Fun and Fitness

New athletic endeavors can offer long-term health benefits

With January officially underway, many might be determined to make this the year to look fabulous by getting fit and losing weight. But instead of doing the same old thing, signing up for another gym membership or trying the latest fad diet, why not try a new strategy? 

Health and fitness come in many forms, some of which can even be fun and engaging. So this year, try something new that may not only help meet this New Year’s personal goals, but might actually carry on for years to come.

Tell everyone you know

Try keeping a fitness goal by signing up for a race either on foot or on two wheels. Once family and friends know all about the commitment, it’s pretty difficult to simply back out. For those on foot, any number of online sites including running guru Hal Higdon ( provide a myriad of training programs for all distances free of charge. After deciding to go the distance, find one of the many races here in town that take place throughout the year, the most renowned of which is the Flying Pig in May.

Bob Roncker’s Running Spot (1993 Madison Road, O’Bryonville) is the official training headquarters for the Pig. Assistant Manager Matt Frondorf says Roncker’s will be training about 1,400 people this year for all distances (5K, 10K, half and full marathons), tailoring programs for both experienced and novice runners. He tells of the success stories of some of their runners who have shed 70 to 100 pounds while training for a race, which becomes both a cathartic and life-changing experience. As far as keeping a fitness goal, Frondorf says running with a group is a great motivator, especially on those chilly mornings when most people would have normally stayed in bed.

“It’s a lot easier to wake up in the morning when you know 100-plus people waiting for you at the shop that you can run with,” he says. “It’s always easier to run with a training partner than to run alone.”

For those who feel more comfortable on two wheels, getting started can be as easy as picking up that garage sale bike, according to Queen City Bike Executive Director Nern Ostendorf. As part of a natural progression, she says people will then upgrade their bikes and equipment when they choose to become more adventurous with their rides. To help make a commitment to cycling, she recommends commuting to work one way, one day per week by bike. Besides getting a great aerobic workout, she says it’s fun and therapeutic all at the same time.

“It’s enjoyable, it’s hard work, but there’s something really fluid and really spiritual about riding a bike,” she says. “For most of the people I ride with, sharing that with other folks is a lot of the bliss of it.”

Get your Zen on

For those who feel they need a sense of balance in their life while still getting a great workout, yoga may be the perfect solution. At Covington Yoga (440 Scott St.), owner/instructor Charlotte Rayne welcomes those just starting out, as the studio offers a number of beginner classes suited for each person’s individual ability. She says one of the biggest misconceptions people have is they have to be naturally flexible to enjoy yoga. She says touching your toes isn’t the ultimate goal and those who aren’t as flexible can find just as effective a stretch using props she provides such as straps, blocks and blankets. She explains besides the obvious physical benefit of flexibility, yoga develops core strength and posture, improves athletic performance, improves physiological health and majorly reduces stress.

“It’s a huge de-stresser — so any consequence you have because you’re stressed out will be greatly reduced and eventually entirely eliminated with regular practice,” she says. “I think its benefits are incredible.” 

If yoga seems a bit subdued, but the idea of balancing mind body and spirit is still appealing, why not give martial arts a try? At Taekwondo Center of Cincinnati (4325 Red Bank Road, Madisonville), student director Rick Beard says you’re never too old to begin martial arts, as exemplified by his students who range in age from 3 to 53 years old. He says martial arts increases flexibility, muscle tone and endurance on the physical side while building confidence of the mental side. He says people might see results sooner by working out with a trainer, but with martial arts you develop a skill set in self-defense in addition to getting fit. He notes that many times adults begin taking martial arts because they want to learn self-defense, get in shape or they finally have the time to do something they’ve always wanted to do.

“A lot of the adults who I talk to that begin here, they’re response is much the same as when I began, which is, ‘This is something I always wanted to do as a kid and never had the chance,’ ” he says.

Going downhill isn’t always bad…

Instead of dreading the cold this year, why not make it part of your winter workout? At Perfect North Slopes (19074 Perfect Lane, Lawrenceburg, Ind.), director of snow sports Mike Mettler says novices can learn to turn within the first hour of taking a lesson. Perfect North offers free snowboarding and ski lessons from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. to anyone holding a lift ticket. He advises those who are just learning to be sure to dress in layers, as individuals burn lots a calories and tend to heat up quicker than expected. He says people can rent all their gear, including snow bibs, from the facility. In addition to being a fun family activity, he points out that skiing and boarding are great aerobic exercise. 

“You’re having so much fun learning and working on stuff that you don’t realize how much energy you’re burning when you’re out there,” he says. “It’s a great winter exercise — it truly is so much fun.” ©

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.