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Maintaining fitness with the change of seasons

ADAM BOFFEYsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk
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It’s spring again and in the fitness world, that makes it time for people to re-awaken their bodies after a long winter.Many Summit County citizens are active on a year-round basis, but even so, spring and summer sports often require different muscles groups and endurance levels than winter sports. “This is the time of year to start cross-training,” exercise physiologist and fitness instructor Juli Rathke said. “Especially if you didn’t do it during the winter.”Rathke, who has worked at the Breck Rec Center for seven years, said the facility often receives new visitors during the spring and fall months.”We’re seeing a lot of new faces in the shoulder seasons,” she said. “Some people are more summer athletes, some people are more winter athletes, but come mud season on either end of the calendar, you see different people in here trying to accomplish something.”Scott Ferguson, Breck Rec’s fitness and life activities supervisor, advocates a diversified approach to spring fitness.”The variety of activities we can do this time of year gives us a whole new charge,” Ferguson said. “Typically our worlds open up in the spring and summertime.”

Rathke and Ferguson offered a few tips on how to usher in spring from a fitness perspective. 1. Engage in yoga and Pilates. According to Ferguson, these cross training activities allow people to prepare for a variety of new body movements and athletic skills required for spring activities.”A lot of people’s bodies behave differently in the winter then they do in the summer,” he said. “yoga and Pilates help people open their mind and body flows.”Rathke echoed the importance of yoga.”I’m a huge proponent of (yoga),” she said. “When I say cross-training, I’m talking about the whole body from head to toe. But you also have to address the mind because an athlete is only as strong as their head game.” 2. Perform a body check. Upon re-engaging various muscle groups that may be slightly dormant, it’s important to recognize any body parts that may be stiff or worn out.

“If someone has tired knees after ski season, they should acknowledge that before going on some long, epic bike ride,” Ferguson said. “People have a tendency to want to go big their first day back at something, but there’s no need to hurry. Spring is a transition time and people should use it as such.”Differentiating between legitimate injuries and what Ferguson calls “naggers,” is key when it comes to assessing body pain. Injuries may require medical advice and treatment, whereas “naggers” can be addressed with regular maintenance.”With nagging pains, you need to think of the long term,” he said. “It takes warming it up, stretching and working on range of motion. When we’re younger we don’t think about that stuff – we just jump from one thing another. But our working parts do get worn out over time.”3. Set the table. Table setting involves building strength and flexibility in joints throughout the body. This injury-preventing task can be accomplished by stretching with medicine balls, fitness balls and elastic bands.Rathke stresses the importance of using functional fitness to build core strength.”Functional fitness activities work multiple muscle groups within the body,” she said. “Lunges, push-ups, pull-ups and squats are all good. Adding functionality to it would be doing squats outside on a log or lunges around a track to add the element of balance.”

Core strength is a key goal of functional fitness. Although many skiers gain sport-specific strength during the winter, it may come at the cost of reduced muscle endurance, according to Rathke.”When you’re rolling a kayak you need to have awesome core strength,” she said. “And when you’re riding a mountain bike on real technical terrain, you’re only as stable on your bike as you are strong in your core.”4. Mix things up. Changing routines is another one of Ferguson’s recommendations. “Whatever your workout is, shake it up and refresh it,” he said. “If you’re always in the weight room, maybe try a class you’ve never done before. It’s always good to take on a challenge that you’ve either denied yourself or said you would never do when it came to exercise.”Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13631, or at aboffey@summitdaily.com.


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