Health

Boot camp challenge was the kick-start I needed

STARTING NEW YEAR Fresh off a college hockey season, Ledger-Transcript intern Taylor Adolphson put himself to the test with a professional trainer

Think you’re in good shape? If so, maybe it’s time you put your fitness to the test by undergoing a workout with a professional trainer. You’ll probably find out you’re not as strong as you thought, and you’ll probably discover a few muscles you didn’t know you had.

I recently took on a challenge by signing up for an afternoon with trainer Tracy O’Malley at Performance Health and Fitness in Peterborough. Personally, I thought that as a collegiate hockey player, that I’d skate by, so to speak. Just having finished my season, I’m still in decent shape and I didn’t think I needed to do any more than what I was already doing.

Hockey is demanding enough to where it could make you believe your fitness level is higher than it really is. The constant striding up and down the ice, going body to body with other players fighting for the puck, falling and getting back up when you’re already dead tired are all aspects of the game that help improve your cardio, endurance and overall body strength.

I decided I wanted to test my body and find out how good of shape I was actually in. Everyone has their limits on what their body can handle, and I wanted to figure out mine and whether or not with some help, I could surpass those limits.

I called O’Malley and requested a personal training session with her, and she ended up running me through what they call a “Boot Camp” over at Performance. I was very excited to see what this entailed, and I was ready to test my body. I certainly was far less excited the morning after the boot camp ­— I could barely walk up and down my stairs my legs were so tight and my body was sore all over. But we’ll get to more of that later. First, here’s what we did.

Before we even got started she had me do a series of stretching exercises to get my blood flowing, get my heart rate up and to ultimately get my body lose before a demanding work out like the boot camp. We ran through jumping jacks, stationary squats, walking lunges, high knee skips and “inchworms.” These warm-ups stretch you to allow your body to prepare for a full-body workout. I learned quickly that I am nowhere near as flexible as I should be being, especially as an athlete.

O’Malley informed me that flexibility is paramount when it comes to athletic performance, but what she has realized over the years is that people neglect to adhere to a proper stretching schedule.

Well, before I knew it I was out of breath and wanting a break, but the determination and confidence that O’Malley instills in her clients didn’t allow me to stop. There was no looking back, and definitely no slowing down. Looking back at the workout, I can see why she wouldn’t let me.

The boot camp lasted about 40 minutes, including stationary stretches at the end to help yourself cool down. The workout consisted of 10 stations. Each station had three different exercises that worked the areas of the body.

For example, one station had traveling lunges, where you would walk and lunge and the same time but keep the proper form for maximum results; split jumps where you jump and land in lunge position, keeping your head up and back straight to get the full impact of the exercise; then lateral lunges where you lean side-to-side, extending the opposite leg from the way your body is leaning. All of these exercised parts of the body like hamstrings, quads and the gluteal muscles located in the buttocks.

Each station lasted three minutes, 50 seconds on and 10 seconds off, and then it was right into the next exercise. O’Malley stressed that short breaks between reps or stations will actually increase your strength. She discussed that quick breaks don’t allow your heart rate to drop, so you’ll burn more calories and ultimately improve the health of your heart.

Every station worked the same way whether focusing on the arms, legs, shoulders, back or core. Throughout the workout, your body will adjust to the fast pace tempo and it will become easier. O’Malley always stressed the point about breathing because during aerobic exercises your muscles need oxygen to be able to perform. She would make sure I was breathing and she could always tell when this wasn’t happening properly, or at all.

I learned quickly that I wasn’t in the shape that I thought I was in. My muscles were completely dead before I could finish the workout because I had never pushed myself in that way. O’Malley said that was because when you go through a true and proper workout, your muscles need to be fatigued and ripped so they can grow back bigger and stronger.

So here’s the lesson I learned: Never accept the state you think your body is in because you can do more. Doing the workout is the easy part­. Challenging your body and motivating yourself to do so can be the hardest part of all.

Taylor Adolphson of Peterborough is a senior at Keene State College, where he just completed a season on the men’s hockey team.

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