DEWEY BEACH, Del. (AP) — Before stumbling out of the Starboard after a night of drinking, or instead of staying in bed the next morning fighting off a hangover, Blair Jost is out to make sure you feel a little less guilty about your weekend debauchery at the beach.
It makes for a pretty catchy slogan for her company: “Pay your dues before you booze.”
Jost, 36, is into year two of running Dewey Beach Fit, a workout instruction class at the Delaware beaches’ biggest party town, right at the entrance to the beach off Dagsworthy Street.
A graduate of Lake Forest High School in Felton, Jost had been coming to the Delaware beaches all throughout her childhood. She moved to Dewey after graduating from the University of Delaware with a degree in theater production. Her stage became Starboard, where she tended bar.
In search of a change of scenery, she picked up and moved to New York when she was 26. After a few years of service industry work, with summers in Dewey, she was turned on to the world of fitness and dove in head first, becoming a certified instructor. She stopped coming down to the beach to grow her business. Still a resident of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Jost is a personal trainer, teaches classes at a gym and also runs a boot camp workout at Carl Schurz Park along the East River.
But after realizing a lot of her clients were fleeing the city for the summer, she turned her eyes back to Dewey, where last year — after planning out a logo and getting ads out — she launched Dewey Beach Fit.
It came with some struggles.
“People are creatures of habit when they come down here,” Jost said. “They do the same thing every year. So it’s like, how do I integrate myself into that?”
She learned the hard way. Empty classes. Sometimes just a few signups. Sundays, she figured out, weren’t a good day. Last summer was full of trial and error.
“It’s like getting your teeth kicked in over and over again,” Jost said.
She found social media to be a powerful tool. By the end of the summer, classes started filling out. Back in New York, regular Dewey participants would contact her when they were in the city to go work out.
“Over the winter, I realized what a community it built and how awesome it was and how everyone connects on social media,” Jost said. “I want to build this community.”
Fully ingrained in the Dewey community, Jost has used her connections to her advantage. Starboard provides free water to Dewey Beach Fit participants. And when it rains, Northbeach, on the bayside, has a covered sand area that Jost uses for class.
This year, she’s added yoga to the mix. Missy Radcliffe, an instructor at Ignite in Rehoboth, is heading up yoga classes under the Dewey Beach Fit umbrella.
Jost will leave NYC for the summer and begin classes on a more regular schedule come the last week in June. Beach Fit classes are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with yoga offered at 7:45 on Thursday and Saturday, as well. Jost will take Radcliffe’s classes on Saturday morning before running Beach Fit right after.
Jost’s company is another in a trend seen around the fitness world, bringing the activities outdoors. Many cities around the globe offer different types of outdoor fitness classes. Many take advantage of waterfronts.
Dewey Beach Fit isn’t the only outlet locally for those looking to be active on the beach. In the Lewes-Rehoboth area, Dimitra Yoga offers classes on the beach. In Bethany, Kim Cavagnaro and her husband, Justin, are offering beach yoga four days per week in just their second season of business at Ocean Vayu Yoga.
Their class, located on the beach at Central Blvd., runs for an hour beginning at 7 a.m., allowing for views of the sunrise.
“The beach is an awesome place to do yoga with the salt air and the waves crashing,” Kim Cavagnaro said. “It’s just a perfect way to increase the meditative aspect of yoga.”
The aptly named Beach Pilates and Wellness Studio in Bethany offers beach pilates classes on Mondays in Ocean City and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Bethany.
There are others, too.
All levels of fitness are welcomed at Jost’s classes, which are open to those 18 and older (or 16 if accompanied by an adult). Jost said she’s seen a wide range of ages at her classes, including 65-year-old Bonnie Hughes, a Wallingford, Pennsylvania resident who frequents Dewey.
“She really works you hard,” Hughes said. “It’s just not showing up. She’s very warm and welcoming. She definitely gives positive reinforcement all the time. You want to go back.”
Even for a honeymoon.
Jost said a couple contacted her and are set to begin a cross-country road trip honeymoon with a Beach Fit class later this summer.
Workout attire is all that’s required to attend, though Jost recommends bringing water and a towel, even though those are both provided.
Shoes need not be worn. After all, sand is flying around and there’s no avoiding it.
“You’re going to look like a sugar cookie by the end,” Jost said.
But you won’t feel as bad eating sugar cookies later.