Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Strength Training

By Courtney Westlake


Although lifting weights was long been associated with body building or bulky muscles, it has now become widely-recognized that strength training reaps numerous benefits for people of all ages and sizes.

"It's going to help with functional capacity and strength, with the aging process, with bone density - building stronger bones," said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC. "And it will help with your metabolic rate. You burn more calories (not just exercising but sitting still as well) because you have muscle in your body."

Strength training is defined as putting resistant against your muscles. Also called resistance training, strength training uses weights like dumbbells, "selectorized" machines where you select your own weight, plate-loaded machines and resistance tubing. Some group exercise classes where you are putting resistance against your muscles are also a version of strength training, Jillson said.

For those new to strength training, the TRAC now has personal trainers available to assist gym-goers with aspects of healthy living, which also includes strength training. A "Getting Started" package begins at $55, Jillson said, and a trainer can instruct you on how many repetitions and sets to do when strength training.

Another great way to become involved with strength training is through an instructional class that will be offered called Strength Training 101. The class starts Tuesday, February 5 and runs for four weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m. in the multi-purpose room and throughout the TRAC.

"They're going to learn a variety of different exercises, the principles behind strength training and why we should do it," Jillson said. "Participants will able to take some really good workouts from the class."

Working on the core muscle groups in the body can be a good way to get started, Jillson said, and then you can broaden your focus on smaller muscle groups.

"Concentrating on large muscle groups is very beneficial, which includes your quadriceps, biceps, triceps and other muscle groups people are familiar with," she said. "You'll have more improvements if you work every muscle in the body."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Year, New You

By Courtney Westlake

The month of January and the start of a new semester is the perfect time to revamp your approach to health and wellness. With the opening of the Recreation and Athletic Center, or TRAC, on UIS' campus last semester, students, staff and faculty now have access to a fabulous resource to kick their exercise and healthy living routines into gear.

The amenities of the TRAC are outstanding, and new features have even been added this semester, said Amanda Jillson, assistant director of fitness and instructional programs at the TRAC.

One of the first areas guests notice in the TRAC when walking in is called "Fitness Area One," Jillson said. This workout room is equipped with treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, free weights, a cable cross-over, hammer-strength equipment and much more.

"Hammer-strength equpiment is plate-loaded, so you put your own weight on there," Jillson said. "And we have one for each muscle group."

The second level of the TRAC is called the mezzanine level and contains a 3-lane track on which 12 laps equals one mile. There are also other cardiovascular machines and an "abdominal area" with exercise balls and other equipment that make up Fitness Areas Two and Three.

The TRAC offers personal training, fitness assessments and nutrition planning as well as a variety of group fitness classes - up to six per day - including Yoga, Core Crazy, 6-Pack Attack and Circuit Express.

"We've had really great success with them so far this semester, and I hope we keep having a great turnout," Jillson said. "They're free to rec center members, so you don't have to pre-register for the class you want to take. You can just drop in."

The fitness room, where most of the group fitness classes take place, is located on the main level near Fitness Area One. Two racquetball courts are down the hall from the fitness room, and they can also be converted into squash courts, Jillson said.

The performance arena at the TRAC is home to the UIS Prairie Stars basketball and volleyball teams, but at least one of the courts is always open for recreational use, Jillson said. Upon asking the front desk, the court can be converted to a volleyball court, badminton or pickle ball court.

"We have some really great things to offer here at the TRAC for recreation," Jillson said.