“I am not a yogi.” “I am not a cyclist.” “What am I doing?” “Am I in over my head?” Words of doubt bombarded my train of thought as I drove from the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf Coast via Interstate-75 last weekend. Thankfully, the thoughts quieted the moment I heard the swamp waking up with croaks and tweets, saw the sun’s rays peaking over the horizon saying “good morning” and felt the crisp March air on my bare legs.
I may not be any of those things above, but this is what I am. I am a girl who loves being active. I am a girl who loves the outdoors. I am a girl who loves adventure. This is right up my alley.
The “this” I am referring to is a one day biking and yoga adventure in the Florida Everglades. The tour, hosted by Jill from Wellfit Institute and run by Naples Bicycle Tours (referred to as NBT in this article), is a six-hour event full of learning (you all know how much I love to learn!) and physical activity. This is what I love.
The biking and yoga adventure started with a welcome from both Jill and the husband-wife team from NBT. A brief explanation of the Fakahatchee Strand National Forest, its flora and fauna and claim to fame, the orchids, followed. We were then quickly paired with a numbered bike (that is pre-adjusted to your height – genius!) and began our twelve-mile bike ride through the park. Now, lest you think twelve miles is too much, have no fear! The bike ride through the Everglades is broken up into smaller intervals and easy for all abilities.
Four miles into the biking adventure we arrived at our outdoor yoga “studio.” Yes, you heard me right, an outdoor yoga class in the Florida Everglades. Its ground carpeted in dried leaves, its walls created by plants and shrubs and the ceiling, nothing more than tall tree limbs, leaves and blue sky.
Jill, a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200), taught a yoga class for a very diverse group of men and women, young and old, beginners and experts. Jill gave praise generously to those who tried and succeeded and even to those who tried and “failed.” We all know trying does not equal failure though – hence those obligatory quotations marks.
Jill’s contagious effervescence was continuous throughout the class, and the day for that matter. Right from the start I was happy (relieved) to know that Jill gave modifications for each movement; she wanted every participant to feel successful, but also challenged.
The yoga class (or should I say experience?) in the Florida Everglades lasted an hour. This was just long enough because I felt like I worked my “asanas” off in that amount of time. Did I mention I learned the language of yoganese on this Biking and Yoga adventure?
Next on the itinerary, a short two-mile bike to lunch. A delicious spread of organic chicken, couscous salad, and potato chips along with fresh fruit, gluten-free brownies and ice cold lemonade was waiting for us upon arrival . As if the spread of food wasn’t enough, we dined at an old, rustic cottage with picnic tables, a dock and pond that is home to local wildlife.
NBT led a plant walk after lunch for those interested. I was all over that. Learning Alert: Did you know that vanilla beans come from orchids? Who knew?
The six-mile ride back to the morning’s launch site after lunch re-traces the first six miles. Luckily, the nature of nature is such that wildlife appears and disappears when you are not looking. Therefore, we were able to see two alligators, the elusive Everglades Mink and tons of wading birds along the bike roads.
This incredible biking and yoga adventure in the Florida Everglades hosted by Wellfit Institute was organized, safe, educational and adventurous – everything it said it would be. From the pre-adjusted bikes to the organic lunch, all the details of the event were well prepared and thought out. Naples Bicycle Tours provided exemplary service, educational opportunities and fun. The entire event was of the utmost quality thanks to Jill’s expertise in yoga, psychology and Wilderness First Response training. Combined, these qualities equate to a well-run, professional adventure in the Florida Everglades that is well worth your time and financial commitment. I appreciate this fact as a customer and traveler.
I left this experience with much more than I came with. I came by myself, but left with new friendships and contacts. I came only knowing facts, but left with memories and experiences from the Florida Everglades. I arrived with fears and doubts about my own abilities, but left with the confidence that comes with trying new activities and being around positive people.
The best take away from this event is this: Adventure is not only found in exotic locales. Adventure is right under your nose, in your own backyard and close to home. So get out there!
What are you waiting for?
Important: I am happy and honored to tell you that this article is a product of a collaboration between Wife with Baggage and Wellfit Institute. Fees for this event were waived as part of this collaboration.