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December 31, 2010

Upcoming fitness classes

If joining a gym or fitness organization isn't your thing but a structured setting would get you to exercise, don't overlook classes offered by hospitals near you.

Many hospitals have gone beyond providing illness support groups and disease information sessions to offering exercise classes. And there's a pretty good mix -- self-defense, yoga, strength training, massage and more.

Many classes run weekly for a few months, so you aren't making a long-term financial commitment, which has a lot of appeal. Most hospitals charge for classes, but some classes are free. For example, Anne Arundel Medical Center charges for T'ai Chi, and Good Samaritan is home to a free chair exercise program for older people. And a number of fitness classes are either ongoing or have a session that will start soon.

Classes are listed on a hospital web site, but may take some poking around. Look under classes, events, calendar and wellnes. An occasional one-session nutrition program may be in the mix.

This is by no means every area hospital, but it will get you started:
For Anne Arundel Medical Center, click here.
For Baltimore Washington Medical Center, click here.
For Howard County General Hospital, click here.
For Good Samaritan Hospital, click here.

Posted by Andrea Siegel at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Events, Newbies, Yoga

December 30, 2010

Top marathoner Sammy Wanjiru charged in Kenya

Wanjiru at the 2010 Chicago Marathon.
International marathon star Sammy Wanjiru has been charged by Kenyan authorities with violent behavior, as reported here.

The marathoner is accused of threatening a housekeeper, wounding a security guard and making threats against his wife's life, writes James Kariuki in Kenya's Daily Nation. He was allegedly then found with an AK-47 rifle. The athlete's lawyer says the situation was a setup, according to the Kenyan report.

Wanjiru has been a champion in multiple big events, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the London Marathon. Most recently, he won the Chicago Marathon.

As of Thursday afternoon, comments on the Daily Nation site ranged from conspiracy theories to sadness.

Wanjiru lives on an estate in the Rift Valley, which is home to most of Kenya's fastest runners.

Chicago Tribune file photo by Stacey Wescott

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 2:42 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Running

Lofty goals for 2011


I have not always been big on new year's resolutions and have usually forgotten the few I have made by the end of January. But, last year, instead of giving up soda, a resolution I managed to keep for only three months, I decided to set a cycling mileage goal for the year.

According to my bike computer I had logged in the neighborhood of 3500 miles a year in past years but had not kept very good records. So, I figured 5000 miles for the year was an achievable goal, especially broken down into bite-sized pieces. I only had to average 416 miles per month or 13.6 miles per day, roughly my round-trip commute to work.

The key to sticking to my goal was to record my daily mileage on a calendar, focusing on staying ahead of weekly and monthly targets. I also found that picking a few long distance events and registering early was a good way to maintain focus.

I ended up hitting the 5000-mile mark in mid September while riding the Civil War Century. I have slacked off a bit since then but will have about 6300 miles for the year - by far, my biggest year ever.

So what's next?

I figure that an even better way to hold myself to a resolution is to throw it out there for everyone to see.

Since I have been goaded by my fellow bloggers into signing up for a triathlon and in a moment of temporary insanity, signed up for the Baltimore Marathon, my goal for the year will be 7500 self-propelled miles.

Since I have not really started running or swimming yet, I expect biking will still be my primary focus. I have several events on my calendar to train for and rack up the miles.

In May, I plan on biking from Pittsburgh to Washington with my son on the Allegheny Highlands and C&O Canal trails. As soon as registration opens up, I will sign up for the Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah 100 mountain bike races. I expect to ride the Civil War and Seagull Centuries again next year and still hope to find the time and stamina to do a down and back double century on Skyline Drive, an unachieved goal from this year.

Okay, so now that I have put it all out there, it is your turn. Let's hear your fitness resolution for 2011.

Reuters photo by Michaela Rehle

Posted by Jerry Jackson at 10:15 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bicycling, Running, Triathlon

December 29, 2010

New Year's Resolution Run

First of all, sorry for the darkness lately. With holidays and vacations, we've either been not around or extra busy. 

I am definitely planning to do some posts on New Year's resolutions, since fitness goals are usually included on many of our lists. Stay tuned for posts on joining a gym; gym alternatives; making realistic goals, and tips for keeping your resolutions once you've made them. You may have to wait until after Jan. 1 to read all of them, though!

In the meantime, here's some info on a New Year's Resolution Run in Patterson Park on Jan. 1. Don't worry, it's in the afternoon, so you can still stay up late on New Year's Eve!

Saturday, January 1, at 2 PM is the big day for the Resolution Run! is saying it will be partly sunny with a high of 53º, which sounds like fine weather to take in the landscape of Patterson Park!

Registration opens at 12:30 PM at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Hall at 2638 East Baltimore Street. If you've already registered, plan on getting your packets early at one of our Packet Pick-Up events (if you haven't, you can do so at Pick-Up):

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
12 PM - 5 PM at Falls Road Running Store
6247 Falls Road in Baltimore

Thursday, December 30, 2010
12 PM - 5 PM at Earl's Place
1400 E. Lombard Street

The race begins at 2:00 PM, and the chili, cornbread and homemade cookies will be ready for you after you've run or walked across the finish line. Even if you're not in the mood for chili, be there for the awarding of the trophies and random prizes. Plus, clients from Earl's Place will share their stories on where they've come from and where they're headed after coming to Earl's Place.

Trophies will be given to the top three male and female finishers, plus the top three male and female finishers in the following categories: 15 and under, 16-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70 and over. Plus, random prizes will be awarded at the post-race celebration!

Even if you don't need to make a New Year's Resolution to keep yourself in shape in 2011, convince one of your sedentary friends to take up the active lifestyle and join us running the road in 2011.

Bob Olsen
Baltimore Resolution Run


Posted by Anica Butler at 4:03 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Running

All about sweeteners


Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center will provide a guest post on healthy eating. Have questions or ideas for future topics? Email This week, Amanda Tauber weighs in on avoiding sweeteners. 

Non nutritive sweeteners (sweeteners that do not provide any nutrition) are consumed on a regular basis in the United States. In fact, the American Dietetic Association reports that “up to 9 in 10 consumers in the United States buy or use low-calorie products, including sugar-free and reduced-fat foods and beverages.” Open up your cabinet and refrigerator and take a look for your own food purchases. Chances are, something in your house contains non nutritive sweeteners used to reduce the calories in that food product.

Whether it’s to help manage your blood sugars, reduce your risk for cavities, or just to cut down on calories, non nutritive sweeteners can be an easy way to reduce your sugar consumption. Below is some more information on sweeteners available in the U.S.

Neotame was approved by the FDA as safe for human use in 2002 and is 7,000-13,000 times sweeter than white sugar. It can be used in baking since it's not greatly impacted by heat and has a taste described as a “clean, sweet taste without bitter, metallic, or off flavors.” Neotame is being tested for its taste in beverages, gum, candy, frozen deserts, beverages, and for basic use as a tabletop sweetener.

Aspartame aka Nutrasweet or Equal is 160-220 times sweeter than sugar with the U.S. leading the world in consumption of this sweetener. Most aspartame is seen in diet drinks, but some is also found in pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Aspartame is not a good sweetener to bake with because it isn't capable of withstanding high temperatures and loses some of its sweet taste. Aspartame also contains the amino acid phenylalanine and should thus be avoided by people with an inborn error of metabolism called PKU, or phenylketonuria. That's why both Nutrasweet and Equal are labeled with “Phenylketonurics: Contains phenylalanine.”

Stevia is the sweetening agent in Truvia, one of the newest sweeteners on the market that is being found in many food products as well as a great way to sweeten your coffee or fruit. Truvia comes from the Stevia plant which is subtropical plant found in Paraguay and Brazil. Stevia is said to be 250-300 times sweeter than sugar.

Saccharin is most commonly known as Sweet and Low. It can be found in drinks and foods, used as a sugar substitute, and also used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. At one point, the FDA had labeled it a hazardous chemical because it was believed that it was capable of causing cancer. This decision was overturned at the beginning of the decade after further studies were released. More recently, the EPA removed the sweetener from its list of hazardous substances.

Acesulfame-K (Sunett, Sweet One) has been on the market for a number of years and has found success sweetening nearly everything. Since it's so sweet, very little needs to be added to foods to produce a sweet taste. It is not affected by heat and can therefore be used in baking.

Sucralose is one of the most popular sweeteners on the market and goes by the name of Splenda. But why is this sweetener so popular? It has a chemical structure very similar to that of sugar, therefore has more of real sugar's characteristics, but happens to be 600 times sweeter. Like Stevia, Splenda can be used in nearly everything and is a great substitute for regular sugar. 

Overall, non nutritive sweeteners can be a great addition to an all-around healthful lifestyle. Like any food, enjoy sweeteners in moderation and balanced with other healthful food choices.

Getty Images file  photo 

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Nutrition

December 27, 2010

Weekly walking/running roundup

What I’m doing: The Resolution Run in Baltimore

Why: I hate to admit this, but I have never run a race in Patterson Park

What else I recommend: I have been seeing the PHUNT event on calendars for weeks now, and I look forward to doing one of them soon.

Other options: Annapolis walking ghost tours, Glen Burnie daily walking program

Gaithersburg New Year's Day 5K, Howard County Resolution Run 8K Prediction Run, Patterson Park New Year's Day Resolution Run 5K/Walk and 1 Mile, Father Time Frolic,
Winfield Mile, RASAC Fallston New Year's Day 10K, Run For Vinnie, NCRTS Group run, SMCN Prince Frederick Resolution 5K Run/Walk, NY Program for beginning runners

50K PHUNT Run, Group run at McDaniel College

Federal Hill Monday run

What did you do last weekend? Upload race photos here.

More events | Submit an event | About these roundups

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 9:02 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly roundups

December 24, 2010

Fitness Expo

Mark your 2011 calendar:

The Severna Park Community Center, a not-for-profit, no-membership center, is having a free fitness fair Jan. 8. The center is still lining up vendors from around the region, Anne Arundel Medical Center is working with the center on this, and a schedule of classes, demonstrations and seminars is being finalized. The program includes fitness and exercise, health and wellness.

This is the second year of the Fitness in the Park Expo. Last year, more than 250 people came. This is a good way to sample different exercises without making a commitment and to check out new things on the market. Classes and programs at the expo include not only the ones that operate at the center, but those offered elsewhere in the area. Events for kids, adults, seniors -- they are all part of this. That might give you some good ideas and motivation for the new year. More info will be on the center's website as the 8th approaches.

The center also is home to a free exercise class on Monday nights. The idea is to get you started, whatever your level. Show up with your towel and bottle of water.

For the center's website, click here.

And if your organization has upcoming fitness events, tell us.

Posted by Andrea Siegel at 6:00 AM | | Comments (0)

December 22, 2010

Navigating your salt choices

Each week, a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center provides a guest post on healthy eating. Have questions or ideas for future topics? E-mail This week, Karen Kolowski weighs in on salt intake.

Salt is one of the world’s most common additives and has also been a precious commodity for centuries. It was used for food preservation as well as an offering in ancient Egyptians tombs. These days salt is found everywhere and can be hidden in a list of ingredients. For most Americans too much is consumed daily and can cause quite a few health problems, most notability high blood pressure. But for some extreme athletes higher salt intake is needed.

On the shelves at grocery stores or specialty markets you might see more than one choice; table salt, fleur de sel, sea salt, Kosher salt and salt substitutes (Mrs. Dash, No Salt, etc.). How do you know which one to choose? Just know that all of the different types of salt will provide the same amount of sodium, the cause of health issues. The only exception will be your salt substitutes since they are manufactured for people who have high blood pressure or heart disease. Some people like to state that sea salt is “natural” and a “healthier alternative” but just know it will cause the same effects as regular table salt. Even the fancy pink, grey and finishing salts are all basically the same; they just have a different flavor depending on where they were harvested from.

Some sources of salt can be hard to find if you don’t know the scientific language used on food labels. Monosodium glutamate, sodium chloride, monosodium chloride are all sources of salt. It can be found in soy sauce, baked goods, cheese and canned goods. Beware of the choices you make daily. Choose lower salt or no salt varieties when offered, especially with canned goods. Or, if you are able, prepare your own foods. This allows you to control the amount of salt added to recipes. Avoid placing the salt shaker on the dinner table, for some the temptation is too strong to resist.

The recommended daily intake of salt is 2,400 mg, which is about the size of 1 teaspoon. For people who have high blood pressure, the recommended daily intake is 1,500 mg, which is about the size of 2/3 teaspoon. There are other ways to make foods tasty without adding salt. By using different herbs and spices, the flavor of foods can be intensified and you can be kinder to your health. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has a great website to pair meats and vegetable with healthy flavorings.

If you are a marathon runner or ultra-athlete, you may need to increase the amount of salt you take in per day, but it differs between individuals. If you sweat excessively, exercise in the heat and have very salty skin when finished you shouldn’t limit the amount of salt you take in daily. Just know that you won’t replace the salt lost with sports drinks, they are actually higher in water. After the extreme sweating just have a meal that is higher in salt to help replace what was lost. Salt is found everywhere in the world and has been linked to major health problems. You can help by arming yourself with the knowledge of reading food labels, knowing how much you take in daily and how to substitute for extra flavor.

Posted by Kim Walker at 9:59 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Nutrition

December 21, 2010

Warrior Dash: The craziest race with the coolest stuff

What race gives you a Fuzzy warrior helmet AND free beer?

Why, it's the Warrior Dash

I'd never heard of this insane sounding event until a co-worker told us she'd signed up. The race, which is just more than 3 miles long, is made up of several obstacles including the "tipsy tight rope," the "petrifying plunge" and the "warrior roast."

Registration is open for next year's event, which will be held May 21 and 22 in Mechanicsville, about an hour and 45 minutes south of Baltimore.

And I thought that running the Celtic Solstice was wild (potentially, had it snowed)! I had no idea. Anybody planning to do this event? Anyone done one previously? 


This funny bit came from the Warrior Dash website. It's tips on training for the event: 

How do I train for Warrior Dash?

1.   Day one: run as far as you can. Go home. Day two: do the same thing.

2.  Find the dirtiest pond in your neighborhood and snorkel in it - in your slippers, without goggles.

3.  Practice your climbing and crawling skills at your local jungle gym.  Ignore the small children and parental glares.

4.  Do not shower or shave for weeks in order to obtain a true Warrior look.

Seriously though, your best bet is to do plenty of running leading up to the race.  


Posted by Anica Butler at 11:16 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Events, Outdoors, Running

December 20, 2010

Weekly walking/running roundup

What I’m doing: Going home to Michigan for Christmas, memories with my family and skating at Campus Martius. (Maybe some running too.)

Why: I thought about crashing the headlamp run tonight, then decided against it in favor of a colleague's going-away party.

What I recommend for those staying here: Go to a movie on Saturday. There's literally nothing scheduled for Christmas.

Other options:

Glen Burnie daily walking program, Annapolis walking ghost tours

Dowell Nutcracker 5K, WRRC weekly group run

Monday runs in Federal Hill, Rockville all-comers fun run

What did you do last weekend? Upload race photos here.

More events | Submit an event | About these roundups

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 2:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly roundups

Tell your snow story for a shot at a tasty prize

December 5 gave us a little bit of snow, but we had to wait until last week to get some real accumulation.

At my childhood home in Michigan, that would mean it was almost time to start shoveling off the back porch, gradually making the resulting pile higher and higher until there was a tremendous* hill on which to sled. Eventually, I got too cool for that, but since I had more than one younger sibling, the snow slide survived through most of my teenage years.

Now, I view winter weather as a good chance to exercise lateral muscle sets that normally get underutilized.

A jog on snow-covered ice makes running much less linear activity, and as long as I slow down a bit when it's wise, things tend to go well. That said, please shovel your sidewalks: One of my most vivid memories from the last year was the attempt to wade through unshoveled areas in front of Charles Street businesses after the blizzard, during a period when running was the most practical way to get to work. While there were a few bad apples that didn't take care of their properties at all, the many people who could manage to clear some snow -- even just a single shovel-width -- made the trip a lot easier.

What about you? We want to know about your snow story. If it involves exercising, that's great. If not, that's fine too. In the spirit of a winter full of hot cocoa and fireplaces, the best** comment gets you two bottles of a tasty, chocolate-based energy drink we received via FedEx. (You can heat it up if you want -- it's sort of like very thick cocoa.)

*Ok, it was actually about six feet in height. I was short, and with a watering can and a cold night, you can get a lot of distance out of six feet on a plastic saucer.

**Judged by an arbitrary process that involves whoever happens to be handy in the newsroom when we reach the one-week mark.

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 10:48 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Safety

December 18, 2010

Race review: Celtic Solstice in Druid Hill Park

This morning was my first time running the Celtic Solstice but definitely not my last!

First of all, the weather was fantastic. Chilly enough to make it interesting but not at all windy and no precipitation.

And I loved the course! Druid Hill Park is one of my favorite places to run, but I was unsure of the course before I arrived. The race gets major points for ending with a downhill, but, the beginning of the race was SO crowded in the narrow points that during the first mile, I was worried I was going to be getting elbowed and kicked the whole way. But eventually, it thinned out, as races do, and all was well.

I'm still a racing newbie, but I can't imagine a better post-race than the Celtic Solstice. I mean, cookies, spiced wine and soup?! Yum!

Last note: It was so much fun to see all the Santas and other festive holiday outfits. There was even a group of caroling reindeer! Next year, I'll run with a camera.

Posted by Anica Butler at 3:39 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Running

December 17, 2010

Dump Your Plump

For the third year in a row, Fort Meade is rolling out Dump Your Plump after the holidays. A free exercise program of about eight weeks, it's got mandatory weigh-ins, is modeled on TV's "Biggest Loser" show, and has a fitness and wellness focus.

It's open to variety of people with a Ft. Meade connection, including contractors. While individuals can sign up, the focus is on the team approach. Nobody wants to be person dragging down the team down.

"You don't need so much internal motivation. You've got external motivation," Scott Myers, chief of community recreation, told me.

In its first year, the program had 112 participants. Last year, it had 260. And Myers said many more are expected to sign on for the January 2011 program.

Last year, the top four-person team, Fat Fire 4, dumped 123 lbs.

Myers said anyone trying to start a fitness program after the holiday binge or just starting up shouldn't jump-start it with weights that are too heavy and with tiring runs.

His tips:

1. Walk. Set a comfortable pace. Outdoors is nice, but don't use winter weather as an excuse to plop down on the couch. Indoors is fine -- gym, mall, wherever you're comfortable. 45 minutes a few times a week is an excellent start.

2. If you go to a gym, try recumbent bikes and cross-trainers. Swim. Low-impact exercises are good.

3. Don't feel pressured because the guy on the next treadmill runs at 6 mph. Go at your own pace.

4. Have a team, or group that you exercise with. It's more fun. And nobody wants to disappoint the team.

Information on Dump Your Plump:

Posted by Andrea Siegel at 11:55 AM | | Comments (0)

Top 10 Fitness Gifts

Thanks for all the great suggestions for fitness gifts! Here's my list of the Top Ten ideas, in reverse order, of what to give (or receive) for a fitness-related present (for photos, click here):

10. Road ID - As safetyfirst commented, it may not be the sexiest gift, but it's certainly a practical one. There are several different styles of bracelets and shoe tags that hold key emergency information just in case. Give this as a stocking stuffer and show the runner in your life that you care about their safety.

9. Gift card for clothes or classes - If you do yoga, or know someone who does, you know how $15 per class can add up. Many yoga studios around town are offering gift cards, or monthly passes. Some gyms also offer a monthly pass. Gift certificates for clothes are also a good idea. Unless you really know what size and fit your gift recipient is, gift cards for stores like City Sports allow them to pick their own warm jacket, running tights or new swim suit.

8. Socks, mittens, hats and other cold-weather items - Keeping warm is vital to enjoying winter sports. But technical socks, hats and gloves can be spendy, so many people don't buy them for themselves.  But a warm pair of socks, like the Injinji toe socks (which I am dying to try!) make great stocking stuffers.

7. Snowshoes! Fun for the whole family! I've actually never been snowshoe-ing, but I'd try it if someone bought some for me for Christmas! Similarly, flippers, or a tennis racket could be fun to find under the tree. The point is, you can buy someone equipment for a new or old sport.

6. Reflective gear or flashlights - Another safety item for those who still want to run and bike outdoors even with fewer hours of daylight. Jerry Jackson reviewed bike lights earlier this year and here are some ideas for lights and reflective gear for runners.

5. Yoga mat - If you go to yoga more than once, you deserve your own mat. Who wants to share with strangers? Look for new, greener options, like yoga mats free of Latex and PVC or biodegradable mats (not recommended for those who practice outdoors).



4. A heart rate monitor - Even though I used my Polar when training for the half marathon this year, I was having a hard time coming up with a reason why one would make a good gift. So I asked my running buddy and her reasoning is that it helps a runner not train harder than they have to, which is a pretty good reason. For someone who is just starting out a fitness regimen, a HR monitor could keep them from working out to hard, yet also provides motivation -- most show how many calories you've burned! And the simpler ones, which are great for beginners, cost under $100.

3. Personal GPS - Help a runner or biker up their game. You can more accurately track distance using GPS, plus keep track of your time and store all your data on your computer. Some popular options are Garmin and Timex Ironman, but don't rule out buying accessories for a runner who uses the Nike+ GPS app with their iPhone.

2. Race registration, preferable to a dreamy destination race. (and if you're really generous, you could kick in a plane ticket and hotel, too :)

1. Zero-gravity treadmill - The website says "It's like running in space." Say no more. Thanks to brstevens for the awesome suggestion!


So what  do you think? Did we leave out anything you're planning to give or hope to receive?

Posted by Anica Butler at 7:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Top Ten

December 16, 2010

Yogurt health claims overblown, unproven FTC says

I hadn't heard about this until Monica mentioned it in a comment earlier, but apparently, the makers of Activia Yogurt (you know, the yogurt that has the commercials with the strange hand movements) and DanActive will pay $21 million to settle claims of deceptive advertising.

According to a statement from the Federal Trade Commission, Dannon made claims about the health benefits of the yogurt products that were not backed up by research. 

Here's the part I found most interesting:

Dannon may not make any other claims about the health benefits, performance, or efficacy of any yogurt, dairy drink, or probiotic food or drink, unless the claims are true and backed by competent and reliable scientific evidence. 

Seems like that's something we take for granted with these kinds of claims. 

Here's the story from the L.A. Times where I found this information. I really had no idea that Dannon was claiming Activia could help prevent colon cancer!

Monica seemed to be standing by her yogurt in her comment. I'd be interested to hear what others think about the decision. 

Me - I am always extremely skeptical of health claims made about food, and cosmetics, for that matter. But saying that yogurt can prevent cancer seems really egregious.And requiring food makers to have scientific proof behind their claims seems like a no-brainer to me.


Posted by Anica Butler at 5:30 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Articles/Reports

Snow forecast for the Celtic Solstice race Saturday

It seemed like a good idea at the time ...

Months ago, I signed up for Saturday's Celtic Solstice race in Druid Hill Park. Earlier this week, I picked up my awesome race shirt.

And though I've barely run at all since the Baltimore Half Marathon in October (I've been spending more time on my swimming lately), I was still pretty psyched about the race.

Until I saw the forecast. Yup, snow.

I mean, I can't say I didn't see this coming. The video of last year's race shows exactly what the weather could be like. Still, now that's it here, I'm a little nervous. Most of friends who are also running Saturday are talking about their race times. For me, showing up, when I could easily stay snuggled up in bed, will be the victory.

My co-worker and I are still fretting about what to wear though.


Posted by Anica Butler at 12:00 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Running

Trainer Tips: Short bouts of exercise can have big payoff

Today, we're introducing what we hope will be a regular feature: Trainer Tips.

Today's tips -- on easy ways to incorporate exercise into your busy holiday schedule -- come from Becky Conti, an American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Personal Trainer and an ACE Certified Weight Management Consultant who works as a trainer and nutrition consultant at Merritt Athletic Club in Canton. More about Becky, as well as her contact info, can be found after her post: 

Becky Conti


Recently, the Institute of Medicine announced new cardio guidelines -- to maintain our health, we should spend at least an hour each day doing moderate exercise.  Now, I WORK in a gym and I can’t figure out how I would ever fit that in every day!  And now that the busy holiday season is upon us, I get overwhelmed just thinking about squeezing a workout into my hectic day.  But the reality is, if you don’t put fitness as a priority during the holidays, you’re more likely to gain a few pounds … and then some.  Nobody wants to miss the fun of festive parties, red wine and eggnog, and baking cookies with the kids for Santa!

So trying to find little ways to keep active during this hectic time of year is essential for health and happiness during the new year.  If you don’t have an hour to spend at the gym, here are some tips to incorporate little bouts of exercise into your day: 

1. During your lunch hour or right after work, put your running shoes on and head to the nearest stairwell and run (or briskly walk) up 5 flights.  Jog back down and repeat 3 times.  This 10 minute workout will raise your heart rate and will keep you burning calories even after you’re finished.  And you’ll get it done before you go home and start finding excuses!

2. If you do make it to the gym, instead of spending 45 min on the treadmill or elliptical, try interval training.  You can burn just as many calories in 20 minutes of intervals as you can in 45 minutes of moderate exercise!  Try this:


  • Walk at a moderate pace on for 2 minutes (this should be comfortable)

  • Run at a fast pace for 2 minutes (you should not be comfortable, this should be challenging)

  • Walk at a moderate pace for 2 minutes

  • Run at a fast pace for 2 minute

  • REPEAT for 20 minutes


3. If you’re at home with the kids or waiting for the water to boil, try doing a quick 15 minute plyometric workout in front of the TV. Plyometrics (also known as plyos) are power moves that incorporate some body-weight resistance training and also keep your heart rate up.  Try this quick workout that incorporates plyos and body-weight exercises to give you a calorie-burning, muscle-toning workout that can be done anywhere:

  • 15 Squat Jumps (lower into a squat position and immediately jump vertically.  Land back in squat position and repeat.

  • 15 Push-ups (feel free to keep your knees on the floor if necessary)

  • 15 stationary lunges (stand with feet together and lunge forward with your right leg making sure to keep your knee behind your toes. Push through your right heel to come back to starting position.  Repeat on other leg.)

  • Rest for one minute

  • 15 sit ups (on the floor or on a mat)

  • 25 jumping jacks

  • 25 knee lifts (while standing, lift your knee to your chest and then immediately alternate to the other knee.  Repeat at a brisk pace.)

  • Rest for one minute.

  • Repeat entire circuit. 

These are just some of the ways you can incorporate exercise into your day in minimal time and still max out the benefits.  Making time to burn off that eggnog will help you avoid writing “lose my holiday flab” as your New Years Resolution!

Becky Conti is an American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Personal Trainer and an ACE Certified Weight Management Consultant.  She works as a trainer and nutrition consultant at Merritt Athletic Club Canton and also trains clients through her website  She has been featured in magazines such as Oxygen, Fitness & Physique, and has appeared on the cover of Performance Press Magazine.  She also writes fitness articles for Fitness & Physique Magazine and  Becky also competes in national fitness and figure competitions each year.

If you're a trainer and would like to write tips to share with our readers, please send an e-mail to Also, if you have any questions that you'd like us to ask a trainer on your behalf, send them our way as well.

Posted by Anica Butler at 9:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Trainer Tips

December 15, 2010

Bizarre phony attack on jogger in Central Park

According to the NY Daily News, a TV weather woman there made a report of being attacked by a stalker in Central Park. Reportedly, she told police that a Hispanic man attacked her and dragged her into a wooded area in September, and that he recently was menaced by the same man.

Scary story, except that police are saying that the story is entirely made up. The woman is now facing charges.

I really don't understand why someone would make up such a story, and I won't speculate, but I wonder whether any other Central Park runners decided to take extra precautions -- or stayed away from the park completely -- because of the false reports. Although, I guess, most of us know we need to be careful all the time.

Posted by Anica Butler at 1:10 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Media, Safety

How to commit to an exercise plan

Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center provides a guest post on healthy eating. Have questions or ideas for future topics? E-mail This week, nutritionist Rachel Ernzen (pictured), weighs in on beginning an exercise regime.

With all the extra calories and added stress of the December holidays, does losing weight and exercising top your New Year’s resolution list every year? If you’re like most people, chances are you won’t be able to keep up with your resolution past June.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans emphasize that all adults should avoid inactivity. Research has shown that some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.

The American Heart Association encourages at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, or 30 minutes, five days a week. Other benefits of regular exercise include improved immune function and mental clarity, better sleep, and strong bones and muscles.

Most people can and should exercise. However, there are those with injuries and unstable medical conditions who should check with their doctor before starting a fitness program.

Here are some tips to help you overcome the odds and turn a difficult resolution into reality.

Choose your attitude How do you view exercise? If the words “time consuming” or “boring” come to mind, try putting a positive spin on your outlook. Physical activity can boost energy, dissolve stress and release tension.

Find an environment that feels approachable for exercise. Explore early-morning mall walking, off-peak hours at the gym, exercise DVDs or fitness video games you can participate in at home.

Move in new ways. Try water aerobics or yoga, sign up for salsa dance lessons or jump into a Boot Camp or Zumba fitness class.

Make a lifestyle change You’re motivated and ready to turn over a new leaf. But before you hit the ground running, ask yourself these questions:

Is my goal attainable? Start slowly and be mindful of pain. Mild soreness is normal; severe soreness or pain is not. Include rest.

Healthy weight loss is defined as one-half to two pounds per week. At this pace, it is realistic to lose 20 pounds in four to eight months, not 20 pounds in four to eight weeks.

Is my goal sustainable? If you have to replace your morning mocha latte and pastry for whole-grain oatmeal and black coffee to reach your goal, can you agree to sustain it?

Develop a plan Recruit support by joining a running group, seek out an exercise buddy or enlist the help of family in committing to healthier eating at home. Group efforts build accountability and a sense of companionship. New habits become more fun and more consistent with a friend.

Set aside time every day for exercise. Remember, each workout puts you closer to your goals.

Choose aerobic activities you enjoy. Start with 10-15 minutes of exercise daily and add five minutes to your routine weekly until you reach your goal.

Beat the odds this year and discover a healthier you. How do you help yourself stay on track? Share in the comments.

Posted by Kim Walker at 7:30 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Nutrition

Headache problems? Join our live chat at noon

Between winter cold and sinus problems and the effects of holiday stress, now is a good time to talk about headaches. And that's what we'll be doing today at noon with Dr. Paul Christo, director, Multidisciplinary Pain Fellowship Training Program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

You can send your questions in advance to or go to at noon to participate. Can't make it? A transcript of the chat will be at the same link afterward.

Please note: Comments made during the chat are for informational purposes only and do not represent or substitute as medical advice. Patients are advised to consult their own physician or pharmacist for advice, diagnosis and treatment.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (0)

December 14, 2010

Fitness Top Tens: What do you want for Christmas?

As I mentioned a while back, we are this week launching ten weeks of Fitness Top Tens here at Exercists, and I think it's gonna be pretty fun. 

Because it's the holiday season, I thought we'd start off with something that a lot of us already have on our minds -- gifts!

So for this week's Fitness Top Ten list, tell us what fitness-related gift you're coveting for Christmas, or what you're planning to buy for the runner/cyclist/yogi in your life. At the end of the week, we'll publish a list of the top ten ideas.

I'll tell you what I'd like to receive: I'm a big believer in new workout clothes for motivation, so a gift card to Under Armour or Lululemon or another apparel store is always a welcome present. The high-end item I tend to covet is a gps watch. Maybe it'd get me to take my training more seriously and run a faster race this year?

In some of the fitness magazines I read, I've seen running shoes listed a fitness gift idea. But to me, shoes are a pretty personal choice, so I don't think I'd ever give them as a gift.

So how about you? What do you want? Treadmill? Gym membership? Warmer weather? Dream big! 

Posted by Anica Butler at 11:45 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Top Ten

December 13, 2010

Weekly walking/running roundup

What I’m doing: Most likely running on my own

Why: There's a wedding on Saturday, and I probably have a skating event on Sunday.

What else I recommend: It kills me that I'll probably go another year without taking part in the Celtic Solstice. It looks like a few hardy souls have staged other events as well, all of which I would like to attend eventually.

List of options:

Glen Burnie daily walking program, Annapolis daily ghost tours

Celtic Solstice five-miler, Rudolph 5k XC Run, 400 meter kids run and adult walk, Frederick Alliance for Youth's Frosty 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run, NCRTS group run

Group run at McDaniel College, RASAC Holiday 5K, RASAC Holiday 5K, Virtual Holiday Run

Federal Hill Monday run

What did you do last weekend? Upload race photos here.

More events | Submit an event | About these roundups

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 9:24 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Weekly roundups

Marathon registration starts today

Just a reminder: Running fest registration starts today, as per this earlier post.

Register at | See archived 2010 marathon coverage here.

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 6:12 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore Running Festival

December 10, 2010

Runner romance

A little romance among runners? Kate O'Neill competed in the '04 Olympics in Athens and recently wed another former All-America runner.
Read about the romance and wedding, click here.

Posted by Andrea Siegel at 5:00 AM | | Comments (0)

December 9, 2010

Giving physiological tests a more interesting plot

I saw a well-done piece today on why standard VO2max testing procedures leave something to be desired. From Matt Fitzgerald:

The thing people complain about most is that the standard VO2max test protocol does not resemble how people exercise in the real world. In a running race, you cover a fixed, predetermined distance as quickly as possible. This is known as a closed-loop task. By contrast, in a standard VO2max test, you are left to somewhat arbitrarily quit when you feel you’ve had enough. That’s an open-loop task.

View the full story>>

I really like the way Fitzgerald looks at this. As with someone playing a primitive video game, a participant in the currently prevailing test is required to simply go until they get bored and/or exhausted. Conversely, the closed-loop task Fitzgerald suggests is attached to a narrative of sorts, with a beginning, middle and end. Which version of the test would you choose?

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 12:33 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Running

December 8, 2010

Baltimore marathon registration starts Dec. 13

Just got an email about registration for the Baltimore marathon, half marathon and 5K. These races do sell out. I guess this is a good way to get a jump start on any New Year's resolutions.

From the official email:

Online registration for the 2011 Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival will open on December 13th at 8am EST. This will mark just over 10 months from the start of the 11th Annual event to be held Oct. 15, 2011. All adult participants will once again receive an Under Armour Performance shirt with their entry fee.

Take advantage of our special TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS OFFER and save up to $12 off your race entry! Register any day prior to December 25th and receive a discount off your entry fee equal to $1 per day prior to the holiday. 12 days before X-Mas (Dec 13th) gets you a $12 discount off the marathon or relay entry fees listed below. (NOTE: Half-marathoners receive half the discount. Offer does not apply to 5K or Kids' Fun Run.) If you wait until six days before X-Mas, you will save $6 off the marathon or relay and $3 off the Half-Marathon.

To sign up beginning Dec 13, visit our website at and click on "Registration" button.

Posted by Leeann Adams at 3:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore Running Festival, Running

On body image and obsessive exercise

For those willing to take a short trip this weekend, there's an interesting-looking presentation up north that looks at the way we see our bodies.

Whether it's a binge-purge cycle, chronic self-starvation or exercise taken to a negative extreme, people find all sorts of ways to punish themselves for perceived flaws.

One guy I knew in high school insisted that everything was ok, even as he took up to 1200 milligrams per day of prescription-strength painkillers in order to keep running on a knee that his embattled nervous system was trying frantically to protect. A physical problem? Absolutely, but more than that, it was a destructive attempt by a young teen to cling to a previously created perception of his own body, even after that goal had ceased to be an asset*. (He ultimately was unable to finish the season.)

Anyhow, about that event: From Be Well Philly:

Whether it comes in the form of shockingly thin TV stars, Photoshopped models, family, peers, or the reflection in the mirror, the societal pressure to look better, thinner and more youthful is all around us.

On Sunday, December 12, 2010, the KatherineAlexandra Foundation and the Wexler Gallery will host the “In My Body” project, a part-photo exhibit, part-concert, part-discussion event that raises the important question: Are we truly at home in our bodies?


I won't be able to make it to this, but if you make it up there, leave a comment -- I'd love to hear how it went.

*Lest I not mention it: We're quite culpable in this. Every time I see a twiggy 13- or 14-year-old model in the pages of a major newspaper, being presented as an example of ideal "adult" body image, I have to cringe. Not only will most women never be able to look like that, but even the model herself is unlikely to have the same appearance on becoming a true adult -- healthy or not.

Photo by Getty Images. (Click image for caption.)

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 12:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Media

Avoiding holiday weight gain at social gatherings

Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center provides a guest post on healthy eating. Have questions or ideas for future topics? E-mail This week, nutritionist Sara Wittenberg (pictured) weighs in on holiday weight gain.

This time of year you are not only surrounded by joy and merriment, but food — and lots of it. From gingerbread lattes to eggnog, holiday parties with candy bowls, cookies, cakes, pies, hors d’oeuvres, turkey, ham, and bubbly drinks, the list could go on and on. All of these food and beverages combined with multiple servings may lead to holiday weight gain.

Here is an idea of how holiday munchies add up: 2 chocolate covered strawberries, 3 pigs in a blanket, 1 sugar cookie, several fresh veggies w/ 2 tablespoons of dip, just 2 crackers with 1 ounce of cheese, one 4-ounce glass of eggnog, and one 4-ounce glass of champagne adds up to 1,125 calories; and that’s just the beginning of the night. With the New Year right around the corner, get a jump start on that constant looming resolution to lose weight by avoiding the holiday weight gain. Here are some tips how:

Don’t skip out on exercise. Even if you can only squeeze in 20 minutes to your busy schedule, that is still better than nothing. Try to incorporate activity in other ways too: Park farther from the mall to get more of a walk in, or take the stairs wherever you can.

Never go to a party hungry. This can lead to eating more than you expected or wanted. Eat a small snack with fiber and a bit of protein before hand: for example, apples with low fat string cheese.

Bring a healthy dish to a party. That way you know for sure you have something healthy to nibble on while you socialize.

Avoid food courts while getting your holiday shopping done. This can be a busy stressful place, leading you to make hasty wrong choices. Pack light snacks, such as fresh veggies or air popped popcorn.

Take the focus off food. Plan a holiday event where food is not the star, such as a gift wrapping party. Keep the snacks minimal, plus your hands will be too busy to eat.

Slim up your recipes. Choosing low fat/fat free and lighter calorie versions of ingredients can help cut the calories of a dish.

Plan. If you know you have a holiday event coming up, make sure the rest of your meals leading up to it, and after, are healthy and portion-controlled. Save the treats for the event.

Be mindful of alcohol. Often, the more you drink, the more you eat. And, mixed drinks can pack just as heavy a calorie punch as food. Avoid cocktails made with sugary syrups, juice, cream and regular soda.

Veggies and fruits still ring true here. Opt for munching on fresh versions of these fibrous foods. They can help fill you up and keep your mouth busy and satisfied without consuming lots of calories. Just watch out for those sneaky dense dips, as they can load the calories back on.

Portion control. It’s OK to taste and enjoy the food, but watch out for the seconds, thirds and fourths.

Remember, this time of the year should be about squeezing in time for friends and family and not squeezing into your jeans. By making these healthy choices, you can avoid the holiday weight gain. Share your own tips in the comments.

Posted by Kim Walker at 6:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Nutrition

December 7, 2010

Meet cyclists in Mount Vernon on Friday

What's better than one guy on a bike blasting musical festivity? A dozen -- especially if they shop in my neighborhood, which they may or may not do. Via Bike Baltimore:

C”mon out and join us for a brisk, evening ride under the lights of Baltimore!

The HOLIDAY LIGHTS BIKE RIDE starts at the illuminated Washington Monument at 7pm on Friday, December 10th.

Read more>>

The meetup page linked on BB urges riders to bring lights and music on their trip, which is likely to hit the holiday decorations near my house.

Our dog is in what could be charitably described as a constant state of paranoia on her walks this year, so I'm personally going to try to avoid contact with this likely-to-be-noisy group, even as I give them publicity and wish them well.

Baltimore Sun photo by Gabe Dinsmoor. View a full gallery here.

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 6:12 AM | | Comments (0)

December 6, 2010

Weekly walking/running roundup

What I’m doing: Not sure yet. I might head down to the Figgy Pudding race if time and budget allow.

Why: It's been months since I took part in a Baltimore race.

What else I recommend: The Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk for Arthritis also looks like a fun city event. A couple friends have also mentioned interest in the Anniversary Run.

Other options:
Daily Glen Burnie walking program, Annapolis walking ghost tour

Frederick Reindeer Rescue Run, 4th Annual Fells Point Figgy Pudding Race, NCR Trail Snails group run, Berlin Reindeer Run 5K & 1 Mile, HCI Santa Shuffle 5k Run/1 Mile Fun Walk

Westminster Sunday group run, Rockville Jingle Bell Jog 8K, Anniversary Run 15K, Baltimore Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk for Arthritis, Glen Echo Bread Run 10K, RASAC "Rocky" 5-miler, Legends of the Fall series (final event)

Monday run in Federal Hill

What did you do last weekend? Upload race photos here.

More events | Submit an event | About these roundups

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 1:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events, Running, Walking, Weekend, Weekly roundups

December 3, 2010

Interesting idea for flexibility

Like many distance runners, I'm not particularly flexible. In fact, that's an understatement: I can't even touch my toes. When I wear long pants on a day that doesn't warrant them, however, I'm usually able to get another inch or two out of my stretches.

With that idea in mind, one company is offering an electric yoga mat. At over $200, it's a bit pricey for me, but I can imagine that this would be useful for somebody. From Picture of Health:

The idea behind hot yoga is warm muscles are more limber and stretchy -- during class at a studio, the air temperature is turned way up while you do your poses.

The company says its SolarFlex mat uses far infrared heat to do the job in your house. It can be set to 68 to 140 degrees. The technology is used in a lot of therapy products, and some others also are pitching the idea of a heated mat for exercise.

Read full article >>

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 4:46 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Yoga

Kitchen exercise

Doing a lot of holiday cooking? The kitchen, says Kaitlin Watts, an exercise physiologist, is a convenient place to add basic exercises.

"You’re going to be baking cookies for the holidays, right? So these are good things to do," says Watts.

A cardiopulmonary rehabilitation therapist at the Baltimore Washington Medical Center, she suggests these exercises to her patients recovering from heart or lung ailments and surgery who she thinks can handle mild exercise.

Try these:

1. Do pushups agains the sink and counter. Stand up straight facing the counter, grab onto it, and without moving your feet, lean forward to the counter and push yourself back to a standing-up-straight position.

2. Lift weights. Put those 1-pound cans of cranberry sauce or bags of nuts or chocolate chips in your hands. Do bicep curls by bending your elbows. Work your triceps by doing the curls over your shoulders.

3. Mix batter by hand. That will work your arms.

4. Work those legs while peeling potatoes. Doing that standing by the sink? Alternating legs, slowly lift the heel of your foot to your butt. Sitting? Alternating legs, lift each leg from the knee down so that it it sticks straight out.

5. Waiting for the timer to buzz? Hold onto the counter and roll up onto your toes to work your calves. Use the counter for balance and do squats.

She suggests starting with one set of 8 to 15 reps, then a good stretch. You can work up to more, but don’t overdo it, Watts says. "You don’t want to be sore a day later when you’re going shopping."

Read on for more of hers, and let's hear some of your kitchen exercise ideas.

6. Wear ankle weights. A 1-pound weight on each ankle while you maneuver around the kitchen adds a little, barely noticeable resistance.

7. For heavy lifting, do a few lifts using a gallon milk jug. A full gallon of milk weighs a little more than 8 lbs. You can do bicep curls carefully, holding the jug by the handle so that the jug is straight up. Do not do this over your head or shoulders or turn the jug sideways or upside-down.

8. Try dancing -- at a not-exhausing pace -- to a few seasonal tunes while waiting for the oven timer to announce the snickerdoodles are done.

Posted by Andrea Siegel at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)

December 2, 2010

Kenenisa Bekele returning to track; Hall returning to Boston


Kenenisa Bekele, a world & Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion, has announced that he plans to return to professional racing, according to

Bekele's dry spell came thanks to a muscle injury suffered after competition in Berlin, the article states.

On the other side of the globe, marathoner Ryan Hall chose the same week to announce another type of comeback attempt -- this one being of a nationalistic nature. Hall will make another attempt to become the first American winner of the Boston Marathon in decades.

Photo: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 5:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Running

December 1, 2010

Tips to curb mindless eating

Each week a nutritionist from the University of Maryland Medical Center provides a guest post on healthy eating. Have questions or ideas for future topics? E-mail This week, nutritionist Faith Hicks (pictured) weighs in on mindless eating.

To honor the Thanksgiving food frenzy, I read a book titled "Mindless Eating" by Brian Wansink. The author has dedicated much of his career creating various eating scenarios to figure out what cues in our environment cause us to overeat. Here are some of Wansink’s tips to help keep our splurging tendencies in check:

Small dishes

I’m sure you’ve heard the advice to use smaller plates to help curb how much you eat. However, did you know that serving from a smaller serving bowl might keep you from overeating? Another helpful hint is to dish up your food in the kitchen instead of at the table. You may be less likely to have that second helping of mashed potatoes if you have to walk farther to get it! Consider replacing your drinking glasses with tall, thin ones. You will pour a smaller serving into a taller glass than a short one.

Danger: Food + TV

Watching TV can be a doubly dangerous situation for eating quite a few more chips than you realize. Those vivid, saliva-eliciting food and restaurant ads can prompt a craving for something to munch on when you really are not that hungry. When you focus your attention on a TV show and you happen to be snacking, your brain is not registering the satiety from the snack, causing you to overindulge. Try putting your snack in a bowl, sitting at the table and enjoying it without other distractions.

Healthy Foods: Front & Center

Foods that are easily visible or convenient to eat may prompt you to eat when you aren’t really hungry. Cut up fruits and vegetables and place them in the front of the refrigerator. On the other hand, wrap leftovers in foil and place then further from sight. If you tend to be prompted to eat by the sight of sweets, consider putting the candy dish in the pantry instead of on the coffee table or kitchen island. Better yet, you may want to give the candy dish away!

Hazard: Big Bags

Beware of buying food in large packages to economize. When a pet owner buys a large bag of food, he or she serves their pet a larger portion! Not surprisingly, you consume more cereal or chips from a larger container than from a smaller one. This makes for a diet disaster for warehouse club shoppers. Re-portion foods into smaller bags if those mega packages are too good of a bargain to resist. Consider this the budget-friendly version of those 100-calorie snacks near the register at the grocery store.

I hope these small changes in your eating routines will help you curb the calories- every little bit helps, especially this time of year! For more ideas, you can check out Brian Wansink’s website.
Posted by Kim Walker at 12:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Nutrition

Tops in fitness: Share your thoughts

Where's your go-to place for a long run? What's the area's best-equipped gym, most accessible swimming facility, hottest new exercise class?

We're hoping that over the next 10 weeks, you can help us figure out the answers to those questions and more. 

Next week, we'll launch 10 weeks of fitness Top 10s. We'll list a topic, take your suggestions, add some ideas of our own, and compile them into lists. 

We're tentatively thinking of listing places for running, biking swimming and doing yoga. But we're also considering top recreation sports (and leagues), places to hike, best non-traditional fitness, best classes.

If you're got some ideas for a top 10, or if there's anything you'd like to see, let us know! 

Posted by Anica Butler at 8:00 AM | | Comments (2)
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About Exercists
Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
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Patrick Maynard, who will be writing about running and walking, has been a producer for since 2008. In 2009, he tweeted on-course for the Sun from the Baltimore Marathon, finishing in just under 4 hours and almost managing to run the whole time. He sometimes walks to the Sun offices on Calvert Street.
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Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
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Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
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