The festive season is almost upon us, which means there’s not really that much time to go from podgy to perfect. But, that’s an unrealistic goal anyway. The most important thing about being beach-ready is FEELING good about your body and for this a little exercise can go a long, long way. So for those who have left it a little late, here are a few fun ideas to get toned up and feeling great for your beach vacation without having to sell your soul for a gym contract. Yoga The great thing about most yoga studios is the fact that you need not tie yourself down with a long-term contract. In fact, most studios offer contracts for periods as short as a month. Plus, once you have a mat and you’ve got the basics down, you can easily go through a few of the simpler ‘sanas’ (yoga poses) even while travelling. Benefits: Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise, which targets your core, flexibility and strength. Within the first month you will find the muscles in your arms, legs and bum are more toned and is that the ghost of a six-pack below your belly skin? Apart from this you’d also be more flexible (a great asset when you find yourself squeezed into small spaces during long road trips or flights), less stressed and able to get a better night’s sleep. Read this Health24 article for more information. Where to go: Cape Town – Hot Dog Yoga in Sea Point, Yoga Zone in Strand street. Joburg – GoYoga Jozi in Illovo / and Yoga Warrior in Morningside Durban – Samata yoga studio in Warner Beach Trail running Uncomfortable with the term ‘running’? Okay, let’s call it trail WALKING instead… or even good old hiking. The point is – you will be getting out into the open air, braving the challenges presented by a mountain trail at whatever pace you choose. While even a stroll will be better than sitting on the couch watching television, picking up the beat just a bit will help you reap all the rewards of a cardio working. Benefits: Let’s just face it – road running can get rather monotonous, especially if you follow the same old, boring route every day. Trail running, on the other hand, offers you the schmorgasbord of nature, uneven surfaces and unexpected obstacles, which, if nothing else, will at least distract you from those painful first phases of fitness. It’s also gentler on your joints than road running, takes place in a less polluted environment and works your core. Read more on Health24 Where to go: Check out the Trail Running SA website for route details around the country Adventure Boot Camp If you’re looking for a month of intensive fitness training, Adventure Boot Camp is your best bet. Aimed mostly at women, Boot Camp takes the form of a four week outdoor fitness programme that covers everything from running to core exercises. If you’re fond of group activities and enjoy bonding with new people, it’s sure to be loads of fun. Benefits: The ABC website states that you can expect a 3-5% reduction in body fat, 25% improvement in strength and endurance and 100% gain in self-confidence. Sounds good, no? Where to go: Check out the Adventure Boot Camp website for more details. Surfing Let’s just start with a warning: it is NOT as easy as it seems. Now that you know this and are spiritually prepared for a challenge, get out there and have some fun… maybe take a lesson or two to make it a little easier for yourself. Benefits: Not only does surfing give you a full body workout, it’s also a great way to meet new people and enjoy the outdoors. The three main physical benefits of surfing are cardiovascular fitness, back and shoulder strength from paddling and leg and core strength from standing and riding waves. Where to go: With a coastline stretching more than 2 500km, you’re really quite spoiled for choice. If, however, you’re a beginner Cape Town’s Muizenberg Beach and Durban’s South Beach are your best bet. Check out WannaSurf to see if your local/holiday break is a good place to start Longboarding Coming in the wake of the ongoing cycling craze, longboarding is the latest, trendiest and most eco-friendly way to get around South Africa’s streets. For all intents and purposes, it’s pretty much the same as skateboarding, but the emphasis lies more with cruising than doing tricks. Benefits: The health benefits are very similar to surfing. However, just brace yourself for an eina fall or two...Where to go: Anywhere and everywhere that allows skateboarding - in Cape Town Sea Point promenade is very popular option. In fact, there's a whole community forming around the sport - check out PromenadeMondays for more details. Durban's beachfront also has a great vibe for skating.