Fitness guru Teresa Marchese

Varied terrain, stunning views provide the best workout environment
Irene Edwards

At 5:45 on a brisk morning, before even the first streaks of light hit San Francisco Bay, Teresa Marchese leads a group of eight women in a series of heart-pounding sprints down a waterfront trail at Crissy Field.

"Come on, come on ― I know you can do it!" she tells a panting newbie who falls short of her drill-sergeant pace, somehow managing to be cheerful and motivating but not the least bit obnoxious.

Outdoor boot camps are the current fitness craze in San Francisco ― no surprise in a city known for its beauty and athleticism. Marchese, who founded her Rock Solid Fitness program during law school, leads one of the best. Her female-only groups meet five mornings a week at the Marina District's Crissy Field (when they're not running Rocky-style drills up and down Pacific Heights' steep Lyon Street stairs).

"Sometimes we'll spot sea lions as we're lifting weights," she says. For her one-on-one clients, she might bring gloves and shields for kickboxing under the cypress trees at Sutro Heights Park, or put them through a hard run in the sand at Ocean Beach ― "but they don't like me too much after that."

Marchese seeks out the city's most scenic trails and incorporates them into her routines. On a hike with her husband, she stumbled across the labyrinth at Lands End ― a surprise even to longtime S.F. residents.

The natural drama of her surroundings is a motivator. "You can work out on a cliff or run at the ocean's edge," Marchese says. "Even in the middle of this cosmopolitan city, you still find these places to be completely alone."

Info:  Rock Solid Fitness ($55 per week; 415/759-1605)