4 unusual group workouts for Atlantans who hate the gym

Dragon Boat Atlanta

Dragon Boat Atlanta
Dragon Boat Atlanta

Illustration by Peter Arkle

Each weekend, from inside a 600-pound, 40-foot boat made of fiberglass and wood and carved into the shape of a snarling dragon, a team of breast cancer survivors plunges their oars into the waters of Lake Lanier. A drummer sits in the front, beating out the tempo of the strokes while 20 rowers paddle furiously; in the back, a steer-person directs the course of the boat.

The Atlanta group was founded in 2004 and is made up of about 30 paddlers who’ve survived the disease, are in treatment for it, or have been affected by it. Team president Linda Evans had lost her mother to breast cancer and just completed treatment for the disease herself when her daughters read a newspaper article about dragon boating and encouraged her to try it. “Crossing that finish line, you suddenly realize that the word ‘cancer’ hasn’t changed whether you can do this,” says Evans, now 75 and a two-time survivor of breast cancer. “It’s just changed how you do it.” dragonboatatl@gmail.com

How to train for it
Paddlers are encouraged to improve their strength and stamina. Try swimming, running, yoga, Pilates, or rowing on a machine.

Fitness benefits
Rowing doesn’t just build Michelle Obama–strong arms; the legs and core get a good workout, too.