jo skates

Thoughts about skating and the practice of everyday life

Elliptical adventures

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Vacation never stops me from thinking about skating! Last week we stayed for a night at Ashcroft, a small town in British Columbia. This town was established in the 1860s by settlers who came in search of gold and wound up establishing a way station for prospective miners. It is one of the driest places in Canada south of the high arctic, and has been the set for filming desert locations in movies and television.

Even tiny towns in Canada have their own skating rink! And curling. What does this say about Canada?

Sigh.

Anyway, I’ve been using my time off the ice to work on more general aspects of fitness, which includes improving my aerobic fitness. I feel like I’m pretty good these days about working on alignment, flexibility, and strength (including core and upper body strength). The one piece that has dropped away in the past few years has been making sure that I get my heart rate up on a regular basis. While I feel like my cardio fitness level is basically still pretty good, I definitely should be building in some deep breathing (I did write “gasping for air” but that sounds a bit too dramatic) back into my life.

While visiting my in-laws in Portland, OR, I used the elliptical trainer, which has way more bells and whistles than my exercise bike at home. I had fun trying to keep up with the different fitness programs on the computerized screen. I didn’t realize that I could burn 100 calories in 6 minutes! (Okay, I know that’s not really true, but what other fantasies can we hold on to in life?)

I also enjoyed trying to rev up my heart rate using the elliptical (less impact than the treadmill). Since I have a fairly low pulse to begin with (usually around 60 bpm), it is a bit of a challenge to figure out how high I should make it go. I seem to have trouble getting past the low-80s, even when I’m–ahem!–gasping for air.

After I stop, both my heart rate and breathing go back to normal fairly quickly, so no worries here about over-exertion in the exercise room. Plus, I keep my slack-key Hawaiian guitar soundtrack on, which as we all know immediately translates to a certain amount of chill.

How will this new-found fitness goal translate into skating terms? In the past month, I’ve tried to organize my practice time on the ice into three different parts:

  1. warmup and basic edges, including progressives, swing rolls, power pulls, cross strokes
  2. turns, loops, twizzles
  3. compulsory patterns (Kilian and reverse Kilian, Starlight, Viennese, Quickstep)

Since I’m not doing a program, it’s important to figure out how to make an aerobic element part of the routine. I should probably start adding in 3-5 minutes of power stroking in there once in a while. I need a different soundtrack!

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Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

6 thoughts on “Elliptical adventures

  1. Nothing to be ashamed of when gasping for air. That’s usually me trying to catch an elevator to my floor at work! Lol. Have you heard of flutists doing circular breathing? Now that will blow your mind (pun intended). These amazing musicians continuously blow one stream of air without pausing for a breath. Something I never got the hang of in college but very impressive. Could have been helpful for skating I bet!

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  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Eva. As a clarinetist, I tried circular breathing too, but never got the hang of it–would have been useful for running programs, where the open-mouthed fish look is not particularly welcomed by spectators.

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  3. Programs really are the most aerobic thing in skating, I really notice that whenever I do have a program. I’d think that running through your dances would be the next best thing!

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    • It would be good to run through the dances, that’s true. But it is so tempting to quit after just one pattern, or whenever the dance goes a little wonky, which is usually before one pattern is done!

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  4. And P.S., I’m glad you are enjoying the PNW: when are you going to come skate with me?

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