6 Spa Tips for Spring Fitness
Over the winter, many of us become couch potatoes rather than brave the elements. Or we'll go to a controlled environment like the gym, where we run on the treadmill while watching TV. While this isn't bad, the experience can be better: "Spring is the time to get out, smell the flowers, and feel the air as it warms up," says Kent Burden, the mind/body program coordinator at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, California.
A few pointers before you get started: Always warm-up and cool down; wear at least an SPF 15 sunscreen when you're outdoors; and hydrate before, during, and after your workout. (If you're exercising for more than an hour or in hot temps, quaff an energy-boosting beverage that's half fruit juice and half water, says Lori Reamer). Here are some spa-inspired workouts:
- Try the Spring Combo Mind/Body Workout: "Here at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, we'll go for a hike, then stop in the middle to do yoga or tai chi," says Burden. "This workout challenges your cardiovascular system, and it addresses strength and flexibility." (And when it comes to whittling the waist, hiking and running are two very efficient calorie burners.) To boost the mind/body experience, says Burden, "Focus on everything around you, what is blooming, and the 'spring awakening' it creates in your body." Here's the plan: Hike (or do a trail run, if you're up for it) for 30 minutes. When you find a nice spot, unroll your yoga mat and practice a 10- to 15-minute sequence that integrates yoga moves such as the Upward Facing Dog, Plank Pose, and Downward Facing Dog. Then complete your hike/run by returning to where you started.
- Go Poolside: What better way to "treat" your body than to take your workout to the water? Being in the water -- especially outdoors -- is the perfect antidote to those predictable videos you've been doing all winter, says Kim Onnen, a fitness instructor at the Heartland Spa in Gilman, Illinois. You burn plenty of calories partaking in water-based activities, plus "you benefit from the natural resistance of the water, and it's easier on your joints," says Onnen. (This makes water workouts ideal for those with arthritis.) You might swim laps at the local Y, or sign up for a water ballet class. Find something that fits your fancy and your schedule. Aim for getting 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, at least three to five days a week, says Onnen.
If you can't make it to the pool regularly, mix it up with other physical activities, such as brisk walking or cycling. The important thing is that you're moving. But if you've been inactive all winter, don't rev your workout up too soon or you'll increase your chances of injury. Especially in the beginning when you're easing into a program, 10 to 15 minutes is just fine, says Onnen.