Archive for March, 2010

Bring circuit training up a notch

One way to get a great workout is by going to an exercise class. Having a set class to go to regularly gives you less excuse to skip. Having a group of people doing it along with you gives motivation. A good fitness instructor pushes you to work harder.

I spoke with Sarah F., a certified fitness instructor for LA Fitness, about a specific type of fitness class called “high intensity interval circuit training.”

What is high intensity interval circuit training?

It combines aerobics and weight training into one class. It’s all mixed up together and not blocked into segments.

What makes high intensity interval circuit training better than a normal aerobics class?

It’s one of best options if you’re crunched on time. The cardiovascular part is extremely important for most health issues, but you also get weight training, which helps prevent osteoporosis. Weight training also speeds up your metabolism and supports and protects your bones and joints. Plus, it helps you look better, because, well, everyone looks better with muscles.

What is an example of this?

One of the classes I teach is called Club Box, which gives you a lot of muscle endurance and muscle definition. It combines boxing and athletic training drills. One lady in my class had a calorie counter, and during one of my not-as-intense classes, she burned 500 calories.

What makes it so hard?

It’s really intense because there’s so much emphasis on cardio, so even a regular pushup is difficult in the middle of a really intense boxing session. And if you travel the pushups, it makes it so much harder than what you’d expect a normal pushup to be. Putting it in the middle of such high-intensity cardio intervals actually makes the weight training a lot harder to do. You get a lot more benefits from it, even though they’re simple basic moves like squats and pushups.

What areas of your body does the workout focus on?

Things like squats and lunges are mostly for the lower body, but if you add in the boxing and pushups, it really works your upper body. This includes your back, biceps, chest and shoulders. It benefits your core too, and it will help your balance. It’s pretty much an all-inclusive workout.

What would you tell someone who wants to try a high-intensity interval circuit training class?

If you’re just starting out, definitely start at your own pace. You have to get rid of your ego, because it WILL kick your butt. I kind of had an ego when I took my first Club Box class. At the end of it I realized, “I can’t even walk!” It’s definitely something to build up to. Some people do a lot of modified moves, and some people come in and add power moves to everything I do. Everyone gets a great workout at their own level.

For more information, you can find a complete list of LA Fitness classes on the LA Fitness Web site.


Paralympic Experience

As I said in my last post, I’m going to talk about the Paralympic Experience.

The Paralympic Experience is a one day event on April 17th for “citizens with disabilities to learn and participate in several water-based sports, adaptive tennis and other activities.”  Sponsored by the Paralympics Sport Club and the US Olympic‐Paralympic Committee, this free event teaches disabled Austinites to basics of water-sports such as paddling a kayak or canoe, kayak polo, and adaptive and wheelchair tennis.

In addition to learning and practicing the sports, a member of the Paralympic National Rowing Team will speak during lunch, and there will be a rowing competition in the afternoon.

The day ends with another great event, Wounded Warriors family paddle. Wounded Warriors Rowing is a program where coaches of the Texas Rowing Center give free lessons to wounded veterans and their families every other Friday afternoon.

The Texas Rowing Center offers a myriad of other Adaptive Programs for the disabled. In addition to Wounded Warrior, they also have after school programs for people with sensory and cognitive disabilities. Because they are free for participants, the program is sustained with city subsides and donations. You can donate to the program on the website (scroll to the bottom) or by mailing a check made out to Texas Rowing Foundation to 1541 Caesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78703

I am going to try and speak with some people involved with the Texas Rowing Center sometime before the event in mid-April, and I will report on it once I do.

Biking to Work: Pt. II

In a previous post, I talked about the benefits of riding your bike to work/school as well as how to plan your route. However, an equally important aspect of being a cyclist is what to do with your bike once you reach your destination (especially if you’re commuting to campus).

Bike theft is big problem on the University of Texas campus (and in Austin in general, as the City is one of the worst when it comes to two-wheel thievery).

Don't end up like this guy

Luckily, the University offers some great tools to help you combat bike theft. Aside from registering your bike with Parking & Transportation Services, and using a high-grade lock, you can also rent a bicycle locker on campus if you so desire that level of security.

Bike lockers are a great way to store your ride while on campus

Bike lockers are available at the Brazos, Guadalupe, Manor, San Antonio, San Jacinto, Speedway and Trinity garages. It costs $50 per year to rent a locker, plus a $50 deposit for a key that you’ll get back at the end of your lease. If you’d like to get a locker or find out more, head over to the PTS main office at the Trinity Garage (@ the corner of Trinity and MLK) or simply email

Don’t forget that you can stop by ANY University garage and use a bike pump, free of charge— simply inquire at a garage’s teller window for one. There is ample space to ride and lock-up your bike around campus, so just remember to be smart and exercise good judgement when using and parking your ride.

Will out!

Hidden Gem: Pine Forest G.C.

The par 3 12th is the second of three scenic downhill par 3's on the course. The yardage says 180 yds., but the elevation will dramatically affect which club you decide to use.

It’s not very often you find a challenging course with jaw-dropping views and rates as low, or lower, than regular municipal courses.

Pine Forest is that golf course.

If you have the time to drive 45 mins. to Bastrop, your reward is well worth it. The course has a nice mixture of holes that are tucked inside a neighborhood, and others that make you feel like your camping in the forest along the Colorado River.

What makes this course so special is the elevation changes. On three separate occasions throughout your round, you’ll find yourself standing on a tee-box, staring hundreds of feet down to a green carved out of the woods. As you look out on the horizon, the abundance of trees and wildlife give the course a real adventurous feel.

Not all of the tee boxes are from an elevated position. On #6 you not only have to clear the gorge off the tee, but also reach a fairway that's much higher than your current position on the tee.

The layout itself is not tremendously long, on 6,569 yds. from the blues, but the elevation changes make things interesting especially if your playing the course in a strong wind. The three, downhill par 3’s are extremely fun to play and give you and the members of your group three different opportunities for closest to the pin bragging rights.

Having played this course twice, I would expect to pay $50-75 for a course of this caliber. Discount rates for Pine Forest are frequently offered on the service golf512, discussed in an earlier post. However, even without discounts, the normal greens fees hover around $20 which is a steel for what you get.

#16 is your last chance to stick one close on a downhill par 3. With only two holes remaining, this hole could determine the outcome of many friendly matches.

If you’re looking for a new, exciting, beautiful course to play and you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to do it, give Pine Forest a shot. Take a break from your normal, local municipal course tour and reward yourself with a round you won’t forget, even if you’d like to forget your score.

Texas Relays and the Black Cultural and Health Festival

With the bipolar weather of this past March (it snowed during Spring Break), and the assuredly unbipolar weather we can expect from a Texas summer, April will possibly be the only month until October with pleasant weather from beginning to end. With this in mind, here are some things to mark on your calendar for the month of April in Austin.

April Third and Fourth: Texas Relays and the Black Cultural and Health Festival
Texas Relays is an 83 year old invitational track meet for high school, collegiate, and professional athletes. An estimated 50,000+ spectators and athletes are expected descend upon Austin next week to take part in the event. While I realize our readers will probably not participate in the competition, it will be a great way for recreational runners to see the pros.

The Black Cultural and Health Festival is intended to “promote educational, social events and workshops/seminars that highlight the significant contributions of African American’s in the areas of  culture, fine arts, education and health related issues.” The relays are very popular in the Black community, earning the nickname Black Mardi Gras.

With this in mind, community leaders organized a festival to highlight and educate visitors about Austin’s African-American community. “People come here from out of town to do the same things. Sixth Street, the mall, Sixth Street, the mall. We’ve got something different now,” Huston-Tillotson track and field coach Harvey Ware said to News 8 Austin.  Whether you are watching the pros or checking out the activities, these two events are great outdoor fun.

On Tuesday I will talk about a great event later in April, the Paralympic Experience, so be sure to check back for that.

SXSW flashback

While spring break and the South By Southwest festival are now just a distant memory of one or two weeks ago, I thought I might relive some memories for you. It’s kind of like getting a Christmas card in January. Yeah, it’s late, and you really don’t care about Christmas spirit anymore, but it’s always fun getting real mail. Plus, it’s always fun to read the yearly updates (“Tommy broke his leg, Sally is on Honor Roll, Uncle Phil went back to jail…).

Friday afternoon and evening I mostly wandered around on Sixth Street, so I will just show a glimpse of that.

I can’t remember the name of this band, but I love how there’s another band just chilling in the background, waiting for a spot on the street corner.

It had started getting a little chilly, but everyone was still outside enjoying the beautiful weather.

One band that really stuck out to me was The Coal Porters, an “Alternative Bluegrass” band from the United Kingdom. Check out their SXSW interview here. They were so much fun, and they had a great sound. Maybe it helps that I grew up listening to bluegrass, but the crowd on the corner seemed to enjoy them a lot as well. Plus, the Scottish guy on the guitar had the most splendid accent. Here’s a clip:

They were random and talented, and very fun to watch! Did you stumble across any gems during SXSW?

Fun in the sun

If you’re looking for a new outdoor activity to try, go kayaking or canoeing on Lady Bird Lake for the day. Recreational kayaks and canoes are simple to navigate and safe for all ages.

Texas Rowing Center

The Texas Rowing Center has Austin’s largest fleet of kayaks and they offer singles, doubles and triples kayaks and canoes for rent by the hour or by the day. No reservations are necessary and their rental rates vary on the type of equipment you choose:

Single Kayaks

Hourly: $10
Unlimited: $25

Double Kayaks

Hourly: $15
Unlimited: $35

Triple Kayaks

Hourly: $20
Unlimited: $45


Hourly: $15
Unlimited: $35

The Texas Rowing Center is located on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail and directly across from Austin High School. For more information, call 512-467-7799.