|Stadium Crew: Sunday, September 27th|
The view from the bottom of the steps, looking up, up, up, is daunting. The view from the top is dizzying. There’s a new fitness experience in Ottawa this fall, making use of Lansdowne stadium, and it’s open to everyone.
Free fitness movements are a growing trend. The most famous of its kind, The November Project (november-project.com), was started in Boston in 2011 by two Northeastern rowing alumni as a method of staying motivated to train in the cold months. Over the winter, the group gained momentum and members. Today, upwards of 200 people meet three times a week at 6:30 am to run stadium steps or hills in Boston alone, with satellite groups all over the United States and Canada (the Toronto group meets Wednesdays at 6:30 am at Casa Loma).
Free fitness is not a new concept in Ottawa. Lululemon provides instructors for the free and immensely popular Yoga on the Hill every Wednesday at noon from May 6 to September 30. As of July 30 this year, a free Bootcamp (www.phbootcamp.com) is hosted on a rotating basis by several of Ottawa’s fitness companies and professionals, Thursdays at noon.
But certified fitness instructors Tracy Glennon and Andrea Laporte decided that Ottawa was in need of more. Both employees of GoodLife Fitness (Tracy is a Group Fitness Divisional Manager and Andrea is a Group Fitness Manager), whose new Lansdowne location is the meeting place for the stadium workout, they asked if they could have access to one of the city’s most incredible facilities for a new kind of workout. The stadium owners, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, agreed, and a crowd of about 15 friends and fitness colleagues came out for the first stadium workout on Sunday, September 13.
After a thorough warm up at field level, during which everyone sensible should be wondering why they are doing this so early on a Sunday, the participants head up the steps to the North Side stands. They are divided among the stairways, then are put through their paces for 60 minutes.
The workout is, admittedly, not suitable for everyone. Although the leaders offer options to reduce the intensity and impact, and remind participants to work at their own pace, the hour-long interval workout uses the stadium stairs as its gym. The intensity of the moves varies, but make no mistake, this can be as challenging or hardcore as the individual. Sprinting up the steps, high-knee runs, two-footed jumps, lunges, pushups, squats, and planks…. The most shocking move yet? Walking up the steps on your hands, with your lower body being supported in a wheelbarrow position by the person behind you.
The group, so far, is heavily weighted with other fitness instructors, who can be heard calling out support and motivation to their fellow participants. For others, the challenge is personal.
Last Sunday, when the whistle blew to signal the end of a second set of two-footed jumping all the way up to the top of the stadium, one of the participants yelled out in frustration. “I was three steps away!” She vowed to make it to the top in two minutes next week.
No equipment is mandatory, other than good athletic shoes, but a water bottle is a good idea, as are gloves; after all, you’re putting your hands on stadium steps that have, at the very least, bird poop on them.
The workouts will continue at Lansdowne every Sunday at 8 am until the end of November, after which time there may be issues with snow buildup on the steps. The instructors hope to negotiate something with the City by then. In the meantime, Tracy is passionate about building this group. “Spread the word. Bring someone you like.” She laughs. “… Or someone you don’t like.”
What it is: Ottawa Stadium Workout
When: Sundays at 8 am, until the end of November
Cost: Free (GoodLife will validate parking)
Open to: Adults, 18 and up (must sign waiver)
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