Fitness studios often work hard to cultivate a relaxing setting. They might install floor-to-ceiling windows, play soothing music, or enforce a strict policy against flash mobs. But Urban Kai ramps up the relaxation to the next level. Their fitness classes take place on the Hillsborough River, where yoga groups stretch and bend atop stand-up paddleboards. The aquatic setting surrounds exercisers in waterfront architecture and open skies, which take on brilliant hues at sunrise and sunset. Dolphins, turtles, cats, and other marine life make occasional appearances as well.
Urban Kai was founded by Michael Conlee and his wife, Aimee. Mr. Conlee originally started paddle boarding as a hobby, but he quickly realized that his new pastime had toned his physique. Mr. Conlee started Urban Kai, and—along with his fellow instructors—he now teaches several on-water fitness classes. Urban Kai's yoga-on-water class, for example, helps participants build strength and flexibility, while warrior-zen workouts combine paddleboard exercises with on-land workouts. Mr. Conlee and his team also take groups on long-distance paddleboard tours.