Balance outdoor exertion with indoor training and recovery
Personal trainer Angela Muzic says city gyms are always full, even during the summer. That’s not necessarily the case in the Vail Valley, where you’re probably more likely to run into a fellow athlete on a trail than beside you on a treadmill.
“I think it’s a product of being in such a great, outdoorsy place,” explains Muzic, the Vail Vitality Center’s head trainer. “Typically, most people come up here to be adventurous outdoors, so we definitely see the drop off in the summer. I think people just want to do their activity outside — whether that’s hiking, biking, climbing, or whatever it is that you’re into.”
She says high-altitude activity takes it out of athletes as it is, then add in hours of repetitive movements and days of full exertion and burn out or injury may result.
“I think no matter what your sport is outside of here that it’s important to come in and strength train or to come in for a recovery class — one of our stretch classes or Pilates or yoga — to help you get back to your sport and feeling better the next day,” she shares.
How many days you get in the gym depends on what your activities are like and what your goals are, Muzic says. Generally, athletes should be coming in at least two or three times a week for strength training work and recovery classes.
Take time for recovery
“Our outdoor activities typically take up a couple hours of the day, so what you’re doing out there is over using the same muscles in the same patterns for that time period, which is longer that a typical workout,” she explains. “The problem with overuse is that’s when injuries happen; that’s when tendons and ligaments get overstrained. If you’re not recovering properly, then you’re just risking injury.”
Muzic recommends coming in for a stretch class or yoga class. She says it’s important to do dynamic stretching with an intention behind it. The stretch class that is offered at the Vitality Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. is designed for the outdoor athlete, she says.
“It’s just about helping the musicales relax a little bit and getting the blood flow back into them, bringing in fresh nutrients and oxygen to speed up the recovery process,” Muzic explains. “We really recommend foam rolling too, and that is something we incorporate into those classes. This breaks down overused muscles tissue and helps it to repair faster.”
Change up your movements
Cross-training, or training opposing muscles groups of the sports that you’re currently doing, is recommend by Muzic as a way to complement your physical strength and agility. She is also a firm believer in direct interaction with a trainer.
“I always recommend personal training or private Pilates or yoga,” she says. “I think having that one-on-one session with one of the professionals we have here at the Vitality Center is a really great way for them to see the patterns of movement in your body that you’re not aware of, and this will help you design workouts and exercises that are going to help rebalance you out.”
And whatever patterns of movement you do over and over outside on your bike or a rock wall, do the opposite when you strength train so that you build up opposing muscles groups.
“Athletes of all levels cross-train,” shares Muzic. “It’s important to get out of those pattern that you are always in with your sports of choice. It just makes you an overall better athlete — you collect oxygen better, you have more muscles working, you’re preventing injury — and those are all reasons why you are going to want to find a trainer to work with, or take some classes at the club.”
Group class sizes at the Vitality Center tend to be moderately sized, so there is still a lot of personal coaching available in class. If you are staying consistent with some of the TRX, cross-training, Pilates, yoga and barre classes, the trainers and instructors will get to know you’re body and help you with personal progress.
“As a trainer myself, I try to do one Pilates session and one training session with another coach or trainer during the week, just to get that feedback on my own body,” she shares. “It’s good to get advice outside the realm of what I know in order to see what I can do to improve the sports that I like.”
Kim Fuller is a freelance writer based in Vail.