New Ways to Move: Turning to Alternative Workouts

Many students choose to work off calories in the confines of local gym or an after school sports team.

Though the gym equipment and coaches offer students sufficient workouts, some are looking for something more then the average workout.

Some students have found alternatives and are participating in a variety of different activities to keep themselves in shape while also having an enjoyable workout.

 

Junior Josh Morris practices parkour on the South Lawn.

Junior Josh Morris practices parkour on the South Lawn.

Parkour

After a shoulder injury put Josh Morris’s gymnastics career on hold, Morris took his skills to the streets.

Morris, a junior, has been participating regularly in parkour for the past four years.

Parkour is a training discipline based on military obstacle course training. The practitioner’s goal is to move through a series of obstacles in a physically creative way, incorporating jumps, flips, and various other movements.

“The focus it to get from point A to point B in the most creative way possible,” Morris said.

Morris trains at the San Anselmo Rec Center two days a week for around four hours. The warm-up lasts about an hour and consists of a game of tag, where the students try not to touch the ground, to get their blood flowing.

Next, Morris has an hour of free time where he can work with coaches to practice new moves in the gym, followed by half an hour of vaulting and finally conditioning.

Outside of organized practice, Morris said that he practices around school and on the streets all week.

“It’s cool. It’s really easy to do and it’s really easy to teach people,” Morris said.

Parkour can improve strength, flexibility, and overall body condition.

“You have to have a lot of power for jumps,” Morris said. “For front flips and back flips you want to be safe so you have to tuck, so it uses your core. For front handsprings and round offs, you use your upper body.”

According to Morris, while parkour isn’t as popular here as it is in other states like Colorado or Minnesota, the sport is slowly beginning to grow in popularity among teenagers in the Bay Area.

Morris is currently getting a team together in hopes of participating in the San Francisco International Jam competition, which takes place in June.

Parkour incorporates skills and moves that take time to perfect. It should not be attempted without a trained professional in a safe setting.

 

Paddleboard Yoga

When the weather is nice and the water isn’t too rough, junior Geneva Gondak often finds herself in the middle of the Bay balancing atop a paddleboard.

After working last summer at Sausalito’s Sea Trek, Gondak began participating in Paddleboard yoga, a combination of paddleboarding and Hatha yoga that focuses on balance and core strength.

The classes are taught by Leigh Claxton, an exercise physiologist and long-time yoga instructor. Claxton created the class after noticing the positive effects it had on the balance of her patients who had suffered severe head injuries.

Out on Richardson Bay, participants can fully immerse themselves in the beauty of their surroundings.

“Since you’re on the Bay, you’re in a really great setting. You’re not in a yoga studio, you’re in nature,” Gondak said. “It’s really beautiful.”

According to Gondak,  the tranquility of paddleboard yoga is a nice break from her intense volleyball workouts.

Practicing on an unstable surface also forces students to become more observant of their centers, according to Claxton.

“You get more feedback on your balance,” Claxton said. “You can visually see the movement of the board – versus the floor, where it’s stable and you can’t tell where your body is.”

 

Bikram Yoga

Setting down her bottle of ice-cold water, senior Sophia Hooper lifts her left foot,  stretches her leg out in front of her, and takes a deep breath. It’s Saturday morning, and this is Hooper’s weekly Bikram yoga class.

Bikram yoga classes last around 90 minutes and work through a series of 26 poses. These poses focus on strength and utilizing muscles to their full potential.

The catch? Birkram yoga, known as “hot yoga,” takes place in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, with roughly 40 percent humidity.

“When I’m exercising I want to make sure I’m sweating. It’s validation for me that I’m doing work,” Hooper said. “Obviously in a 105-degree room, you’re going to be sweating a lot.”

Hooper said that Bikram classes are a nice change from just going to the gym.

“I think I need to have a balance,” Hooper said. “When I go to the gym I don’t push myself as hard.”

According to Arjay Parker, who owns Bikram Yoga in San Rafael, when people go to the gym they tend to try and zone out the physical actions of working out by listening to music, reading magazines, or watching TV. In contrast, Bikram aims to focus people on the action of working out and on their bodies without outside distractions.

According to Parker, Bikram yoga has several positive benefits, including improved circulation, which helps provide nutrients to parts of the body that don’t usually receive proper blood flow. Practicing Bikram can also increase flexibility and increase muscular strength.

Hooper said Bikram personally leaves her feeling completely detoxed and relaxed after a stressful week at school.

“My goal as an instructor is to get people out of their minds and into their body so that they can be happy with the bodies that they have,” Parker said.

 

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