Friday, June 19, 2009

Go outside and play: canoeing and field day

I'm teaching motorcycle class this weekend so I won't be out and about, but below are some events for you to try.

Take it back to grade school with Creative Loafing's popular Field Day '09. Expect wacky games, lots of sweat and big fun.

This will take team work. Try paddling a 22-foot canoe with nine other people. UNC Charlotte’s Ventures Office will give you an opportunity with a paddling trip 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., June 20. It costs $54.

SERIOUS ROCKCLIMBING: Head out to the National Whitewater Center and see the NC State Games Boulder Climbing Competition & Kayak Competition. Climbing from 2 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. and kayaking from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Coming up:
Charlotte Breezers are organizing a white water rafting trip at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City.

July 25, 2009

$100-160* members or $125-185* non-members.

Price depending on overnight stay.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

U don't need legs to bike

I have two friends who have physical disabilities that prevent them from running, but the Charlotte Observer story below shows how they can still stay in shape.

A $10,000 grant is giving people with physical disabilities an opportunity to experience the thrill of mountain biking.

Cornelius-based The Cycle Path has two off-road hand cycles available for riders to borrow. They are free to use, but Cycle Path owner Mark Sullivan is having a hard time finding riders. He bought the bikes hoping they would provide physical activities for injured veterans. So far, Sullivan hasn't had many takers – veterans or civilians – and he wants to change that.

“We don't want them just hanging there and collecting dust,” he said.

Transamerica Reinsurance Co. provided the grant for Cycle Path to buy the bikes, which cost $5,000 each. The bikes have two wheels in the front and one in the back. The arm-powered cycles can be steered with the rider's chest and hands.

Thanks to the Tarheel Trailblazers mountain bike club, hand cyclists can stay in the Cornelius area to use them. The Trailblazers built a mile-long trail at Jetton Park that is wider than typical trails to accommodate the larger bike. There is also an adaptive trail at Southwest District Park.

Several trails at Lake Norman State Park are also wide enough to accommodate the bikes, said Tom Mathews, past president of the Tarheel Trailblazers.

For more information: The Cycle Path, 20900 N. Main St., Cornelius. 704-896-3331.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gator can't stop Fort Mill kayaker

Neither a broken oar or an alligator could stop Fort Mill's Dion Zucconi from paddling from Rock Hill to North Charleston. It took Zucconi five days and some frayed nerves to complete the trip. He deserves mad credit. I did a kayaking tour of Lake Norman last week. It started at 9 a.m., and by the time it ended at noon, I was more than ready to be on solid ground. I can't imagine five days in one of those.

I mentioned the Rock Hill Herald article about Zucconi last week because I wanted to know what type of outdoor or fitness feat have you always wanted to do. I'm still holding on to my goal of throwing the dogs in the car and hitting the road with a tent and cocktails. What about you?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Segwaying thru Latta Plantation

Now, I know what it feels like to really ride a Segway. Last week, I took Latta Plantation's Segway Adventure Tour. My group included two couples and their friend - all class of Central High 1956. I had a great time with them, but we didn't cover as much as ground as the tour usually does.

This morning outdoor recreationalist Neil Elam took me back out for a quickie to see some of the trails we didn't get to see last week. Latta Plantation at 7 a.m. is one of the most serene places to be. We cruised along twisty trails such as the Catawba trail. I loved navigating my two-wheeler around roots, rocks, mud, hills and sharp curves.

We visited the equestrian center (Neal fed the horseys - cute.) We also visited the park's prairie (peaceful). The prairie is acres of natural native vegetation. We saw a turtle and a blue heron. Neal said if we were really lucky, we'd see a great horned owl, but we didn't. We also took the winding trails to different parts of Mountain Island Lake.

The Segway tour is a great way to see nearly all of the park, which has miles and miles of trails. The tour is only $35, and you can register through Parks and Rec. I suggest getting a group of up to six people and scheduling a private tour. If not, you can sign up for the park's existing tours.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Charlotte Roller Girls' day of bar games

The Charlotte Roller Girls spent Saturday afternoon challenging customers at Mac's in South Charlotte to beer pong, cornhole and arm wrestling. The event raised enough money for a month's worth of practice space fees. The next bout is July 19 at the Grady Cole Center. The afterparty will be at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille.

Friday, June 12, 2009

No excuses to get in shape

If you've been thinking about getting in shape and need a little inspiration, read about Dawn Brickler.

She's a quadriplegic who was injured in a boating accident on Lake Norman. According to a story in the Charlotte Observer, she founded the Race to Walk Fitness Center in Mooresville. It's a fitness center for people with paralysis, and features special equipment.

If paralysis doesn't stop Brickler and her customers from staying in shape, what's stopping you?

Go outside and play: kayaking and more

I'm planning a crazy active Saturday. It starts with a kayaking tour of Mountain Island Lake and then I'm planning to support the Charlotte Roller Girls at the their cornhole tournament.

If you're looking to dabble in outdoor recreation, here are a few suggestions:

ROCK CLIMBING: The Charlotte Breezers, an African American outdoor recreation group, is rock climbing at the U.S. National Whitewater Rafting Center in Gastonia. The Breezers are a fun group, and their events are well organized. I've done their ski trips and skydiving excursions.

Rock climbing prices: $27-$56. Contact: Hezekiah Barnette at 704-301-1724 or

KAYAKING: Experience a different side of Mountain Island Lake with a three-hour kayaking tour Sunday afternoon. Never kayaked before? It's all good. Tour starts with paddlers learning the four basic strokes, and how to enter and exit the kayak. All equipment provided, but bring plenty of water and snacks. $16. I'm doing Saturday's class.

The Mecklenburg County Parks and Rec site isn't easy to navigate. Go to the site, click Activities and then search for kayaking. There are only three slots left for Sunday's tour.

Coming up:

Take it back to grade school with Creative Loafing's popular Field Day '09. Expect wacky games, lots of sweat and big fun.

This will take team work. Try paddling a 22-foot canoe with nine other people. UNC Charlotte’s Ventures Office will give you an opportunity with a paddling trip 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., June 20. It costs $54.

Pre-trip meeting 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m., June 16. More info: Sarah Fox 704-687-3398 or

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shedding pounds on skates

Amie Pinkie Adams never liked the gym, but roughing it up on roller skates inspired her to be more active.

After a car accident sidelined her for months, Adams trained to play roller derby. She is one of nearly 50 area women in the Charlotte Roller Girls League. She's lost 25 pounds since February, and she still enjoys chicken wings and beer (afterall, PBR is a league sponsor.)

"I didn't start conditioning before I started (playing in) the league," said Adams, 32. "It motivated me to get in shape."

Adams is an example of how getting fit doesn't have to occur in a gym, and doesn't require endless miles of jogging. The Charlotte area has numerous adult recreational leagues -- Charlotte Sports Connection, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, and Interlink -- that offer sports ranging from flag football to kickball. If you want to get in shape, try finding a sport you loved in high school or discover a new one.

I have played flag football off and on here for 15 years. I have tried ice hockey (I sucked), and played pick-up volleyball and soccer while living in the area.

Adams found her motivation on roller skates. Charlotte Roller Girls started with 10 women three years ago. Now there are three teams within the league. In September, the teams will compete for an intra-league championship. CLTRG teams play at Grady Cole Center and average about 1,200 people per game.

Along with intra-league play, the Charlotte Roller Girl teams also play roller derby teams throughout the Carolinas and surrounding states.

The woman aren't being paid to play, but they're more committed than some of those whiny professional athletes. Roller derby is a high-speed, high-impact sport that requires serious physical training. The women train on and off the skates.

Adams trained for nearly a year before she was in good enough to shape play in her first game.

"There's a lot of garbage cans, I threw up in," she said with a laugh. "I was out of shape. I had put on a ton of weight."

The players practice two hours a day, four days a week. Adams said a team member calculated the women burn at least 1,000 calories per practice.

On Saturday, the league will host its Inaugural Cornhole Tournament and Bar Games at Mac’s Speed Shop, 2414 Sandy Porter Road. It's from 12-6 p.m. Along with cornhole, there will be arm wrestling with a roller girl and beer pong. The next bout is July 19. The afterparty will be at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

ISO an outdoor adventure

I have always wanted to - and still plan to - do some kind of big outdoor adventure. I've done skydiving, whitewater rafting, ziplining in a rain forest and kayaking. But I'm talking about doing the kind of adventure that make your friends call you crazy and pray.

I loved what Christopher McCandless tried to do in 1992. He's the Emory University grad who gave away his savings and wandered across the country to rough it in Alaska.

The only problem is McCandless died of starvation in Alaska. I'm not into dying.

Fort Mill's Dion Zucconi's idea of adventure is my style. Zucconi, 30, is paddling a kayak from Rock Hill's River Park to Charleston's Cooper River. The trip will take at least a week and cover more than 500 miles of water.

Zucconi's kayak trip is a doable adventure. I'm still trying to figure out the right one for me. So, far the closest I've come is camping alone at the Grand Canyon a few years ago.

What type of outdoor adventure have you done or would you like to do?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Yay! mom, but now I'm scared

My mother sent me a text on Sunday. She's worked out five days a week for three weeks. I'm proud of her. This is the most consistent she's been in minute.

I offered to workout with her when I go home in a few weeks. She invited me to go to her aerobics class.

Ugh, I was thinking we'd walk together. You know, spend a little mother-daughter time, walking around a park. But no, she wants me to be in a room with a skinny chick who wears headphones and has way too much energy.

I always look crazy in aerobics. I usually go in the wrong direction. And I don't know any of the commands they use. Me and my big mouth.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Intimidated by the gym?

Meet a Union County woman who lost 90 pounds in two years without going to a gym. The Charlotte Observer wrote about Sarah-Emily Peterson who created a home gym in her apartment.

I know lots of people who buy fitness equipment, use it for a few months and then never touch it again. It takes a lot of self-motivation to workout at home. Kudos to Sarah-Emily Peterson.

If you find the gym to be intimidating, too crowded or too expensive then consider creating a gym at home. Start with finding a workout plan to determine what type of equipment you need. On Men's Health's site, click on workouts. Also look at their Belly Off and The 300 workout. At Sparkle People, you can create a custom workout by answering a few questions. Click on fitness then workout generator. At Shape's site click on fitness and weight training 101.
You can also check the local library for fitness DVDs, and many of the sites mentioned above have podcasts and videos.

If you live in an apartment complex or a subdivision with a fitness room, you can use the available equipment. Depending on when you go, those fitness centers can be as private as working out at home - without the interruptions of loved ones.

If you're starting your own gym, look at Craigslist sporting goods listings. Also check garage and moving sales for weight benches, dumbbells and cardio machines.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

We don't love our kids

A recent news story shows North Carolina ranks fifth in the nation for youth obesity. Call me insensitive, but there is no excuse for kids to be overweight. Actually, yes there is - too many of us adults are overweight as well.

If we love our kids, we'll do more to keep them healthy. Letting our children sit around the house and eat junk because they're bored is inexcusable. We have so many parks from big ones such to small neighborhood ones tucked behind homes. We have greenways and bike trails. The Huntersville Aquatic and Fitness Center is doing a kids triathlon series. Many YMCAs and other fitness centers offer programming and activities for kids.

Along with making our kids become more active, we also have to feed our children better. Whether it's fast food or frozen food, we can't keep feeding them food that is high in calories, sugar and fat because we don't have the time or energy to cook. The Johnston YMCA has a free nutrition class for members on June 15 from 6-7 p.m. I'm sure other YMCAs offer nutrition classes as well.

Most of all, we have to show our kids how to be healthy by leading health lifestyles ourselves. It starts with us.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I love you: You're fat

For years now, I've been going back and forth with my mom about losing weight. She always says, "I know honey, you're right." Or, "I've been so busy." Or, "I know I just have to do it."

In our latest round, she bought a treadmill. My parents have owned a gym membership since I was in grade school. Mom has used it sporadically for the last decade. But, about two months ago she bought a treadmill. She swore she was going to use it. You know how it goes, it's more convenient, she doesn't have to leave the house, blah, blah, blah.

She used it for a month - maybe.

My frustration led me to tell her she was going to die of a heart attack. That didn't work either. I suggested, again, that she hire a personal trainer. Then she would be more accountable since she was paying money.

For some reason, that one clicked. She realized she had a gym membership she wasn't using and a new treadmill. She's been going to exercise class and using her treadmill everyday for the last couple of weeks. She complains she hasn't lost any weight. I tell her it's only been two weeks and to stop worrying about the scale.

I'm hopeful, but no overly optimistic that she will truly start exercising regularly. Operation Bootcamp owner Christen Lewis says it takes several months for a healthy lifestyle change to become permanent. She gave me some advice in case my mother strays again.

She suggested trying to change my mother's eating habits first and then adding exercise.

"Doing both can be really overwhelming if you haven't done either in a long time," she said.

She also recommended because it has everything from meal plans to personalized workouts to various tips. The site also has groups so you can find local folks or people with similar goals/interests to be your weight loss buddies - online or in person. The groups schedule hikes, walks and runs together, among other activities, Christen said.

Christen warned, however, " (the site) makes it really easy to not exercise because you're chatting online with your weight loss buddies."

How have you motivated someone you love to lose weight?