Spring into fitness

By on April 4, 2012

Spring is a time for rejuvenation and rebirth, so apply that theme to your workout routine this season and get outside.

By taking advantage of the rising temperatures, your workout at the gym can go from repetitive and boring to fun and social. Here are a few alternatives to your classic gym sesh that work your entire body.

1) Go Biking

Cheshire Cycle recently opened a new location at 3550 Whitney Avenue. Students are offered a 25 percent discount off daily, weekend and week-long bike rentals as long as they bring a student I.D. Take advantage of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, which covers a route of nearly 84 miles from New Haven to Northampton, Mass. and runs behind the shopping center where Peachy Keen is located. Use that as motivation!

Biking is a full-body workout. It requires you to use your arms and core strength to stabilize your body. This area is also very hilly, so chances are you’ll be integrating your back muscles and challenging your glutes and hamstrings, according to Tami Reilly, associate director of fitness.

“One of the reasons I love [biking] is because it’s something you learn when you’re 5 that you can do forever since it’s kinder on the joints,” Reilly said.

Check out Cheshire Cycle’s website for prices.

2) Hit the Trail

Sleeping Giant State Park is just minutes away. There are seven different trails to accommodate every level of fitness. The blue trail is rated the hardest and leads to a stunning view of the Mount Carmel campus. The red trail is the easiest and ends at a stone tower. Engaging in just 30 minutes of hiking improves your cardiovascular fitness, meaning your heart and lungs can deliver oxygen more efficiently to working muscles. Fitness aside, hiking also acts as a stress reliever.

“It’s like an escape,” Reilly said. “You walk across the street and you’re somewhere completely different. I think that connection with nature is really important on a subtler level than just for fitness.”

Reilly also mentioned that people who experience shin splints will appreciate an incline. Hiking is easier on the body than walking on the sidewalk, for example.

3) Yoga

Three hour-long yoga sessions are featured on Q30 TV’s YouTube channel. Reilly instructs yoga basics, intermediate yoga and yoga for all levels.

Beginning next week, Q30 will broadcast these yoga sessions between 8 and 10 a.m. and then again between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. everyday.

Reilly also mentioned that she is organizing weekly “Hike to Yoga” trips where she will instruct a yoga class after a hike to the tower on Sleeping Giant. All students are encouraged to participate.

“Yoga classes focus on breathing,” Reilly said. “The word ‘yoga’ means union so it’s really about the union of breath and movement. A lot of what we’re doing is teaching people how to move with their inhale and exhale.”

Yoga is also about flexibility, however students don’t already need to be flexible to participate, insists Reilly.

Other than improving flexibility, yoga builds strength and improves muscle tone, ultimately leading to better posture. Most standing and sitting poses develop core strength because you’re counting on deep abdominal strength to support and maintain each pose.

So grab your friends, your laptop and a mat or towel, head to a grassy area and conduct your own class. Also, make sure to inquire about future “Hike to Yoga” trips.

4) Bring equipment to the quad

Laying out and working on your tan is definitely relaxing. But, by taking just 30 minutes to play a game of Ultimate Frisbee, throw a football, kick a soccer ball or try to keep the volleyball from hitting the ground, you are doing your body a world of good.

The American College of Sports and Medicine recommends that we get at least 30 minutes of cardio five to seven times a week. However, Reilly emphasized beginning with a small goal.

“Try to do something physical three days a week,” Reilly said. “Once that becomes a habit, you can start adding other pieces. If you hate weights but like cardio, start just with cardio. Once that’s a habit, incorporate weights once a week.”

Reilly also encourages students to choose an activity that motivates them to want to do it again.

“That’s why so many people don’t have success,” Reilly said. “They choose an activity that’s too hard or too much too soon and dread going back to it.”

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About Catherine Boudreau

Arts & Life Editor
Email: artslife@quchronicle.com
Year: 2013
Major: Print journalism
Hometown: East Berkshire, Vt.