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Beyond the Gym

Beyond the Gym


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I love, love, love pumping heavy metal! It gives me a high like no other. I love working hard, getting stronger and reaching new personal bests. I love the results I see in the mirror. However, all work and no play can turn me into a boring gym rat. I have to remember that fitness happens outside the gym, too!

The concept of cross-training was popular a few years ago. This is the idea of mixing up your training to avoid injury, challenge the mind and body, and keep from getting bored with your routine. I think that stepping outside our our usual routine can remind us how much fun it is just to be active!

I work out solo in the gym, so too much time in the weight room can leave me isolated. I encourage my kids to do bodyweight exercises, but it is healthier for them at this point to get their exercise from sports and games.

Here are a few things I've done recently to put my muscles to good use and have active fun with friends and family:

Dancing! I took dance classes weekly from the ages of 5 to 15, but got away from it. Last year for Christmas my husband signed us up for dance lessons. We had a lot of fun learning the cha cha and the West Coast swing! I hung a disco ball in my family room to remind me to indulge in my dancing hobby and sometimes I crank up the iTunes with the kids and break out into a spontaneous hustle.

Playtime! Who says that trampolines and hula hoops are just for kids? I couldn't believe how breathless I got jumping up and down on our giant trampoline. I learned a few tricks from my kids, too. My calves were killing me the next day. My sister-in-law lost 100 lbs a couple of years ago. Her secret? In addition to cutting calories - up to two hours of hula hooping per day! I don't have that kind of stamina yet, but it was fun to try.

GirlFight! I signed up for a trial week at a local all-female martial arts studio. My daughter and I took boxing, muay thai and self-defense classes. It was fun to punch, kick and learn that I was pretty good at knocking someone down as a result of my strength. What a workout!

Fun Run! I make a point to enter local 5k races from time to time. These usually raise money for a charity and I get to do them with family and friends. Not everyone wants to meet me in the gym for an intense workout, but it is pretty easy to convince people to come out for a 3 mile jog, especially if there is a t-shirt and free bagel at the end of it.

Climbing! This one was not my idea. A friend convinced me to go to an indoor rockwall gym. It was definitely a challenge, but I couldn't go very high without getting all sweaty-palmed. This is something that kids are pretty good at, the little monkeys.

Boating! Three years' worth of lateral raises did not prepare me for the rigors of kayaking. Again - fun with the kids, and even more fun if they actually help paddle!

Skating! I'll admit that I don't actually do this because of my fear of falling down. But it's on my bucket list. In the next year I plan to get out on the ice with my kids. I have to say that every time I bike by rollerblading lady on my way to the gym, I get a little envious. She rollerblades around a lake I pass by with her headphones on. She always looks like she is having so much fun dancing on her blades and weaving around.

These are just some suggestions. There are many others that I am sure you athletes enjoy - tennis, soccer, basketball, flag football.

Every week I try to make a point to take a break from my "training schedule" and just have fun!

Author: Elaine Morales

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