On your mark, get set, go!!! People are getting their campers, kayaks and boats out of storage. They are sorting through their fishing and camping gear and setting the skis and skates in the corner of the garage. Meanwhile, the school year is winding down and the pace of summer is about to kick in with all the usual ecstatic expectations of living in America’s best playground. People spend thousands of dollars to come here in the summer and take part in what we literally just fall out of bed to do. Memorial Day weekend is the usual summertime kick off event and the roads will be clogged - mostly Alaskans eager to get outside and soak in all the natural glories the state has to offer.
With that eagerness, we need to take note that some preparation is in order, beyond just having the appropriate gear and family and friends in agreement as to where to go and what to do. That first long nine-to-twelve-mile hike is usually my rude awakening that something was amiss in my winter activities. I usually discover a variety of initial aches and pains. Wintertime skiing, dog-walking and swimming are all great cardio activities, but the most neglected of my activities which are also offered at The Alaska Club, would go a long ways towards improving my overall fitness, strength and endurance. That activity is weight training. I was never thoroughly convinced of the need for this until I tried it. When I was a long-distance runner in my graduate school years, a coach persuaded me that I would be a better runner, if I ran less and did other sports. Being the universal skeptic that I am, I had to experience this, to believe it. So, I actually tried it! Thus, I ran less, swam more, biked more and added in a strength-training component. To my amazement, after several months of this kind of training, I ran faster, with greater endurance, and was less tired at the end of a race than when I had only trained with running. In fact, I felt as if I could run even more!
Strength training does not mean you have to be a massive weightlifter who foists 400 pounds above his/her head in one heave. It is about gradually, and incrementally, improving one’s strength, which in turn, builds stamina, bone density, a sense of balance and reduces the likelihood of fatigue or injury. Weight training need not be a boring routine. It can be done with light weights at a high repetition which will have the desired effect of improving all of the aforementioned attributes: stamina, strength, endurance and balance. (My husband urged me to tell you that music is the best elixir to lack of motivation: so, bring your tunes and ear buds!) Fifteen minutes daily of light weights can be increased to thirty minutes of gradual repetitions. It should be done gradually or you run the risk of tearing some important soft tissue such as tendons or otherwise injuring yourself. Which leads me to the next important factor in strength training: you are far less likely to injure yourself doing all of your beloved outdoor activities if you do moderate amounts of weightlifting. And for the Senior citizens, gradual build-up routines of weightlifting with light weights can help prevent Osteoporosis, cultivate greater balance and reduce the likelihood of falls. All three of these are concerns of the Seniors and should definitely be incorporated into their fitness regime.
Are you a little flustered with the whole notion of starting something new in your fitness routines? Seek out a Personal Trainer at The Alaska Club. The front desk can get you set up. And while you are at it, you may want to explore some of the other fitness options that have recently opened up: Insanity Live (my personal favorite way to get real extreme cardio with a group setting!), Group Power, Bosu Bootcamp, Barre Above, Rhythm Ride, Hot Yoga, Rise and Shine Yoga and for the swimmers: Masters Swim. These group activities are not only incredibly fun, but they really are a great way to jumpstart our summer with enhanced fitness. Every bit of indoor training will only serve to enhance your summer experience, make you stronger and able to take in all that Alaska can offer! Have a safe and fun summer!