Friday, March 28, 2008


By Courtney Westlake

The calming, soothing music plays while a soft voice instructs participants to breathe and stretch, focusing on specific muscle groups and positions.

While yoga may seem like it might put you to sleep, it is a great workout for the different muscle groups in your body. Yoga, which originated in India, is now considered a form of exercise and deals with various postures and poses to increase balance and flexibility and decrease stress and tension in the body.

The TRAC offers a class called Yoga for Relaxation. It is led by an instructor and offered on Thursdays from 9 to 10 p.m. and Fridays from 5:10 to 6:10 p.m.

"Yoga releases stress; that's why the general population usually participates in a yoga class," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC. "Yoga helps channel energy to help strengthen and lengthen your body. It's kind of a stretching class, but there is a lot of controlled breathing when you are holding different poses."

Performing yoga regularly has a lot of benefits for both your physical health and mental health, Jillson said.

"It does help with muscle tone, it decreases stress and it helps to balance your body because some of the poses are difficult, and they take a lot of focus and concentration to hold the pose for 10,20 30 seconds," Jillson said. "There is a lot of control and focus with holding and releasing your breath."

While breathing and stretching are major aspects of yoga, the exercise also works all different kinds of muscle groups.

"You're working your core a lot, which is your abdominals and your lower back muscles," Jillson said. "But some of the poses, when you're holding them, your muscles in your legs being contracted, and you're reaching through your fingertips. So that way, you're using all your energy to hold that pose, so all of the muscles in your body are being worked."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wacky Wednesdays

By Courtney Westlake


From a miniature putt-putt golf challenge to a 90's trivia contest to a Hershey's kiss count competition, Wacky Wednesdays are getting the campus community involved in all kinds of fun and exciting activities.

Wacky Wednesday is a series of unusual events designed to allow people to participate in recreational sports activites who may not feel they have the time or ability to participate in traditional sports, said Lance Ennen, the coordinator of Wacky Wednesday.

"So it gives people an alternative to participate in activities without having to be an 'athlete'," he said.

The events are held every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A male and female winner will be declared each week for the rest of the semester, with that winner receiving a certificate for a free fitness assessment at the TRAC.

"The locations of Wacky Wednesday activities vary," Ennen said. "Events have been held in the TRAC Atrium, the Food Emporium and will soon be held on the Quad as the weather gets nicer."

Wacky Wednesday came about when Ennen learned that JT Timmons, director of recreational sports, came from recreation program that offered Wacky Wednesday. Ennen thought it was great idea, so "I took the ball and ran with it," he said.

Wacky Wednesdays are a great way to add a little variety into your schedule, said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC.

"There are some good activities to work different muscles in your body, and it's a different atmosphere," she said.

Many of the activities done at Wacky Wedneday events are things not typically done for exercise - such as limbo - but may be something you did as a child.

"It's fun; it's energetic," Jillson said. "Adding different exercises like jump rope, limbo or hula hoop - those are fun and encourage more enthusiasm and energy."

And not all of the activities are physical; some of them, like the kiss count or trivia competitions, involve mental strength as well. Regardless of the event, though, Ennen said the turnout so far has been really good.

"We had an upwards of 60 participants in the Valentine's week kiss count event," he said. "We've had some pretty good numbers with it; I've been happy with the turnout."

For more information on upcoming Wacky Wednesday events, go here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Put Some Spring in Your Step!

By Courtney Westlake


This week marks the first official day of spring, bringing warmer weather that offers the perfect excuse to get active or to throw a little mix into your workout.

"The seasons are changing, the weather is getting nicer and it's the perfect opportunity to take your exercises outside or change up your routine altogether," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs for the TRAC.

Jillson encouraged anyone interested to meet with personal trainer at the TRAC who can help you mix up routine or move past a plateau in your workout routine.

And with the weather moving into the higher temperatures soon, there are many exercises you can now do outside in the fresh air.

"You can always go for walk or run," Jillson said. "Also try doing short bursts of energy like jumping jacks, squats or wall sits. Short bursts of energy with a nice walk helps you throw a little pep into it. Walk a little faster than the leisurely stroll and be sure to pump your arms."

The TRAC is also offering several new classes starting today, March 16. Group fitness classes that will be offered include BodyWorks, which is a sculpting class, Pilates, Kick Mix, yoga and more. To check out the group fitness schedule, click here.

The TRAC also has a brand-new class called P90X, or Power90Extreme. The TRAC is using the program from Beach Body Web site; the cost is $10 and you can register at the TRAC front desk or recreation office, Jillson said.

"This is for that person who needs new routine or workout," Jillson said. "We'll use dumbells and resistance bands. It's high-energy; it's a lifting class, but it's pretty intense."

Additionally, a 5K training class has just started, although the class is still accepting participants this week. With weather permitting, the class will often be held outside.

"We are going to start training for a 5K so if you're new to running or if you've always wanted to be a runner but don't know where to start, this is the perfect class to get you into a running routine," Jillson said.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Staying Hydrated

By Courtney Westlake


For maximum benefit, the human body needs to be well hydrated each day. While beverages such as juices or sodas can provide fluids for the body, the best choice is water.

“The body is made up of 60 to 70 percent water,” said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC. “Your body is continually losing fluid, so we need to replenish that.”

Muscle itself is made up of 70 to 75 percent water, so for those that have a lot of muscle on the body, make sure to always remain very hydrated, Jillson recommended.

“Water also helps with healthy skin, hair and your general wellbeing,” she said. “You'll really start to feel better if you stay hydrated. It’s amazing what it can do for you.”

While dehydration most often occurs during the hot and humid summer months, it can also happen during the wintertime.

Symptoms of dehydration include weakness or fatigue, dry skin, dry mouth, darker-colored urine and, most obvious, thirst. When you start to feel dehydrated, it is extremely important to consume water or drinks like Gatorade, Powerade or even Pedialyte to replenish the body’s electrolytes needed for hydration.

Water is the best choice of liquids because it has no calories, no additives and usually nothing you might have to worry about ingesting into your body, unlike soda, sports drinks and other beverages, which have additives and sugars, Jillson said. There is room for drinks like soda or alcoholic beverages within a healthy lifestyle, but in moderation.

Alcoholic drinks can contain seven to eight calories per gram, which is more calories than the same amount of carbohydrates or protein, so you’re drinking more calories than you would be taking in by eating.

Even drinks such as the calorie-free diet soda still need to be consumed in moderation, especially because of the artificial sweeteners, for which there isn’t much research about the effect on the body, Jillson said.

“If you’re really conscious about staying healthy and working out, make sure to drink more water than other drinks,” Jillson said. “The average person needs to get eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Someone who works out a little harder or loses fluid more regularly needs to consume at least 10 eight-0unce glasses of water a day. So you should be getting between 64 and 80 ounces of water daily.”