First of all, Happy New Year and, if I may say so, good riddance to 2020! We’ve been hunkered down for 10 months now, and although vaccines are being distributed and given, we’re still experiencing challenges brought by the pandemic.
I’m not naming names, but working from home in sweatpants has done a number on some of us, hasn’t it? Sweatpants are great because you can hang around in them all day and they stretch, no matter how much you eat or how little you move. They’re also the enemy – because you can hang around in them all day and they stretch, no matter how much you eat.
One challenge we can address right now: MOVE IT. Exercise is one routine activity that should not be allowed to fall through the cracks. If it has, let’s take a deep breath and pick up wherever we left off. The mental and physical benefits of regular exercise are well known, as is the immune-system-boosting magic of movement.
To help with our move-more mission, we’ve assembled lots of ways to shake up your day, from the tried and true to the (perhaps) new-to-you.
The Tried and True
Running. All you need is a good pair of shoes and comfortable clothes. Newbie runner programs, group training runs and race training programs are offered by many area running shops at no charge. Check out offerings from Red Coyote (redcoyoterunning.com), OK Runner (myokrunner.com) or running clubs like the Oklahoma City Running Club (okcrunning.org).
From Runner’s World: As a beginner, you can spend all week/month/year thinking about how to run and browsing the web for tips … or you can just get out there regularly. Forget about hitting a certain pace … ditch the idea of reaching a certain distance, and instead, just set a time goal … a good beginner running target is to get outside or on a treadmill for 20 minutes, three days a week.
You can run for a minute and then walk for a minute or two (or three), and just repeat for 20 minutes. That, my friends, is running.
Cycling. Whether you choose indoor or outdoor cycling, you’ll get a great workout that’s easy on your joints. This time of year, indoor cycling may be the more comfortable option, and local studios like CycleBar have implemented COVID safety protocols to keep you healthy.
“When you come and ride at CycleBar Chisholm Creek or Norman you get a great cardio and strength workout and also an equally important positive mental reinforcement. All of this together greatly enhances a person’s endorphins, generates a fun “party on a bike” atmosphere, and even helps the immune system too!” says CycleBar owner Pat Fitzgerald.
Yoga. People have been practicing yoga for thousands of years and for good reason. It makes us feel better, it doesn’t require fancy equipment and it can be modified for any experience level. Shannon Stevens, owner of This Land Yoga, says her studio is ready to meet you wherever you are physically, mentally and actually. This Land offers small, in-person classes (masks required before, during and after class), as well as live-stream and on-demand web-based classes. “We offer many choices. Our Vimeo channel is full of all styles and lengths of classes. Meditation, yoga styles including some very active classes and some very restorative classes. Our live-stream classes are 60-75 minutes and class packages for streaming classes are discounted a bit from our regular, in-person classes.” In the works for January, a live-stream yoga beginners’ series, which is also available on demand via the This Land Yoga Vimeo. Visit thislandyoga.com for all the details.
Weight training/strength training. Erika Barenberg, Mind-Body Coach and CEO of 413 Fitness (the413fitness.com), works with clients ranging from everyday folks to elite fitness and bikini athletes. Her fitness journey began with a childhood diagnosis of an autoimmune disease, which requires her to stay active to feel her best. “I love weight training for the feeling of empowerment it brings, as well as having toned muscles,” Barenberg says. “We offer gym training, custom online guides, in-home training and ZOOM.”
Her tips for a newbie:
Go at your own pace.
Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.
Don’t give up when it gets hard – that’s when the magic starts to happen!
Body & Mood Workout
Gardening. Even in winter months, there’s plenty to do in your yard or garden. Bulbs, which bring years of joy, can be planted throughout colder months. This is also the time to dig a new flower bed or vegetable garden, do some shrub pruning, add a raised bed. When you’re done with those, mulch your beds, clean, sharpen and oil your gardening tools and refill your bird feeders. Oklahoma State University, through its Extension program, is a wealth of Oklahoma-specific gardening information. Monthly task lists, tips, recommended varieties…it’s fantastic. (extension.okstate.edu)
Dance. For a near-instant mood boost, turn on some music and shake your groove thang. Dancing, no matter your skill level, is scientifically proven to make us feel happier. What accounts for this? Moving to music awakens the brain’s pleasure circuits. Adult beginner ballet, jazz and tap classes are offered by Oklahoma City University, through its Community Dance Academy (okcu.edu/community-dance-academy/classes). The Yvonne Chouteau School at Oklahoma City Ballet offers adult classes, beginner through advanced, as well as modern dance classes. Visit okcballet.org.
Walking. It’s so simple. Go for a walk. Walk around your neighborhood. Don’t attach anything else to it. You’re not trying to change yourself, there’s no cause to embrace, no goal to crush. Don’t do it with any expectation other than to get some air. As movie-maker Michael Moore says, “My advice: Quit trying to be something you’re not, be happy with the life you’ve been given, and just go for a pleasant walk outside.”
The Adventurous workouts
Parkour. The word parkour comes from the French word, parcours, which literally means, the way through, or the path. As a form of exercise or training, parkour involves moving from one spot to another, using the obstacles or items in your way to maximize your efficiency. So, yes, you can navigate any terrain life throws your way, plus have a great time. In the 405, check out Double Jump Parkour and Ninja Warrior. (facebook.com/DoubleJumpGym)
Aerial/Circus arts workouts. Cirque du Soliel, here you come! What are we talking about? In aerial yoga, students work on balance, posture, strength and yoga poses while supported by strips of (strong) fabric hanging from the ceiling called aerial silks. It’s fun, silly and beautiful. In the 405, aerial arts workouts are the provenance of studios like Aerial Arts Gym of Oklahoma (aerialartsgym.com), Magic Tree Studio (facebook.com/MagicTreeArtists), where you can also learn Poi (fire dancing), hula hoops or even pole dancing, which we have never seen at a circus. But, hey, what do we know.
Fencing. If you’re looking for a sport that you’ll be able to enjoy until your dotage, fencing may well be it. “A good friend of mine fenced until he was 80,” said Brian Brus, an Oklahoma City-based writer with a decades-long fencing career. “Fencing is like playing two games at the same time: tag and keep-away,” he says. It’s a game of poke or be poked, played with three-foot-long stick. “While there are certainly practiced positions and actions involved, personality and subterfuge are also in play,” Bruce says. He began his fencing career in college, with visions of swashbuckling dancing in his head. During these formative fencing years, he met Dave Ribaudo, who is now the owner of City of Thunder Fencing and organizer of the Oklahoma City Fencers Club. Ribaudo’s fencing studio offers a sweet deal for new fencers or the fencing-curious. A one-hour introductory class is just $25. Visit cityofthunderfencing.com/programs to learn more.