Get Up and Go in 2014
With the promise of better weather comes the realization for many that it won’t be long until we shed our long sweaters and tall boots. As the Fitness Supervisor at the Monon Community Center, and having been both a group fitness instructor and personal trainer for almost ten years, I see first-hand the change in mindset from “I’m going to take it easy all winter long” to “what do you MEAN I have only a few months before I have to wear tank tops/swim suits/shorts?”
There’s always a part of me that wants to stress there’s never a time-out from taking care of yourself. Physical fitness is an ongoing endeavor that will nurture the only body you’re ever going to have. During holidays and vacations, we sometimes throw all caution to the wind by eating whatever we want and staying indoors, though unfortunately not within the confines of a fitness center.
People often ask, “What is the best way for me to get back into shape, burn calories and tone up?” My response is always, “Whatever you enjoy, whatever you can commit to and whatever will prevent you from falling off the proverbial wagon.” Becoming fit isn’t about forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy; I’ve seen those who try it fail every time.
Mix things up. Do a variety of activities. The worst approach is the exact workout day after day. Challenge yourself to try something new. I teach cycle classes and have always felt comfortable clipping on to a bike that was stationary. In an attempt to practice what I preach, I purchased a road bike on which, since I’m very clumsy, I was much less secure. Did I fall? Absolutely, but I’ve found I love riding outside on the Monon Trail. It’s a great addition to my other workouts and I’ll never stop encouraging others to keep experimenting. The lifelong benefits make it all worthwhile.
YOGA Be prepared to breathe, sweat and have fun! Yoga, as we know it in the west, is an excellent complement to any exercise program for restoring and stretching. The more vigorous practices, such as Vinyasa, Power Yoga and/or Ashtanga, are true stand-alone workouts. An intelligently designed yoga practice contains both controlled breath and purposeful movements, which will increase bone density, strengthen muscle and develop flexibility.
The added benefit of yoga is the mind-body connection we make while practicing since this is not just an external exercise. Every yoga asana (posture) contains both elements of sukha (ease) and sthira (steadiness). As we balance the two opposing forces we naturally build strength in the arms, core and legs, while at the same time learning to let go, experience joy and automatically release stress.
Rather than focusing on competition with others, yoga teaches the art of being where you are and self-acceptance. It is an easy choice for exercise since there are so many physical and mental rewards. Yoga can fill many needs in busy times.
RUNNING and walking are a great way to stay healthy and in shape. The relatively low cost required for shoes and apparel, as well as the limited time necessary to achieve a beneficial workout, explains why running and walking are especially appealing.
Getting started is easy. All you need are properly fitted shoes and comfortable moisture-wicking clothing. Shoes are important and being properly fitted will make your exercise more enjoyable as well as reduce the potential for injury. Visit a running specialty store to insure that you receive the best possible fitting service. Using gait analysis, they help you select the best shoe to fit your specific needs as either a walker or runner.
Are you running correctly? Running form is a hot topic these days with emphasis on returning to a natural running form. A natural gait focuses on a shorter stride which enables runners to land on their midfoot instead of striking heal first. This style is much more efficient and less apt to cause injury.
Both beginning and experienced runners seek advice on their form. If you find you want more information on technique, check with the professionals. They’ll help get your running or walking started off on the right foot.
BICYCLING means “family, fun and fitness.” No matter what shape you’re in, you can always improve just by pedaling around your neighborhood in the evenings after work. Invite your spouse, child or friend to go with you and you’ll enjoy your outing even more. If you want to ratchet up your workout, try using a bike computer as motivation to increase speed and distance. You’ll gain both strength and endurance as a result.
Like other forms of exercise, biking is a great stress reliever. This is an activity that requires concentration since you’re moving faster than you would either walking or running. Your mind therefore leaves daily worries behind as it focuses on the path ahead. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel physically and mentally when you pedal up your driveway.
Need some new places to bike? Take advantage of the variety of routes that the City of Carmel has mapped out for your enjoyment. No excuse to skip this ride; your entire body will appreciate its benefits.
SWIMMING While most people are fully aware that they should be actively pursuing an exercise regimen, it’s not always a matter of hitting the pavement for a quick jog or jumping on the bike for a ride.
For those plagued with athletic injuries or conditions like arthritis, the challenge not only becomes carving out time for exercise, but finding an activity that isn’t painful or won’t aggravate one’s condition.
Swimming is a great exercise for everyone, but especially this group. It provides whole-body conditioning with a low risk of injury, as well as benefitting one’s cardiovascular system by improving the body’s use of oxygen. The resistance and buoyancy created by the water offer an amazing way to strengthen muscles without a lot of impact which can damage joints. Swimming can also enhance one’s traditional workout. A few laps in the pool not only help with cool down, but also stimulate blood flow to muscles to help them recover.
Fortunately for those living in the Carmel area, this type of exercise opportunity is available throughout the year at the Monon Community Center, where there is an Indoor Aquatics facility as well as an outdoor Waterpark.
While the actual amount of calories burned through swimming is fairly low (about three calories per mile are burned for each pound of body weight), swimming is fantastic for overall fitness and well-being.
Monon Community Center
Monon Community Center