Whenever Alisa Bralove-Scherr, 34, and her husband, Rich Scherr, 43, go on a trip, they try to find two things: a city tour and a class at a nearby gym. They’d never thought of combining the activities until they spotted a LivingSocial deal for Elite Fitness Tours, which promised the chance to sweat the sights.
That’s how the Owings Mills, Md., couple wound up skipping, jogging and crawling along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on a recent Saturday morning.
“We know the area well, but it’s not like we come to tourist spots a lot,” said Bralove-Scherr, who was eager to find ways to vary their six-day-a-week exercise schedule while enjoying the water view.
Instructor Moses Shirvani delivered plenty of ideas, including frog jumps, partner situps and side-shuffling squats. (That last move, he swore, is part of the workout regimen of legendary Ravens player Ray Lewis.) And between exercises, he sprinkled in tidbits about Charm City history.
“This area was a bunch of empty warehouses,” Shirvani noted before pointing out the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center and the Convention Center.
Elite Fitness Tours has the potential to become just as important as these landmarks to tourism in Baltimore — and to do the same in other cities, says company co-founder Chris Williamson.
Williamson, a master trainer at the Washington Sports Clubs’ Columbia Heights gym, was looking to start a venture focused on group exercise. When his friend Sabre Chase, who’s connected to the tourism industry in Baltimore, suggested holding workouts for visitors, the two of them were in business.
“This fills a void for travelers looking to get outside of their hotels,” Chase says. Walking tours are fine for folks interested in a stroll, but they won’t cut it for anyone who’s in the mood for a cardio challenge.
The company launched in Baltimore in March with a few offerings, including its signature city tour ($30), a 3-mile jogging route that starts at the Inner Harbor and treks through Mount Vernon and Federal Hill. The group doesn’t just stop at a sight — it drops down and cranks out a set of pushups or performs other exercises.
The difficulty level is up to the participants, says Shirvani, who’s always ready with modifications. He’s also happy to adjust the amount and kind of information he delivers. Some clients want to hear him talk about proprioception and other exercise science topics, while others have been more curious about Baltimore’s connection to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the War of 1812.
“If people are interested in history, what it does is they get inspired, they feel good and it makes the workout easier,” Shirvani says.
It should work the same way in Washington now that Williamson has developed his Elite Fitness Tour of D.C. It starts at the Smithsonian Castle, goes past the World War II Memorial and reaches the Lincoln Memorial before heading back.
“People like to run around historical landmarks and parks anyway,” Williamson says. Add in a bunch of “breaks” to do a handful of exercises, and “you can explore while staying in shape.”
For proof, Bralove-Scherr just needed to look at her heart-rate monitor after finishing up at the Inner Harbor. She’d burned 465 calories. Her husband had burned 529.
So neither of them had to feel guilty about pursuing their other favorite tourist activity: sampling the local cuisine.
Details: In addition to its signature Elite Fitness Tours, the company offers other outdoor fitness classes in Baltimore and D.C. For larger groups, EFT is organizing fitness scavenger hunts. For more information, go to elitefitnesstours.com.
Prefer sprints to squats? City Running Tours (cityrunningtours.com) offers 5K, 10K and personalized trips in D.C.