5 posts categorized "Exercise"

06/12/2010

Learning To Fly

When I was a child, I became enraptured with a very special book called ''The Fledgling'', by Jane Langton. The-Fledgling It is the amazing story of a young girl who is obsessed with flying, and develops a peculiar relationship with a Canadian Goose she calls 'The Goose Prince.' The Goose Prince visits Georgie, the girl, each night at her bedroom window and takes her for secret rides atop his back, soaring over the countryside. I loved this book so much as a kid that I stole it from my school's library (sorry, PHS), and continue to read it regularly even as an adult, as it gives credibility to the impossible becoming possible.

In a workshop at Yoga State yesterday evening, the impossible became a reality as a small group of curious seekers learned how to fly.

Continue reading "Learning To Fly" »

06/04/2010

Rock On in Grand Ledge's Oak Park

 When Jake announced to me that he was going to try rock climbing, I snorted and made some sarcastic comment about the availability of climb-able rocks in our area. Now, 4 years later, I still kick myself for not having any faith in him or this incredible sport. True, Michigan has less natural rock than say, Colorado or California, but there are still little areas around the state that keep its climbers challenged and more than satisfied.                                                              GL in early Fall      

If you don't know, Grand Ledge is about 20 minutes due west of Lansing, and it hosts the Lower Peninsula's only legal, naturally-formed rock climbing area. If you have ever used the trail system from Grand Ledge's Island Park to Fitzgerald Park, you might have looked across the Grand River to see the  area's climbing 'regulars' hanging out and scaling the 30+ feet of sandstone with enough ropes, harnesses, and gear to make any bondage fan jealous. On a weekend day during the better weather months, and even sometimes on warmer winter days, the area can get happily crowded as the regulars, MSU's Outdoors Club, and unsuspecting passer-by all mix for a raucous good time. The area, located officially within the city's Oak Park, is meticulously maintained by a small-but-mighty group of dedicated volunteers who update the paths and stairways leading to the river's edge, clean up debris and trash, operate a lost-and-found for left-behind gear, and inform newbies of the local etiquette if they step out of line.

Besides being an awesome way to get active, build strength, and boost confidence, climbing The_Rock_Warriors_Waydoes just as much for the psyche and state of mind as it does for the physical body. In 'The Rock Warrior's Way', a highly utilized method of 'mental training' provides focus and obstacle identification as climbers encounter challenges, both on the rock and off. The book, originally released in 2003, has since been adopted by businesses, parents, teachers, and more as a positive example of overcoming obstacles that stand in the way of learning and growth.

 Aside from 'the Ledges', as many locals refer to the climbing in Oak Park, options can be a little slim here in the Lansing area. There's a huge gym, Planet Rock, in Ann Arbor, which is Jakes meets lava flows in Marquette great for the first-time beginner as they offer classes on safety and basics. There is also word on the street that MSU may soon build their own climbing wall, but the project is just beginning to gain steam. You can support it by visiting the Outdoors Club's page. If you want to travel a bit, our Upper Peninsula's Marquette is well worth the long drive as you'll be rewarded with endless sweeps of Lake Superior and cool lava-flow basalt to get your hands on. A great resource for climbing anywhere can be found at Rock Climbing.com, although the pages load slow and can be frustrating if you aren't already familiar with the state you're searching in.

checking out the competition in Texas Since he started climbing, Jake has traveled to Colorado, Texas, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin,  and the UP, but that pales in comparison to some of his climbing buddies' adventures. If mileage and scenery sound like a cool way to spend your weekends, climbing can offer it. But I urge you to spend a crisp fall afternoon in GL before you pack your camping gear, when the leaves are brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds, the river sparkles in the late sun, and the clean air fills your lungs and body with a sense of vitality and joy. Or maybe visit on an early May morning, when the geese have lines of fuzzy goslings swimming behind them, the menagerie of bird calls drowns ouBeginner's route
 'Mossy Gully' in GLt most conversation, and you can literally see the Earth waking up as green shoots push up through the ground and wildflowers begin to bloom. My favorite time in GL  is early summer mornings, when only the most dedicated 'die hards' get up to be at the crag by 8am. It's so quiet you can hear echoes from a mile away, the air is still, and you can grab a drink at the crystal-clear, rock-fed spring, savoring the sweetest water you've ever tasted. You just might stuff that camping gear back in the attic or basement for another season.

06/01/2010

Sharing the Road

Share-the-road   Last week I posted about biking the Lansing River Trail;  today I want to share some essential guidelines for road biking and commuting. Most of my info comes from a handy little pocket guide the League of Michigan Bicyclists puts out and can be picked up in local businesses around town. They have a sweet website with so much stuff about biking it will have you itching to get out on your hog and do a little touring. But like any other sport, there are rules in place that need to be taken very seriously, so you can keep yourself and others safe, and do your part to raise awareness.

If you are riding a bicycle, you are operating a vehicle, and are required by law to follow the same rules as anything motorized. This means you ride with traffic, stop at stop signs, slow down at yellow lights, and, because you are the slower- moving vehicle in most cases, stay to the right to allow traffic to pass you on the left. Many novice riders and many more motorists believe the sidewalk is where cyclists are supposed to ride: quite the contrary. Would you drive your car on a sidewalk? Biking in the right lane, on the street, with your tires where the right wheel of a car would normally rest is the safest and most visible place to ride. Don't forget to signal to traffic, such as when turning. There are still official hand signals that some people recognize, but in my experience, most motorists do not understand these. I usually wave my arm over my head and then point in the direction I am turning- this seems to be effective in getting a driver's attention and showing your intentions at the same time.

Please wear a helmet, it is good for your brain. No one is going to make you do it, but consider dropping the grudge against Big Brother and use some common sense. A properly-fitted helmet can mean the difference between being injured or being killed if there is an accident. Michigan has an annual ride, The Ride of Silence, that commemorates cyclists who lost their lives in biking accidents, raises cycling awareness, and encourages all vehicles to share the road. The best way to educate motorists on sharing the road with you is to get your facts straight and to bike courteously, safely, and with respect.

Try to maintain calm, even if a motorist decides you are the reason they are having a bad day or life. Share-the-road-Marin Do your best to get away from them by taking a different route or street, even if you only go a few blocks and turn back around. Heck, pull into a yard and act like you're going up to your front door if it sends them packing. Getting their license plate number is key- I was assaulted on my bike few years ago, and was so freaked out by the crazies in the SUV that I couldn't remember the plate correctly. If you are injured or if your bike gets damaged, the plate number will be the only way the police can track down the antagonists. 

Just get out there and do it! I rode leisurely and bike-commuted for years before I got up the nerve to join an official biking event. All that gear, the fancy jerseys, and the mileage that gets tossed around can be intimidating to newer riders, but don't let that discourage you! If you love to ride, get out there! Our area has some rural roads that are beautiful, smooth, and less-traveled to get you comfortable with any distance, and there are local rides every weekend of the entire summer. What part of the state do you want to see? Everything form the coastlines to the UP to the Mackinac Bridge are included, and there are rides for any level, including kids and families. Get hooked up with the LMB or the TCBA to get inspired and get riding.

05/25/2010

"Happy Hour" on the Lansing River Trail

    Monday I took a much-needed and long- awaited ride on my mountain bike on one of Lansing's most under- appreciated gems: the Lansing River Trail. If for some silly reason you have never utilized this incredible asset of our city, the Trail has nearly 13 miles of paved trail that stretches from Old Town to MSU campus to Frandor to Jolly Road. It passes through numerous parks such as Adado Riverfront, Hawk Island, Potter Park Zoo, and Scott's Woods. It is perfect for mountain biking, roller-blading, jogging, strollers, kids, dog walking, skipping, bird watching, and being generally immersed in nature when we get a little claustrophobic in the city.

    Wild ColumbineThis time of year is great on the Trail, because all along the densely-wooded areas, there are clumps of wildflowers blooming everywhere. If you peek into the depths of the greenery, you can see the fragrant blooms as far as your sight can carry.  (By the way, if you can identify these white and violet flowers, please contact me- my guides have failed to reveal their identity!) I caught an immensely beautiful bunch of Wild Columbine near the intersection between LCC's leg of the trail and the Zoo's leg, and little critters like black and red squirrels, wild rabbits, and Robins galore scurried about their woodland business gathering, chattering, and basking in the sun. I'll never forget an early morning ride about 4 years ago when I saw an elusive Mink near Moore's river Park, and any evening near the river there, you can watch hundreds of native Brown Bats scooping up mosquitoes at dusk- a truly awesome experience that I recommend to anyone with a desire to learn about   these amazing, misunderstood creatures. 

                                                                        Michigan Mink
       Near Hawk Island, I came across the marked points of distance for the annual Hawk Island Triathlon this weekend- in chalk, sayings such as 'Finish Strong', 'You Can Do It!', and 'Almost There!' urge the participants to keep going. I enjoyed a little make-believe myself, and imagined I was nearing a finish line of my own: setting small goals for yourself as you recover from illness, surgery, or just getting started on a new commitment to health can be incredibly fulfilling as you realize the progress you have made retrospectively. For me, I considered the distance I had come since my transplant last fall, and my pulse quickened a bit as I even chanced a bit of consideration towards training for the Hawk Island Tri next summer. 

    On my way home, as I pedaled a little slower to take in the smell of fresh-cut grass, late-blooming Lilacs, and dense undergrowth along the river's edge, I looked up just in time to catch a glimpse of a billboard peeking out from behind some trees. "Clara's Happy Hour, 3-5", it read. I glanced at my watch, feeling a bit sorry for any schmuck who was sitting in air conditioning at a greasy bar on this gorgeous afternoon. I took in a deep breath of fresh air as I looked out across the swollen river surrounded by vivid green, and tiny fluffy seed pods floated lazily around me. I felt joyful, fulfilled. Happy Hour, indeed.

05/21/2010

There's Always Time to Get Back to Good

    When I was a kid, I thought 5 am was a mysterious time period that only Santa Claus and my parents existed inside of. I can tell you from first-hand experience, however, that as I dragged myself out of bed Thursday morning at 5 am to head to the gym, this time period does exist.

    So what might possess a person to get up at this absurd hour and go- gasp- exercise? Well, for me, it's a few reasons, including the fact that I have spent the last 6 years of my life on dialysis or  more recently, recovering from a kidney transplant. This is the first time in years I have had enough energy to be active, plus it just makes me feel good!

    There's nothing mysterious about the links between exercise and depression, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes, all of which are, unfortunately, incredibly common in our nation. You could find an extensive canon of information on-line, in any health magazine, or in a variety of periodicals that supports the idea that moving around regularly can make you healthy. If for some reason you want/need some type of proof, you can check out the Mayo Clinic's page on the subject. The Mayo Clinic is renown throughout our country as a health care facility that specializes in complex illnesses and diseases- in layman terms, they know their sh*t.

    Sometimes, however, there can be a lot of of what seem like obstacles to keep us from either starting or sticking to a regular exercise regimen, including some very real issues like lack of funds for a gym membership, special health needs (like dialysis or wheelchairs), or flat out lack of motivation. So I've included a list of some helpful links, ideas, and sites to get help with moving your body around and get back to feeling good; not just physically, but mentally and spiritually, too. 

YMCA- locations all over the Lansing area, they offer scholarships, have dirt- cheap and free classes for ALL levels and interests, have daycare, and the exercise equipment, pool, and classrooms are all handicap-accessible.

Mayo Clinic- tons of info about nutrition, men's and women's health, pregnancy and post- part-um care, recipes, and more.

Free Yoga- classes all over the city, for any level (this means beginners, too!) in any style you could ask for, taught by seasoned teachers with your safety as their priority, and experience with all types of special cases.

Lansing Parks and Rec/ E. Lansing Parks and Rec- find out about community classes and get maps and info on our beautiful, local parks, trails, and pools. Everything featured on this site is accessible.

Beal Botanical Garden- spend some time here walking, meditating, contemplating near the pond, and just taking in the beauty of flowers, trees, and more- plus it's free, and accessible.

LCC Japanese Garden- park nearby and walk to this hidden tranquil spot on LCC's campus. Watch the Coi fish, get inspired under the waterfall, and breathe the scent of roses and other perennials. It is also free and accessible.

Good Form Running- a free clinic held twice a week at Playmaker's in East Lansing, this class is aimed at helping all levels of runners run safer and more efficiently. 

Community Gardens- Gardening is a fabulous way to get outside in the sun and fresh air, burn some calories, and get involved with your community while learning a lot about where your food comes from. It is essential in creating a bond between us and our sustenance. Check out my fellow blogger's page on Dig In to learn more. Most gardens are accessible, and many are free to join.

Meditation- proven to reduce stress and foster an overall sense of well-being, meditation is offered all over the Lansing area in free classes and seminars for the practiced or the curious seeker. Also free classes available at Heartdance on Michigan Ave. on Tuesday nights.

Anna Kaschner

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