Work up a sweat outside the PEC

If you’re tired of competing for your work out space, Kingston offers a variety of alternative fitness options

Home to the highest indoor climbing wall in the country and only 20 minutes away from campus, the Boiler Room is a viable fitness option for any student.
Home to the highest indoor climbing wall in the country and only 20 minutes away from campus, the Boiler Room is a viable fitness option for any student.

At university, competition is fierce. Students compete for grades, the best seats in class and sometimes even for a spot on an elliptical at the Physical Education Centre.

But there are alternatives to sweating it out in an underground room filled with other people for whom a workout is just another stressful experience.

Whether it’s fresh air you crave or just another direction, Kingston has an array of alternative fitness experiences all within easy access to campus.

Katrina Keilhauer, ArtSci ’10, got creative with her workout after she discovered how uncomfortable the PEC made her.

“Everyone’s staring at each other; everyone’s really close together,” she said. “I just find the PEC really uncomfortable in general.”

To avoid feeling trapped in an inflexible environment, Keilhauer said, she takes yoga classes at Feel Yoga and runs on a regular basis.

“I run in the mornings, about five kilometres, so I get up early and go and don’t go to the PEC at all,” she said. “I run partly through the Ghetto, through Sir John A. [Macdonald Boulevard] … and around down by the water.”

Running is perhaps the easiest and least expensive option for working up an out-of-PEC sweat.

But if you’re worried your cardiovascular fitness will have you gasping after a couple of blocks, don’t fret. Rob Christie, manager of the Running Room, said running is one of the few sports anyone can learn.

“Just about anybody can run with the proper training,” he said, adding that the Learn to Run clinic offered by the store is one of its most popular. The store also offers clinics for running different distances, from five kilometers to a full marathon.

Although joining a community running group can be intimidating for students, Christie said a large part of the Running Room’s customer base is made up of students.

“We’ll end up with a couple of hundred of students for sure,” he said. “Even some of our instructors are students.

“You get the fresh air; it keeps your mind sharp. For someone who has been sitting inside all day long … outdoors is probably the best way to go.”

But if running just isn’t your thing, there are many alternative fitness experiences that provide equal benefits with lower impact.

Climbing is one such activity and with the Boiler Room Climbing Gym a 20-minute walk from campus, climbing is a viable fitness option for any student.

Home to the highest indoor climbing wall in the country, the Boiler Room has walls for a wide range of skill levels as well as an experienced staff ready to answer any question you may have.

Cathy Wills, who co-owns the gym with her husband, said about 60 per cent of the gym’s clientele is students.

“It’s an adventurous sport and it appeals to people who have enough means, kids who don’t have jobs yet can’t afford to go and do stuff like this on their own,” she said, adding that the Boiler Room offers classes as well as all necessary equipment rental.

Wills said climbing offers her a peaceful way to de-stress, something she said many busy students could use.

“I use it for stress and relaxation because you don’t have to think about all the million details about what you have to do in your day, you only have to think about how to get from here to there,” she said.

“Normally we all exist in this horizontal world where we’re going in a direction from here to there. In climbing you’re living in a vertical world where you exist from this move to that move.”

Climbing allows you to leave the world below you, Wills said, adding that, unlike in traditional gyms, the self-directed nature of climbing takes out the level of competition and stress often found in cramped workout rooms.

“Climbing as a culture is what’s called a friendly culture. You compete only with yourself. … It’s based on trust and interaction,” she said. “In [a] fitness centre … you’re directed. You’re not problem solving. When you climb you’re problem solving.

“It’s a physical experience that requires your cranium.”

Besides climbing being incredibly chic, Wills said there’s a lot of actual fitness and physicality involved in moving up the wall.

“It builds flexibility and balance and body awareness,” she said. “It builds strength.”

Fitness alternatives

The Boiler Room Climbing Gym
Climbing walls for all abilities, bouldering cave, and climbing lessons
4 Catarqui St.
613 549 0520

The Running Room
Running, walking groups and clinics
227 Princess St.
613 547 3666

Runner’s Choice
Running and training groups
260 Princess St.
613 542 2410

Clinics and courses on a variety of outdoor sports and skills
272 Princess St.
613 546 4757

Yoga classes in a variety of styles from beginners to veterans
397 Princess St.
613 548 7685

Path Yoga
A traditional ashtanga studio offering yoga classes for everyone from beginners to veterans
336a Barrie St.
613 328 5856

Feel Yoga
For bikram style yoga classes, hot yoga, pilates and meditation
80 Princess St.
613 547 9642

Goodlife Fitness
1100 Princess Street
64 Barrack Street

- Angela Hickman

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