Let’s get physical

With regional competition Friday and Nationals on March 28-29, two young talents have helped propel the UW-Eau Claire gymnastics team to a 17-11 overall record and a second place finish at the WIAC Championships.

Story by Spenser Bickett

Group fitness classes

If you’re looking for a social, group-oriented workout, University Recreation and Sport Facilities offer free group exercise classes during the week.  With everything from yoga to water aerobics to kickboxing, as well as cycling, there is a class for everyone.

Brittany Matti began teaching URSF classes in June 2011. She said group fitness classes offer students the opportunity to socialize as well as relieve stress and experience different types of fitness.

Matti said that group fitness can help keep students motivated, as well as learn things to incorporate into their own workouts.

“A lot of students have made comments that when it’s led, they push themselves a little bit harder,” Matti said.

For students trying to get ready for beach season, Matti said the variety of classes offered can help them achieve their goals.

“You can participate in classes that are cardio based, strength based,” she said. “If you’re trying to work on elongating and stretching, we’ve got yoga. There’s all sorts of classes for any ability.”

Each class caters to students of any fitness level, which Matti said is a result of instructors modifying exercises to meet each student’s level.

Matti said that her favorite class is indoor cycling, which has the added benefit of producing electricity for the university.

“As you cycle, you’re actually creating energy that’s being put back in the university’s power grid,” Matti said.  “So it’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while also getting a really great workout.”

Students who are interested in group fitness classes offered by URSF can find more info at http://www.uwec.edu/Recreation/activities/groupexercise/.

Cardio workouts

One of the most beneficial workouts you can do if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands is a cardio workout.  Elevating your heart rate for an extended period of time with this workout strengthens your heart and lungs, burns calories and helps you lose weight, according to LiveStrong.com. This can be anything from fast walking to swimming laps in a pool.

The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 20 minutes of vigorous activity three times a week or 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week.  If you haven’t been exercising, however, you should work up to these points so you don’t hurt yourself by starting an intense routine before your body is ready.

My go-to cardio workout is running, which is one of the lowest-cost cardio workouts.  All you need is a good pair of running shoes and a place to run, which can be anywhere outdoors now that it’s starting to get warmer, or on McPhee’s indoor track.

Strength exercises

As far as strength exercises go, there’s a huge variety to what you can do.  You can join a gym, but machines and weights can be intimidating if you’re not used to them.  Here’s a simple group of exercises you can do that don’t require any equipment other than your own body.  You don’t even need weights or dumbbells!

Sit-ups are a great way to strengthen your core, providing numerous benefits including increased stability and balance, according to LiveStrong.com.  Start by lying with your back on the ground and your feet planted, so your knees are in the air.  You can put your hands however you like, but I like to cross them on my chest.  Raise your torso up until your arms touch your legs, then lower yourself back down.