It’s official: Summer has arrived. The temperatures are creeping higher, the days are longer, and if you’re anything like me, you’re looking for every excuse under the sun to be, well, under the sun. It’s the season of working, playing, eating, and perhaps even sleeping outside, soaking up every second of the Upper Valley’s brief but beautiful summer. The urge to get outside is strong, and it certainly extends to our workouts. Before you take an extended vacation from the gym, though, it’s a good idea to think about how indoor exercise at UVAC can improve your time outdoors.
Case in point: hiking. One of my favorite ways to spend a summer day is on the trail, making steady progress toward a summit. The woods around me are saturated in green, the rich smell of soil is in the air, I hear the rush of a stream in the distance, and life is good. It’s hard work, though, climbing toward the top of a mountain, and as I make my ascent I know I’m going to feel it in my legs tomorrow. Hiking isn’t the sort of adventure you undertake without first building up your strength, and that’s where time in the gym really gives you a boost.
In preparation for my upcoming hiking season, I chatted with John Grainger, Fitness and Personal Training Director at UVAC. For trail enthusiasts like me, John suggests targeting the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core muscles, with special emphasis on the first of these. Why are the glutes so important? John says that they’re the muscles working the hardest as we go uphill, and on the downhill, weak glutes can lead to some serious knee pain.
To beef up your glutes (and quads, and hamstrings), John recommends squats, step-ups, and lunges. Planks and shoulder bridges will develop your core muscles, and you’ll be on your way to stronger, more stable hiking. The great news is that UVAC offers multiple opportunities to incorporate these exercises into your workouts. From strength and core classes to weight machines and personal training sessions, there’s a good way for all the hikers among us to benefit from gym time.
I’m looking forward to some excellent days on the trail this summer, and with the right strength conditioning, I know I’ll enjoy them even more. Whatever your summer adventure(s) of choice — hiking, running, kayaking, paddleboarding, biking, rock climbing, open water swimming — maximize your outdoor time with the right indoor workout. Here’s to a safe, strong, and fun-filled season!
By Caitlin Birch — UVAC member; Canaan, NH resident; Digital Collections and Oral History Archivist at Dartmouth College