It can seem some were born to exercise. Nothing can stop those folks from their ascension to peak physical fitness, while others struggle to work out in the chaos of their lives. Cue a moment of silence.

But daily exercise is vital for everyone, even if it is harder for some more than others. Thankfully, there are several ways to get inspired and utilize Omaha’s great potential for fitness fun. And with the warming weather, there is no better time than the present to discover that potential.

Fontenelle Forest Mushrooms
Earthy mushrooms stand tall deep within the green wonders of Fontenelle Forest.

Hike at Fontenelle Forest

Nebraska has a wide array of hiking areas nestled throughout its great plains, prairies, and bluffs. It is no wonder the topography of the state plays a role in most Nebraska social studies classes. Each area has a different geographic identity, consequently determining the level of challenge it offers hikers. 

Of those many, Fontenelle Forest offers several hiking trails and experiences. The Hawthorne to Marsh to Missouri Loop stretches a vast 10 miles – approximately five hours of activity. Conversely, Hackberry and Linden Trail Loop is less than a mile and traversable in about 20 minutes. 

Moreover, Fontenelle offers an accessible diversity that makes it a key area for nature treks and worthwhile addition to your personalized Omaha hiking guide. The Riverview Boardwalk is just under 1.5 miles – no small stroll – and is wheelchair accessible, ensuring more visitors can exercise and connect to nature. Just make sure to keep your pets at home. 

Swimming Pool
Joan Kroc opened the first Salvation Army Kroc Center in 2002, and in 2004 gave the organization $1.5 billion to open more Kroc Centers around North America.

Swim at The Salvation Army Kroc Center

  • 2825 Y Street
  • (402) 905-3500
  • Adults-only: Mon–Fri 7 am to 12 pm
  • Open Swim: Mon, Wed, Fri – 4 pm to 7 pm | Sat 12 pm to 4 pm
  • Adults – $12 for a day pass, $35 for a monthly membership
  • Teens – $10 for a day pass, $25 for a monthly membership
  • Youth – $7 for a day pass, $15 for a monthly membership

Swimming is the exercise that cools you off as you get more worked up – unlike jogging on an oppressively hot day. It’s also a way to relax while still getting fit – unlike chowing down during patio season. For this reason, it is the preferred physical activity for many, and one of Omaha’s go-to spots is the Joan Kroc Center, named after the philanthropist of the same name, located inside a gigantic community center.

Its two distinct pools prove why the Kroc Center is known locally as a fantastic place to work out. The adults-only swim times can allow for a more focused swim session. The open swim hours let kids explore a fun, large-sized pool featuring a great yellow slide.

Bicycle and fields
No matter how talented you are, wear your helmet.

Bicycle at Zorinsky Lake Park

  • 3808 S. 154 St
  • Open 5 am to 8 pm daily

Ed Zorinsky Lake Park, named after the former Nebraska senator, is a great place to get in touch with nature, the state’s senatorial history, or just plain exercise. The lake’s loop trail runs 7.8 miles altogether, and large stretches are pleasantly shady and cool during summer months. This provides many bicyclists with a secluded bicycling trail to share with fellow enthusiasts.

The West trail specifically offers bicyclists and wheelchair users a place to glide, as this paved asphalt trail is usually 6 feet wide and most accessible to those using mobility equipment. However, note a few steep sections marked with waypoints to warn you may need assistance or may need to turn around. Dogs can exercise alongside you (or at the helm) but must be kept on leashes.  

Lastly, come for the biking, stay for the amenities.  The park offers several to check out after you have biked, from nine sporting fields to fishing.

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
Bridge construction began on October 26, 2006. The bridge officially opened to the public on September 28, 2008.

Stroll the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

  • 705 Riverfront Dr

For twelve years, residents of Omaha and Council Bluffs have utilized the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. And if you want to travel between those two areas without using any gas, exercise in a conducive environment, or have a reason to leave the house, then this bridge is for you.

Specifically, this welcoming bridge is a place to stroll or jog for all skill levels, featuring an out-and-back trail design for 1.4 miles of exercise pleasure. In addition to the wide range of activity options, visitors have an excellent view of the river and birds, making for a contemplative, peaceful experience.

Lastly, at night, the bridge lights up in a brilliant display of colors, which not only keeps the bridge well-lit but gives it a new atmosphere. Whether you wish to exercise alone or with friends, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is a low-key spot to check out.

SAC plane
The SAC museum opened in 1959. Photo from Facebook page

Visit the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum

  • 28210 West Park Highway, Ashland, NE 68003
  • (402) 944-3100
  • Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm
  • $14 for adults, $12 for valid military ID, and $11 for senior citizens
  • $7 for children and free for children under 3

Visiting the Strategic Air Command and Space Museum, also known as the SAC Museum, is a great way to clock some steps. For museum nerds in Omaha, this is the ideal walking trail.

The museum offers a ton of educational and entertainment value. These include hands-on, all-ages exhibits focused on teaching engineering in addition to several historical displays paying testament to the Cold War and advancements in air and space technology.

Lastly, the SAC is wheelchair accessible, featuring electric scooters to rent at $9 and pushchairs, free to use. Increasing accessibility, both physical and educational, is vital for any healthy community, and the museum serves as a representation of that fact.

Benson Park
In typical 18 hole golf, the first nine holes are referred to as the front nine, while the last nine are the back nine. Photo from City of Omaha website

Golf with No Cart at Benson Park

  • 5333 N 72nd Street
  • (402) 444-5920
  • Open from dawn to dusk daily, except Thursday (9 am to dusk)
  • 18 holes: $24 for weekday, $31 for the weekend; $18 for junior or senior
  • Nine holes: $18 for weekday, $20 for the weekend; $13 for junior or senior

The Benson Park golf course features 18 holes and a total par of 72. The course’s length amounts to 6771 yards – and 3.8 miles is a lot of ground to cover without a cart. And add to this the number of times you will swing, and this option offers a workout with a change of pace.

In a city with no shortage of golf courses, Benson Park is a solid, somewhat hidden place to putt. The outdoor facility offers worthy courses for golfers of any skill level. If you have never golfed in Omaha outside of a video game, this will not only blow your mind, but it will also make for a fun, fit way to spend a day outside in Omaha.

Yoga
Lotus House of Yoga offers showering services on the premises. They no longer provide mats for public use.

Practice Yoga at Lotus House of Yoga

  • 222 N 114th Street
  • (402) 281-4218
  • $18 for a single class
  • $156 for a 12-class pack

Lotus House of Yoga is one of the best yoga facilities in Omaha for good reason. With a friendly staff and a thoughtful assortment of classes and workshops to register for, there is no limit to your yoga experiences.

Specifically, Lotus House offers a wide array of classes for visitors, including yoga, cycle, sculpt, and Pilates classes. Their class pack options cover any sort of class, but they expire six months after purchasing so make sure to go big or big home. Additionally, avoid $18 cancellation fees by calling 12 hours before your class starts.

Moreover, Lotus House offers workshops to help you learn or enhance your introspective exercises, including the mental exercises of meditation and philosophy. Note schedules for both classes and workshops are listed and updated online.

Light show
From transient light shows to electric drag races, The Max has something to offer everyone.

Dance at The Max

  • 1417 Jackson St
  • (402) 346-4110
  • Open 4 pm to 2 am daily
  • Friday and Saturday – $5 at 8:30 pm, $10 at midnight
  • Sunday – $3 to $5

The best gay club in America might not scream “exercise here.” But for those in the know, The Max is a fabulous place to do some low-key, high-intensity dancing – and maybe grab a few drinks while you are at it. Not for nothing is this establishment consistently voted Omaha’s best dance club.

Additionally, between 4 pm and 8:30 pm is the time to go if you want a more low-key experience. But if you are looking to party, as it were, stick around. What is more, check out the event schedule online if you are interested in attending any specific shows, drag or otherwise.

Lastly, note not everyone will dig the notion of socializing while exercising, but for others, this can be a great way to be active with friends in a fun, adult environment. But if you are not feeling the nightlife, then you can always dance in the privacy of your home.

Chalco sunset
A beautiful Omaha sunset marks the perfect end to a rigorous recreational game.

Capture the Flag at Chalco Hills

  • 8901 S 154th St
  • Open 6 am to 10 pm daily

Chalco Hills Recreation Area features a spread-out, open layout that’s perfect for a rough and tumble game of Capture the Flag (CTF). And it offers plenty of trails, fishing, and picnicking to make this space ideal for facilitating a day’s worth of activities.

But no other pick-up game can compete with Capture the Flag, a physically intensive game that knows no limit regarding age or numbers of players on teams. With the simple ingredients of a few flags and a few people, then you have got yourself a game. Just steal the other team’s flag and return it to your base. And with the park at your disposal, there is no limit to where or what your bases can be.

Face it – playing games keeps you young. And Capture the Flag is a time-tested recreational game that fosters exercise, fun, and strategy for those truly committed. Just make sure to bring plenty of water, as capturing flags can break a sweat.

Youth basketball
The YMCA of Greater Omaha offers competitive youth basketball in the fall.

Ball at the YMCA of Greater Omaha

  • 10 locations in the Omaha area
  • $17 to $42 per month for individual memberships
  • $66 to $94 per month for household memberships

The YMCA has been immortalized through song thanks to the Village People. And the staying power of that song is justified by the array of services and activities the Y offers. Today, the YMCA of Greater Omaha remains one of the best fitness centers while basketball remains at the forefront, as wildly popular as it was in 1978.

With several locations to choose from, you can likely find a YMCA close to your neck of the woods. But before utilizing their open gym and hooping, check out their gym hours online. Additionally, note you will have to bring any equipment you require, like basketballs. Beyond that, you must bring your a-game. 

Ultimately, and obviously, a gym membership helps one to exercise. But when said gym membership includes access to a basketball gym, you cannot go wrong – or foul, as folks say on the court.


Subscribe to The Reader Newsletter

Our awesome email newsletter briefing tells you everything you need to know about what’s going on in Omaha. Delivered to your inbox every day at 11:00am.

Become a Supporting Member

Subscribe to thereader.com and become a supporting member to keep locally owned news alive. We need to pay writers, so you can read even more. We won’t waste your time, our news will focus, as it always has, on the stories other media miss and a cultural community — from arts to foods to local independent business — that defines us. Please support your locally-owned news media by becoming a member today.

Leave a comment