mind and body and enjoy it, too. "when we were kids, no one had to tell us to exercise, so as an adult it's important to bring some aspect of fun back into it," says ben hendrickson, a personal trainer and rock-climbing instructor at chelsea piers. "gyms can be very isolating places, and if you're doing a group activity, there's a great support network. it's a great benefit of doing something with a great community of people."
for the head: hypnosis before you embark on your fitness journey, take some time to focus your mind on the task at hand. at the tribeca hypnosis and healing institute, life coach and hypnotist trudy beers hopes to help her clients manage their food cravings and maintain a regular exercise program. "hypnosis helps people focus," beers said. "if they make an agreement inside that they really care about themselves and want to eat the right foods and exercise, it can help them stick to their program." beers says she typically has one in-person session with a client and sends him or her home with a personalized tape to listen to at night.
for the arms: tennis every summer, the pros come to compete at the u.s. open at the usta billie jean king national tennis center in flushing meadows, queens. but you don't have to be rafael nadal to play at the world famous courts. the facility offers indoor and outdoor courts, adult and teen training programs and private lessons. after a few weeks on the court, you might just be able to buy milk and juice during the same trip to the grocery store.
for the chest: kayak with so much of new york's waterfront inaccessible, it's easy to forget that manhattan is indeed an island surrounded by water. for the low-low price of zero dollars and zilch cents, the downtown boathouse will loan you a kayak and lifejacket. as you paddle around the hudson river, you'll not only appreciate the skyline and reflect on the city's one-time bustling ports, you'll also tighten the muscles in your chest, arms and back. (www.downtownboathouse.org or www.redhookboaters.org)
for the abs: yoga the practice of yoga aims to bring mind and body into harmony. but, when done outside, yoga can help you feel more connected to nature. the new york city parks department offers free outdoor yoga classes around the city. through poses such as "the plank" and "the half moon," you can engage the abdominal muscles and work to flatten your gut. toned abs help to support posture and allow you to squeeze into your favorite jeans.
for the gluteus maximus: rock climbing rock climbing can open your eyes to the city's topographical features that you previously didn't notice. armed with a few lessons from the city climber's club and a skilled partner, you'll find yourself peering lustily at rocky outcroppings in central park and think to yourself, "i can climb that." the health benefits of rock climbing extend to the whole body, but your glutes are sure to get a workout.
for the legs: pedal boat while your eyes drink in the beauty of brooklyn's prospect park, engage your quadriceps-those big muscles of your thigh-to propel your pedal boat around the park's lake. pedal into the lagoon to enjoy the stillness of nature, or try to avoid the ducks on the pond. they can get aggressive!
for the feet: reflexology reflexology is based on the idea that various points on the feet are connected with different organs in the body. during a session, a practitioner at the laura norman and associates reflexology center may press, massage or squeeze certain points to achieve a desired outcome, such as stimulating the metabolism to aid weight loss.