Posts Tagged ‘Parks’

Nothing makes me happier than trading in the elliptical and stationary bike for my real bicycle. However, every year p1010240I need a refresher on how to best take advantage of my workouts in the great outdoors. Cycling is a great way to stay in shape because it is low-impact, high-fun, and requires a high level of physical fitness. On an average bike ride, I can easily burn 600 calories, depending on the number of hills and intervals in my bike ride. Contrary to popular belief, I find that cycling tones my legs rather than bulks them up, which I love. In order to refresh my mind on the rules of the road and the best way to gear up for a new bike season, I asked my friend, Scott, a cyclist on the MetLife pro-am team, to help me out.

CLOTHING: As a recreational cyclist, don’t feel like you have to go out and buy the fanciest gear. As long as you follow a few simple, common sense rules, you should be fine. For bottoms, choose something that fits snugly to your ankles or shorts. Spandex works well. I have a pair of padded shorts that I like to wear because I find them much more comfortable on a bumpy, long ride. On top, regular tee-shirts or long-sleeve shirts are fine, as long they’re breathable. Tank tops are less preferable because they provide less protection in case of a crash!

GEAR: This is always my question: what do I bring with me? I find that I always need a zillion things before going out on a ride, but I don’t want to weigh myself down. Stick with the essentials. You will definitely need a water bottle, and depending on the length of the ride, a light snack. I have a bike with clip-in pedals, so I wear cycling-specific shoes in order to get the most out of each rotation. Always bring your cell phone, a multitool, and maybe a portable bike pump in case of emergencies. If you’re cycling at night, wear reflective clothing and you might want to invest in front and rear blinking lights (red in the rear, white in the front).

ROAD SAFETY: Read this part carefully in order to avoid angry gestures – or worse! Cyclists should basically follow the same rules as drivers. You bike with traffic and must obey traffic signs and signals. Be sure to assert your space, especially around cabs, because you have just as much a right to be on the road as they do. Act confidently, even if you’re feeling nervous, and make eye contact with other riders and drivers to make sure they’re aware of you. Be aware that the bike lane isn’t always reserved to bicycles (although it should be). Also important: don’t ride too close to parked cars, lest you get “doored” (which is just as painful as it sounds). For more information, check out the Bicycle Habitat website.

HAND SIGNALS: Important for riding in traffic. Remember to always use your left arm.

                                   LEFT                 RIGHT                 STOP


MY MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Remember how far you’ve ridden away from your starting point; you’re going to have to bike back!

For more information on biking in New York City, check out the New York Cycling Club and Bike New York!

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Like everyone in Manhattan, I can hardly contain my delight when the sun finally comes out, even if it’s only 30 degrees.I find myself wanting to take advantage of the nice weather and go for a run outside. While this option is always tempting, I find that my muscles never benefit as much as they do inside. I get cardio galore, but it’s such a chore to have to lift weights when I get back to my room, or worse yet, go over to the gym after an already intense run.

Park Bench Push Up
Park Bench Push Up

While I was running through Riverside Park today, I found myself wondering how I could use what was at my disposal to give myself a total-body workout. Of course, my mind went immediately to a workout I had seen while leafing through endless stacks of “Fitness” magazines during my time as an intern. I have borrowed their workout, cut some silly ones, and added a couple of my own tips based on personal experience.

Get Fit Outdoors

1)    Side Leap: Running on bricks getting boring? Stop for a minute to do some inner thigh/glute work. Starting with both legs together, bend your knees and hop to the right as far as possible. Don’t bring your feet together, but instead bend your right knee and hop to the left. Do 20 hops on each side.

2)    Park Bench Dip: I always feel this one in my triceps. Facing away from the bench, support yourself with your arms on the seat of the bench with your legs bent at a 90 degree angle in front of you, dip your arms so that your upper arms are almost parallel to the ground, then raise. Do 12-15 reps.

3)    Park Bench Push-Up: Facing the bench, put your hands on the seat. Fully extend your legs behind you and do 12-15 reps. Fitness recommends you do push ups again with your feet on the bench and your hands on the ground, but I’d just as soon do another set to avoid putting my hands on the gravelly ground!

4)    Side Shuffle: Along the same vein as the side leap. Shuffle three steps to the right, jump up and turn around, and shuffle back. Continue for a minute. Watch out – sounds easy, but is surprisingly difficult.

5)    Side Step: I felt silly doing this one in the park. Basically, find a step and alternate bringing one knee up to your chest, then the other. Repeat til you’re bored.

Side Step
Side Step

6)    Slalom Jump: Place 4-6 small rocks in a zigzag pattern, with about 1.5 feet in between each rock. Keeping both feet together, hop to the outside of each rock. Turn around at the end and continue for a minute.

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As a student in NYC, it’s important that every once in a while we step back,  relax and enjoy what the city has to offer. Sure, it’s hard to do during midterms, or during the lull after midterms, or during the craziness right before finals, but as spring starts approaching and the weather starts warming, it’s a good idea to take a bit of a break and enjoy NYC from the outdoors. Sure, there are nice museums and buildings and lots of things to look at during the winter, but the warm Spring weather opens up a whole new door of opportunities. In addition to the double-decker bus tours and the Circle Line around Manhattan, there are some outdoor activities that combine seeing NYC and exercise!

So as not to bore our avid readers, I won’t go into all the opportunities to bike ride around NYC, but I will briefly mention two things definitely worth looking into: 1 – the Five Boro Bike Tour coming up in May (see my previously posted Daily Apple for more information) and 2 – A bike tour around Central Park, which is a great way to learn the ins and outs of central park, if you’re up for the challenge of a couple of hills along the way! I will, however, inform you of something new I have just learned about – the Manhattan Kayak Company. Sounds cool, right?

The Manhattan Kayak Company offers a whole range of classes of instruction, but their most popular activity is their “short tours.” Short tours are one hour, 1.5 hours, or 2 hours long, and they run both in the middle of the day and in the evening. You can choose your tour by theme: they offer Sunset, Full Moon, Paddle and Pub, Cardio Fit, and Skill Fit tours. There are also a variety of other types of tours offered for intermediate and advanced Kayakers. You can go in a typical kayak, and you can learn how to paddle standing up! The MKC is located on Pier 66, which is three blocks north of Chelsea Piers (26th St and 12th). Visit http://www.manhattankayak.com for more information.

Don’t forget though, that this is just one of the amazing opportunities for outdoor exercise in NYC. When you have that Sunday where you’re just not in the mood to do school work, and the nice weather is calling your name, spend a couple of minutes google-ing outdoor activities in NYC, and your bound to find something interesting!

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To everyone interested in winter sports, check out the great events the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation has planned for tomorrow’s Winter Jam. If you’re interested in trying out snowshoeing or cross country skiing, or just want to watch some sledding, head down to East River Park between 11 AM and 4 PM to join in the fun.

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As someone who exercises most every day, I often reach a burnout point with cardio equipment, weight training routines, and too-often jogged paths. This New Years, I made a fitness resolution not to increase my workouts, but instead to find ways to build exercise into my day in a way that engages not only my muscles but my mind. I’ve incorporated new dance and aerobics classes into my weekly mix of workouts, because the choreography requires me to stay present and mindful of my body. Instead of pushing myself to go harder or farther, I challenge myself to commit a new skill to muscle memory. I also eliminated one standard gym workout per week. Rather than plateau, or worse, frustrate myself into avoiding exercise altogether, I try to find an activity every weekend where I can both move and see new things. One weekend I walked from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Midtown with a friend, window shopping and running errands. Another week, I just took the stairs everywhere that day, and did some pushups and ab workouts in my room. Anything to be outside the gym, without the stress of changing clothes or the annoyance of having forgotten socks, a magazine, or deodorant.

So, as part of my resolution, I’ve discovered the Upcoming Events calendar on the website of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Many of the parks offer walking tours, which are both educational and active. The park rangers lead historical and nature-oriented programming, including activities like birdwatching and winter hikes. This weekend, I’m thinking about joining up with their walking tour of Union Square. Check out the offerings and find a way to incorporate a low-stress, informative, and engaging activity into your day that still allows you to break a sweat.

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