Trying to get in shape? Try something a little different

The new year is finally upon us! Any shortcomings of years past quickly fade as we vow to make this year our best ever. And if you’re like most, this includes heading to the gym to get back into shape. While this is an effective approach, it’s important to keep your options open, especially when it comes to long-term success. Mixing in activities that are fun and physically challenging can be refreshing and will be more likely to keep you consistent throughout the year.

Besides, there are many options here in our great state. Whether you’re looking for a little winter adventure or prefer to stay indoors, here are four popular choices to help kick start your year!

LET IT SNOW: Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are great ways to take in the outdoors in the winter and provide a challenging workout. You can burn as much as 1,000 calories per hour!

There is no shortage of options when it comes to finding some epic snow. Idaho offers a Park ‘n’ Ski program to 16 nordic areas throughout the state with more than 180 miles of trails. (Visit for other ideas about where to go.)

KICK THOSE WINTER BLUES: Not a fan of the snow? Consider joining an indoor soccer league. Soccer is a fast and furious sport that is fun and will help improve your speed, agility, power and cardiovascular endurance.

Plus, the Treasure Valley has two indoor soccer centers to choose from, with leagues for all skill levels. So if you’re looking for an intense workout and have a competitive side, indoor soccer will not disappoint!

GET YOUR LATIN GROOVE ON: Zumba has taken the fitness industry by storm. Primarily a cardiovascular workout, Zumba is inspired by Latin rhythms and combines a variety of movements including salsa, meringue, hip hop, belly dancing and more. All in all, Zumba provides a great workout and is the perfect way to shake things up.

INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING: is great for improving endurance, total body strength, and a fun way to add some adventure to your routine. Boise has two gyms dedicated exclusively to rock climbing. The YMCA also offers several climbing walls.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has more than 15 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or

Get ready for the slopes before the snow hits

For many of us, that winter chill in the air can only mean one thing – ski and snowboard season is right around the corner.

While we eagerly wait for the first snowflake to hit, there is no better time to get ready physically.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced rider, the first day on the mountain can often be a humbling experience, leaving your body sore and exhausted. In our haste for fresh powder, it’s easy to forget the vigorous demands a day on the slopes brings. Why not make this the year you prepare for it?

While a traditional strength and cardio conditioning program is important for any sport, a solid ski-conditioning program should focus on improving core strength, power, balance and reactive components as well.

In conjunction with your current fitness routine, add these exercises into the mix two to three times a week, and you’ll feel more like master of the mountain this season.

SINGLE LEG BALANCE:  Stand with tall posture and contract your core muscles.  Slowly lift one leg 4-6 inches of the ground while maintaining balance and posture.  Balance for 1 minute and repeat on the opposite leg.  For more challenge, try balancing on a BOSU.

BOSU MOGUL HOPS:   Hold onto a stable object. Stand on top of a BOSU with your feet together, pointing at 11 o’clock with your knees slightly flexed.  Contract your abdominals, hop and rotate your body to 1 o’clock, sinking your hips as you land.  Quickly hop back to 11 o’clock and repeat from the 11 to 1 position for 30-60 seconds.  For more challenge, perform the exercise with no hands without compromising control.

BENCH DIPS:  Position your body perpendicular to a flat bench.  Place your hands just outside your hips.  Lift your hips up and slightly away from the bench, maintaining tall posture.  Keep your heels on the ground and your legs straight.  Staying upright, slowly lower yourself toward the ground until both arms are bent at a 90 degree angle.  Push yourself back to an upright position.  Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.  For an easier option, bend your legs to a 90 degree angle and repeat the same movement.

BOX JUMPS: Stand slightly behind a 12- to 24-inch box or platform. Squat down, and quickly jump on top of the box. Try to land softly, sinking your hips as you land. Step off of the box and repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions. For an added challenge, jump continuously on and off of the box for the same number of repetitions.

SIDE PLANK: Lie on your side. Keep your body in a straight line with your legs stacked on top of one another. Prop your arm underneath your body. Position your opposite hand onto your hip. Contract your abs, and slowly lift your hips toward the ceiling until your body is positioned straight from head to toe. Hold for two to four seconds, and then slowly lower your hips to the floor. Repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions before switching sides. For an easier option, bend your legs at a 90-degree angle while performing the exercise.

ICE SKATERS: Stand and balance on your right leg with your core contracted. Hop sideways to your left side, squatting down and touching the ground across your body with your right arm. Stay low with your chest out, and quickly spring back to your right side repeating the same move, touching down with your left arm. With control, continue this sequence for 20 to 30 repetitions.

V-SIT w/MEDICINE BALL FIGURE 8’s:  Sit upright and recline a few inches while maintaining good posture.  Support your body weight on your sitting bones while keeping your chest out, shoulders back, and abdominals contracted.  Hold a 4-8 lbs. medicine ball in front of you, slowly move the ball in a figure 8 pattern while rotating your torso.  Repeat for 10 repetitions per side.

Jason Wanlass is the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or