Resolve to Move
3 fresh ways to get your exercise on
By Ross Boissoneau | Jan. 4, 2020
It’s undoubtedly the oldest and most common New Year’s resolution: Everybody wants to get in better shape, lose weight, become more flexible. But how to do it?
There are certainly plenty of options. Join a gym (and bail after a month or so). Get a home gym (then turn it into the kids’ playroom). There’s yoga, martial arts, Pilates, spinning — the list goes on and on.
Maybe the easiest option is just to start running. But where’s the fun in that? “Running sucks,” said Terri Hillier succinctly. She should know, as she endures it alongside members of the Traverse City Track Club. But it’s not just putting on a pair of sneakers and hitting the road. She and her husband and others engage in “rucking” — running, but with a weighted rucksack.
Hillier and Jim Thoreson are co-leaders of the Traverse Area Rucking Club. “We carry 20 pounds. We use four paver bricks taped together [inside the rucksack] so they don’t bounce all over,” she said. Good idea.
But whose idea was it to do this in the first place? Hillier said it goes back to special operations forces training. She said she experienced it in a program led by military veterans. “They teach some of the survival skills they had to learn,” she said.
While it demands fitness and endurance, it goes beyond those skills. “It builds teamwork. It’s not a competition,” Hillier said.
“I hate running,” she reiterated. “But when I’m done, I love it.” She said anyone who similarly thinks running is a horrible idea and wants to try its difficult but perhaps more interesting cousin can find out more by searching “Traverse Area Ruck Club” page on Facebook.
LET THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN
Sound too hardcore? Maybe you’d prefer Gyrotonic® exercise. As evidenced by the little circle R, this method is trademarked. It features special equipment and instruction, built around the idea of exercising your muscles in a circular manner. It is based on movements from Kundalini yoga, swimming, dance, gymnastics, and tai chi.
Bridgit Frank is a certified Pilates instructor and a certified Gyrotonic® Level 1 instructor. She leads classes at Village Pilates at Grand Traverse Commons. “The way I think of it is three dimensional and circular, compared to Pilates, which is two dimensional and linear,” she said.
It includes specific machines with pulleys and weights and uses (and hence restores) the kinds of circular motions the body does in activities such as golf or tennis. Frank said it’s about strengthening and toning the muscles, including the core. “Gyrotonics is safe. You’re not going to injure yourself. It’s great for shoulder problems or hip issues. A lot of dancers use it, but it’s a great movement for any age or fitness level.”
That’s what attracted Mia Munroe. The former professional ballet dancer was looking for something for herself and others that would restore strength and mobility without pain or injury. The first to offers Gyrotonic® exercise locally, she does so at her Movement In Action studio in downtown Traverse City as well as at Table Health in the Commons and New Moon Yoga on Cherry Bend Road.
In addition to improving one’s overall health, her focus includes the benefits it provides to the pelvic floor. That includes things she said are not widely discussed, such as incontinence, prolapse and prostate problems, as well as digestive health problems. “I look at their lifestyle and habits, if they’re sitting at a desk, a biker, a golfer, and match it to balance. I can teach people how to sit.
“It includes a three-dimensional range of motion, extension and flexion, lateral rotation,” Munroe said.
While most of her clients are women, Munroe said both men and women can get great benefits from it. “It’s the nemesis of lower back pain. It helps the digestive, endocrine and skeletal systems, using fluid motion to articulate every joint,” she said.
Is it worth it? “The best thing is you feel invigorated, energized, even taller after,” said Frank.
JUST PLAIN PLAY
If you’re looking to stimulate your creative juices and not just your body, there are options there as well. InterPlay Body Movement combines several elements: movement, sound, storytelling, stillness and contact, according to Lee Edwards, a certified InterPlay leader. She’s one of three certified instructors in Traverse City, along with Barbara Termaat and Kathi Brown.
Edwards has held classes across the state, from Ann Arbor to Traverse City, Petoskey and Charlevoix. “It’s billed more as creative expression, but has movement built in,” she said. She said its goals are to improve health, from physical and mental to emotional. “People feel energized and enthused afterwards, and also often deeply touched,” she said.
InterPlay is described as “an active, creative way to unlock the wisdom of the body.” Lest that sound too contrived, Edwards said the components and indeed the impact can range from playful to profound.
She said her groups have ranged from four to 16 people, who work together on the various aspects of the exercises. They can include everything from vocalizations and singing to dancing, 30-second stories to doing movements with a partner. Edwards said in addition to freeing oneself, it builds community within the group, as the participants work solo, in pairs, small groups, or the whole group. Organizations can use InterPlay as group-building or brainstorming activities. “It’s a creative, whole-body approach,” said Edwards.
For more information, check out www.interplay.org, which includes links to InterPlay locations across the country, including those in northern Michigan.