2015 Fitness Challenge planned in Round Rock

Family members participate in a Zumba class in this file photo from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Family members participate in a Zumba class in this file photo from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Want to get the entire family on track in the new year?

Head to Round Rock for the 2015 Fitness Challenge, set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Round Rock Baca Center, 301 Bagdad Avenue.

A 5K Family Fun Walk (dogs allowed), a push-up contest, mini-classes in Jazzercise for seniors, seated yoga, Zumba, a fitness boot camp, food, health and fitness vendors, kids vision screenings and live music are all planned.

The event is sponsored by the Round Rock Noon Lions Club. Admission is $5 for singles, $10 for families and $10/person for the push-up contest. Proceeds will fund Lion projects in the community and around the state.

For information on the event call 512-934-2491. For push-up contest information call 512-468-8248.

Fit City’s favorite races of 2014 …

Team Statesman jumps for joy before the 2014 Zilker Relays. Photo by Chris LeBlanc.
Team Statesman jumps for joy before the 2014 Zilker Relays. Photo by Chris LeBlanc.

I raced up a mountain, down a river, through city streets and across a desert in 2014. In all, I crossed the finish line of about 15 events last year, and I’m already plotting my 2015 race calendar.

Here is my 2014 list of favorites …

  • Favorite free run: For nearly 20 years, runners have criss-crossed the city for the Black-Eyed Pea Run, starting near the Arboretum and heading downtown, with detours up Mount Bonnell for the gluttons for punishment in the group. For 2015 (because of city regulations) the Jan. 1 running route will start at finish at Rogue Running on Pressler and stick to city trails. Not sure if that’ll be as much fun, but I’m going to find out.
  • Favorite Long Distance Trail Run: For the last three years, I’ve headed to Big Bend for the Big Bend Ultra, where I opt for the 25K distance. Trust me when I tell you there’s nothing more soul soothing than watching the sun come up over the Chisos Mountains at Big Bend National Park. I’m headed west again this year, but the race moves to Big Bend Ranch State Park farther west. Onward!
  • Favorite local open water swim: The Cap2K starts at Red Bud Isle and finishes at the Texas Rowing Center next to Austin High School. The spring swim is chilly, it’s refreshing, you can watch great blue herons and turtles along the way, and it’s downhill – what else do you need? A post-race picnic? OK, it’s got that too.
  • Favorite Mountain Bike Event: Again, head to the Big Bend, where Texas Parks and Wildlife Department teams with Desert Sports to put on a multi-day mountain biking event which includes my favorite ride – a two-day journey with an overnight in the Big House at the park’s headquarters in Sauceda, where you can take a hot shower. Heaven.
  • Favorite Austin 10K: I love the annual rite of spring we call the Cap 10K, especially when you’ve made it up that brutal hill on Enfield Drive and are about to turn left onto the Loop 1 access road and a high school band underneath the overpass starts playing the theme from “Rocky.” Chills, every time.
  • Favorite Beach Town 5K: Another first for me in 2014 – the Bay St. Louis Crab Festival 5K. The best part? The prizes – an assortment of fireworks, which we set off that night along with several hundred other revelers near the beach.
  • Favorite Out-of-State Road Race: I’ve been racing the Blueberry Festival 5K in South Haven, Michigan, for more than 20 years, so I’m biased. Two years ago they added a 10K, so I did the races back to back. I did them again this year. The weather’s always cool even thought it’s August, and finishers get to gorge on blueberries. Yum!
  • Favorite Costume Run: When else can I pull out my Superwoman costume, complete with cape, and dash alongside Superman and Batman? The CASA Superhero Run, which moved this year to the Cedar Park Center, makes me feel fleet-footed and super-powered, and proceeds go to a great cause.
  • Favorite Relay: For the first time in 2014, I ran the Zilker Relays, a long-time tradition among the city’s running community. Teams of four blaze through Zilker Park for city-wide bragging rights, but you don’t have to be an elite to participate. This year, the weather changed for each leg of the race – hot and sunny, then pre-storm humidity, then downpour and finally clearing skies. And Team Statesman won the media division!
  • Favorite Out-of-State Trail Run: I tackled The Rut 12K in Big Sky, Montana this year, running about 6 miles straight up a mountain, then descending 2 more (with the help of ropes to get down the steepest parts) to the base. I still can’t believe how much fun it was!

What’s on your 2015 race calendar?

Kick off 2015 with one of these runs or hikes

The best way to start off New Year’s Day? Doing something physical, of course.

My routine always includes a long hike, swim practice or cross-town run. It helps me clear my head, shake off any late-night festivities and start the new year on a healthy note.

Here are some suggestions if you’re looking for a way to get your Jan. 1 sweat on …

10676319_10100354254203778_8267562898893328675_n[1]

  • Join me at the annual Black Eyed Pea Run, hosted by Rogue Running. This casual, untimed, just-for-the-heck-of-it run, now in its 20th year, covers 13.1 miles (or you can opt for a shorter distance) and wraps up with black eyed peas, coffee, mimosas and fun with runners from all corners of our city. Even better? It’s free and open to anyone. Note: The route has changed. Due to new restrictions, this year’s run will stick to the city’s trail system. Maps provided. Meet at 9 a.m. Jan. 1 at Rogue Running, 410 Pressler. For more information go here.
  • pedernalesGo for a hike at one of dozens of Texas state parks hosting First Day Hikes. Among the Central Texas parks participating are Bastrop State Park, Blanco State Park, Buescher State Park, Colorado Bend State Park, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Garner State Park, Guadalupe River State Park, Government Canyon State Natural Area, Inks Lake State Park, Lyndon B. Johnson State Park, McKinney Falls State Park, Palmetto State Park and Pedernales Falls State Park. The events are free, but park entry fees apply. For a complete list of First Day Hikes in Texas state parks go here.
  • Life Time will host the annual Commitment Day 5K Fun Run on Jan. 1. The run is open to members and non-members who have registered in advance and starts at 10 a.m. at Life Time Fitness South Austin, 7101 S. MoPac. For more information go here.
  • The Kyle Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau will host the Kyle-O-Meter Resolution Run at 9 a.m. at Wallace Middle School. You’ll even have enough time to make it over to the Polar Bear Splash at the Kyle City Pool after the awards ceremony. Entry fee is $30 for adults, $20 for runners 18 and under or $15 for the Kids Dash. For more information go here.

It’s 0.0 miles of fun at Philly Instant Gratification Run

zeropointzero500And now, ladies and gentlemen, the race you’ve all been waiting for: The Philadelphia 0.0 Instant Gratification Run.

The 14th fattest city in the United States has unveiled a new race that involves merely stepping from the start line over the finish line.

Yep, one step and you’re done, ready to move on to the main event, the post-race par-tay, complete with adult refreshments and live music.

Really.

Organizers say they started the race as “a way to bring runners and non-runners alike together in the middle of winter to enjoy the best part of any running event – the post-race festivities.”

Like other running events, you pick up your race bib (your ticket into the party) and event T-shirt at packet pickup before race day. Race winners will be selected by random drawing.

Entry fee is $35. (Actually, I’d like this idea even more if proceeds benefited a non-profit organization.)

Getting off your butt to actually trek down to the race location requires too much exertion? Don’t worry. You can still run it virtually – for $28.

It’s on for Feb. 6. If you’re headed to Philly, register here.

Win a free Streaming Colors Fitness Journal right here!

The Streaming Colors  Fitness Journal lets you log your workouts in color.
The Streaming Colors Fitness Journal lets you log your workouts in color.
Here's a page from Pam LeBlanc's October 2014 calendar.
Here’s a page from Pam LeBlanc’s October 2014 calendar.

It might look ordinary, but I’m pretty sure this calendar is magic.

I’ve been using the Streaming Colors Fitness Journal since 2004, and I blog about it almost every year because I love it so much. (I swear I’m not on their payroll, although I’ve been such a loyal customer they sent me three spare calendars this week to give away … more on that later.)

The concept is simple. A calendar with big open white squares divided into neat sections. A pack of fluorescent markers. You set up a code – blue for swimming, pink for running, orange for bicycling, for example – and color in sections based on the activities you do that day.

For me (and yes, I’m kind of compulsive), it works. I love to see those blank white squares get filled in with color. I love it so much that it inspires me to ride my bike to work, hit swim practice and go for runs.

You can code it however you want – designating colors for doing things you want to incorporate into your lifestyle. I’ve logged everything from my teeth flossing habits to water consumption and vitamins.

It gives me a sense of accomplishment. And it’s fun to go back and look at past years. I can tell you that I swam 2 miles and biked 15 on Sept. 26, 2006, or that I biked 100 miles on July 15 and again on July 16, 2006. (And that I didn’t do anything taxing the next day.)

The point is, it works for me.

Low tech. Simple.

Effective.

So … the kind folks at Streaming Colors sent me three extra calendars to give away to readers. (If you want to order one on your own, go here.)

Who wants one? Post here, telling me why you deserve it. Best answers win.

Orangetheory Fitness, Austin Trail Running Company set to open in Austin

Orangetheory will open in Austin on Jan. 1.
Orangetheory will open in Austin on Jan. 1.

Look for two new fitness stores opening in Austin in coming weeks…

  • Members of the new Orangetheory Fitness opening Jan. 1 at at 730 North FM 620 in the Four orangetherapyPoints area can get the coveted “orange effect” through heart-rate monitored, interval training group classes. Sessions last 60 minutes and include both cardiovascular exercise and strength training. Husband and wife team Stephanie Wang-Levy and Ron Lev are opening the gym, which is equipped with treadmills, water rowers, TRX suspension training machines and free weights. For more information call (512) 368-9343 or go here.
  • The Austin Trail Running Company will open at 13219 North Highway 183 early next year. The store will specialize in higher-end gear built to last on the rugged trails of the Hill Country and West Texas and the softer flatter terrain of East Texas. Co-founders of the shop are Pam Harght, an ultra-runner, entrepreneur and running coach, and Peter Kirby, who has a background in natural health and has started several companies. For more information go here.

Austin B-cycle celebrates a year with 99-cent day passes this Sunday

Pam LeBlanc takes a B-cycle for a spin. RESHMA KIRPILANI/American-Statesman
Pam LeBlanc takes a B-cycle for a spin. RESHMA KIRPILANI/American-Statesman

A year into Austin’s grand bike share experiment, organizers say the system’s been a rousing success.

Austin B-cycle celebrates its one-year anniversary with $1 day passes this Sunday. RESHMA KIRPILANI/American-Statesman Staff
Austin B-cycle celebrates its one-year anniversary with $1 day passes this Sunday. RESHMA KIRPILANI/American-Statesman Staff

To celebrate, Austin B-cycle will offer 24-hour access passes for $1 this Sunday. (A day pass normally costs $8.) The pass buys you unlimited trips of up to 30 minutes for a day; usage fees for trips longer than 30 minutes still apply. The $1 passes can be purchased at any of the system’s 45 stations.

The organization is also unveiling a new monthly membership for $10.99 a month plus a one-time $15 enrollment fee. They’re available here.

Austin B-cycle launched last December with 11 stations in downtown Austin. It expanded to 40 stations in March 2014 and now operates 45 stations. As of this week, more than 154,000 trips had been logged.

A $1.5-million federal transportation grant matched by $500,000 in private donations funded the initial equipment. Today the City of Austin owns the system and the local non-profit Bike Share of Austin manages it.

Passport and ClassPass programs let you take fitness classes all over town

Dane Krager works with client Tim Zeddies at Dane's Body Shop. The gym is part of the new PassPort system. Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman
Dane Krager works with client Tim Zeddies at Dane’s Body Shop. The gym is part of the new Passport system. Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman

Who needs a membership to a single gym anymore?

A second company that allows members to pay one monthly fee and take classes at fitness centers all over the city has expanded to Austin.

San Francisco-based fitmob this week launched its Passport program here. Members pay $99 per month and get access to classes and facilities at studios including Pure Barre, Kor180, Dane’s Body Shop and Wanderlust Yoga.

“With Passport you can take a spin class one day, yoga the next, and boxing after that all for one flat monthly rate, and all through the fitmob app,” fitmob CEO Raj Kapoor said in a press release.

He says both members and gym owners benefit – members by getting to try out a variety of classes, and owners by filling up their classes and getting exposure to a wider audience.

Fitmob members can sign up for classes online here or via a mobile app that provides a class overview, workout format, intensity level, community reviews and amenities.

Studios or trainers that want to partner with fitmob on its ‘All You Can Sweat’ Passport can email partners@fitmob.com.

Another company, ClassPass, announced a similar program in Austin earlier this month. Like fitmob, it offers a fitness “pass” that lets holders take fitness classes at studios all over Austin.

So far, more than 30 Austin fitness studios, from Ballet Austin and The Bar Method to Dharma Yoga and Ride Indoor Cycling, have joined the ClassPass network. A membership costs $99 per month.

W Austin hotel hosts ‘Om for the Holidays’ event

312I like this concept.

Things get hectic the week before Christmas, and yoga is one way to catch your breath and soothe your soul.

W Austin has teamed with yoga studio CorePower and its onsite restaurant Trace to host a stress-free morning at the swanky downtown hotel. They’re calling the event “Om for the Holidays.”

The event, set for 9-10 a.m. Saturday at the hotel, 200 Lavaca Street, will include a complimentary group yoga class set to the tunes of DJ Ash, followed by healthy bites from Trace.

To register go to http://www.whotelaustin.com/yoga.

Inaugural South Padre Island Marathon set for Nov. 14, 2015

The inaugural South Padre Island Marathon and Half Marathon is scheduled for Nov. 14, 2015.
The inaugural South Padre Island Marathon and Half Marathon is scheduled for Nov. 14, 2015.

I love the idea of working a running race into a trip.

I’ve done races in the Big Bend of Texas, South Haven, Michigan, and Big Sky, Montana. It gives you a new perspective on wherever you’re visiting, and keeps you active while you’re traveling.

Now I’ve got another in my sights – the South Padre Island Marathon and Half Marathon.

The race, scheduled for Nov. 14, is new in 2015. Both the full and the half routes start in Port Isabel, cross over Laguna Madre and finish at Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill, touted by race organizers as the largest beach bar in America. Expect a flat course (well, except for that one big hill on the Causeway), with glimpses of the ocean and bay.

Registration is open here. Entry is $65 for the half and $90 for full marathon until Dec. 31, when prices increase by $10 (and continue to increase periodically leading up to the event.)

Participation is capped at 2,500 for the full marathon and 6,500 for the half. If you register by Friday, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a two-night stay at Schlitterbahn during marathon weekend.