Try new workouts at Saturday’s Set Up for Fitness event

Julie Wylie will teach a sample of her Nia cardio dance workout. Photo courtesy Julie Wylie.
Julie Wylie will teach a sample of her Nia cardio dance workout. Photo courtesy Julie Wylie.

Want to get in shape but not sure how to start?

People looking for new ways to exercise are invited to Set Up for Fitness, where they can sample a variety of workouts without committing to a full class.

The event, scheduled for 2:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Northwest Recreation Center, 2913 Northland Drive, is geared toward people who haven’t worked out in a few years and want to get back into it. Admission is $5.

Experts will help participants find their best posture and show them what benefits they can gain from different types of classes.

Here’s the lineup:

  • 2:30pm Greg Kaufman, Aston kinetics
  • 2:45 p.m. Beth LaGrone, yoga
  • 3 p.m Francie Shimaya and Kay Wentworth, Shen Zhen Qi Gong
  • 3:45 p.m. Wayne Key, Tai Chi
  • 4 p.m. Lance Olian of Austin Simply Fit, weight training
  • 4:15 p.m. Julie Wylie, Nia (a cardio dance workout)

Participants should get a doctor’s approval before starting a new fitness program, event organizer and massage therapist Michelle Wald says. Those who haven’t trained recently should at their current fitness level, not the fitness level they reached the last time they exercised regularly.

For more information, go here.

Strip to your skivvies for Cupid’s Undie Run

Participants line up for last year's Cupid's Undie Run, which raises money for charity. Photo courtesy Cupid's Undie Run.
Participants line up for last year’s Cupid’s Undie Run, which raises money for charity. Photo courtesy Cupid’s Undie Run.

Runners, prepare to strip to your skivvies.

You’ve heard about the Cupid’s Chase 5K on Feb. 13. When you’re done with that, you can drop trow at the annual Cupid’s Undie Run on Feb. 20 at the Rattle Inn, 610 Nueces Street.

You don't have to run in your underpants, but it's encouraged. Photo courtesy Cupid's Undie Run.
You don’t have to run in your underpants, but it’s encouraged. Photo courtesy Cupid’s Undie Run.

The event, which features runners in their underpants (well, semi-nudity isn’t required, but it’s encouraged), raises awareness and funds research of neurofibromatosis through the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Participants trot about a mile through downtown.

Doors open at noon, with an awards ceremony at 1 p.m. and the actual run at 2 p.m. Open bar (for those who raise $250 or more) closes at 3:30 p.m.

We're lucky we live in Austin. The run takes place in 36 cities around the country, and many of them are colder than Texas. Photo courtesy Cupid's Undie Run.
We’re lucky we live in Austin. The run takes place in 36 cities around the country, and many of them are colder than Texas. Photo courtesy Cupid’s Undie Run.

Participants can run solo or as part of a team. Registration is $45 now or $55 after Feb. 6. Go here to sign up.

This year's run takes place Feb. 20 at Rattle Inn. Photo courtesy Cupid's Undie Run.
This year’s run takes place Feb. 20 at Rattle Inn. Photo courtesy Cupid’s Undie Run.

Similar runs will take place in 36 cities around the country. (We’ve got it easy in balmy Austin. Watch video of last year’s Cupid’s Undie Run in Cleveland here.) To date, the non-profit event has raised nearly $8 million for charity.

This year is special, too. Drew Leathers, the younger brother of Chad Leathers, co-founder of Cupid’s Undie Run and the inspiration for the run, recently died of neurofibromatosis. The genetic disorder causes tumors that grow on nerves throughout the body, leading to blindness, deafness, learning disabilities, cancers and chronic pain.

The event starts at noon Feb. 20. Photo courtesy Cupid's Undie Run.
The event starts at noon Feb. 20. Photo courtesy Cupid’s Undie Run.

Catch a cutie at upcoming Cupid’s Chase 5K

2016CupidsChaseLogo_wsloganRunners ooze sex appeal. Who wouldn’t want to meet one?

That’s the premise behind the Cupid’s Chase 5K, where runners advertise their dating availability and hot foot it after other exercise junkies. The race, which has been staged around the country for nearly a decade, unfolds in Austin for the first time the day before Valentine’s Day.

Participants tug on “Available” or “Unavailable” T-shirts for the event in hopes of sparking an on-course love connection.

Registration is $30 through Feb. 12 or $40 on race day. Register here.

Rather stay at home, tucked in bed? A virtual option, “Cuddle Up for the Cause,” is available for those who can’t attend in person.

The race starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 at Camp Mabry, 2210 West 35th Street. Packet pickup begins at 8 a.m.

Proceeds benefit Community Options Inc., a national nonprofit organization that offers housing and employment programs for people with disabilities.

Athletes square off at Fittest Games this Friday, Saturday

The 2016 Fittest Games begin Friday at the Travis County Expo Center. Photo by Caleb Kerr.
The 2016 Fittest Games begin Friday at the Travis County Expo Center. Photo by Caleb Kerr.

Rope climbers, sandbag slingers and weight hoisters, your spotlight awaits.

An estimated 700 athletes from around the country will gather at the Travis County Expo Center this Friday and Saturday for the Fittest Games, hosted by Jeremy Thiel, founder of CrossFit Central.

About 700 athletes are expected to participate. Photo by Caleb Kerr.
About 700 athletes are expected to participate. Photo by Caleb Kerr.

They’ll be competing in events with (scary) names like Kong 2.0, Unicorn and Hell Sprint. In all, athletes will tackle six workouts designed to test 10 elements of fitness – strength, accuracy, speed, endurance, agility, power, stamina, flexibility, balance and coordination.

The event started nine years ago as a small-scale challenge that took place once a month in Austin, Buda, Burnet and Houston. It’s grown way beyond that. Athletes compete in six divisions – Men’s and Women’s Professional, Amateur, Masters, Intermediate and Scaled Divisions, or Team.

Events test 10 aspects of fitness. Photo by Caleb Kerr.
Events test 10 aspects of fitness. Photo by Caleb Kerr.

Last year’s first place finishers, Richard Bohlken and Alexis Johnson, will defend their titles. CrossFit Games’ veterans Brooke Wells, Candice Wagner, Jenn Jones, Jordan Cook and Nick Uranker will compete, too.

A donation-based charity workout benefiting The Flatwater Foundation will take place Saturday. The workout is open to the public, and all funds raised will go to the foundation, which works to provide mental support to families dealing with cancer.

Contestants compete in six different categories. Photo by Caleb Kerr
Contestants compete in six different categories. Photo by Caleb Kerr

Single day passes are $21.49; two-day passes are $31.74 through Jan. 28 here. The Travis County Expo Center is located at 7311 Decker Lane.

Five things you need to know about the 2016 Austin Marathon

Runners make their way through the course at the 2015 Austin Marathon. Photo by Stephen Spillman for the Austin American-Statesman
Runners make their way through the course at the 2015 Austin Marathon. Photo by Stephen Spillman for the Austin American-Statesman

Are you ready?

The starting gun for the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon goes off in less than a month. We caught up with race director John Conley to learn the latest about the 2016 edition.

Here are five things you need to know. (Want more? Check the complete list in Monday’s print and digital versions of the Fit City column in the Austin American-Statesman.)

1. The course. Runners will follow the same route as last year, from a start on Congress Avenue to the hills of Exposition Boulevard to the finish in front of the Capitol.

2. The tunes. Expect garage bands, grunge bands and accordion players — more than 35 musicians in all — performing along the course.

Runners make their way along the course of the 2015 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. This year's race is set for Feb. 14, 2016. It marks the last of 19 Austin Marathons produced by Conley Sports Productions. Photo by Stephen Spillman for the Austin American-Statesman
Runners make their way along the course of the 2015 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. This year’s race is set for Feb. 14, 2016. It marks the last of 19 Austin Marathons produced by Conley Sports Productions. Photo by Stephen Spillman for the Austin American-Statesman

3. The crowd. More than 15,000 runners between the full and half marathons will line up at the start line.

4. Celebrate! This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Austin Marathon, and race organizers want to make it special. Marathon runners will get a special commemorative backpack.

5. Track a friend. A special app allows fans to track runners as they make their way along the course. Go here to learn more: track.rtrt.me/e/AUSTIN-2015#/tracker.

Haven’t registered? You still can. Go here to sign up.

Retro Fitness opens first Texas location in Austin

Retro Fitness has opened its first Texas location - on U.S. Highway 183 near Anderson Mill Road. Photo by Olympia Sobande
Retro Fitness has opened its first Texas location – on U.S. Highway 183 near Anderson Mill Road. Photo by Olympia Sobande

 

A new gym in northwest Austin offers standard stuff like circuit training and group fitness classes. But members of the 15,585-foot facility can do something most gym goers can’t – they can watch movies in a small theater while they log a workout.

Sound like your kind of place?

Diane and Todd Douglas opened the first Texas location of Retro Fitness, a low-cost fitness studio, at the southwest corner of Anderson Mill Road and U.S. Highway 183 on New Year’s Eve. The chain operates more than 140 locations, most of them in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Members get access to cardio machines, circuit weight machines (including machines with flat-screen TVs and iPod hookups), certified personal trainers and group classes in spin, Zumba, kickboxing, yoga and more. The gym is equipped with locker rooms, a supervised children’s playroom, a pro-shop and a smoothie bar. (It also has its own tanning facility, which is a bad idea according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Primates and bananas take to streets to help gorillas

Team "It's Not Twerking" competes in last year's Gorilla Run. Lukas Keapproth/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Team “It’s Not Twerking” competes in last year’s Gorilla Run. Lukas Keapproth/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

A herd of primates – and a few rogue oversized bananas – will take to the roads of Camp Mabry Jan. 30 during the sixth annual Austin Gorilla Run.

The 5K fun run and walk, which starts at 9 a.m., raises money for the new Ruth Keesling Wildlife Health and Research Center in Kampala, Uganda. The center will work with Africans to manage and care for wildlife, and will house a laboratory dedicated to studying infectious animal diseases.

This year's Gorilla Run will take place at Camp Mabry on Jan. 30. Lukas Keapproth/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
This year’s Gorilla Run will take place at Camp Mabry on Jan. 30. Lukas Keapproth/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Runners who sign up for the Austin run will get a brand-new gorilla or banana suit to keep with their registration fee. A pre-race costume contest is planned, and a Silverback After Party will feature beer from Thirsty Planet Brewing Company, plus food trucks and music.

The Denver-based Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund, which coordinates runs like this around the country, is dedicated to the conservation and protection of endangered mountain gorillas in Africa and the preservation of their habitat. For more information go here.

Larry Durbin, of Volente, puts on a helmet to fit with his team's theme of "Ben Fur" before the 2015 Gorilla Run in Austin. Lukas Keapproth/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Larry Durbin, of Volente, puts on a helmet to fit with his team’s theme of “Ben Fur” before the 2015 Gorilla Run in Austin. Lukas Keapproth/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

“We are keeping Austin weird in a fun family way, as well as bringing awareness to the critically endangered mountain gorilla,” says Frank Keesling, president of the organization.

Registration is $99.95 for adults, including a gorilla suit ($30 for kids), or $60 for a banana suit. Adults who have run in the event before and already have a costume can register for $40 ($15 for kids).

To sign up go here or call 720-524-0272.

Participants sprint away from the starting line in the Gorilla Run at Mueller Park in Austin on Jan. 31, 2015. Lukas Keapproth/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Participants sprint away from the starting line in the Gorilla Run at Mueller Park in Austin on Jan. 31, 2015. Lukas Keapproth/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Stateside plans ‘Shaun of the Dead’ zombie run on Jan. 26

Zombies like this one (actually Lake Travis Cavallette Sabrina Stephens, at a football game in 2014), are expected at a 'Shaun of the Dead' pub run on Jan. 26 in Austin. Ashley Landis for American-Statesman
Zombies like this one (actually Lake Travis Cavallette Sabrina Stephens, at a football game in 2014), are expected at a ‘Shaun of the Dead’ pub run on Jan. 26 in Austin. Ashley Landis for American-Statesman

You never know when the next zombie apocalypse will occur, but there’s a good chance you’ll find an uprising of the undead at the Stateside at the Paramount Theatre on Jan. 26.

That’s when the theater is hosting a “Shaun of the Dead” pub run and screening starting.

The British horror comedy film “Shaun” follows the trials of a man trying to juggle life with his girlfriend, mother and stepfather while coping with an apocalyptic zombie uprising. And that’s a lot by anyone’s standards, don’t you think?

ShaunPoster2016_350px

The run starts at 6 p.m., followed by the film at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include locally-brewed beer and a special gift. Or pay just $10 for the movie only. Proceeds will benefit the Paramount and Stateside Theatres.

The run will start at the theater, at 713 Congress Avenue, and head south to the parking lot of the Austin American-Statesman, just south of the river.

Live Oak Brewing will provide beer, and Dead Music Capital Band will play live music. Texas Chili Queens and Wünder Pig Barbecue Co. will sell food from their trucks.

Costumes are encouraged. The five best will receive free entry into the 2016 Paramount Break-A-Leg 5K on Feb. 14, plus two free film passes to the Paramount & Stateside Theatres.

Get tickets here.

 

For the first time, I’m scratching from a race because of injury

I've run the Big Bend Ultra for the past five years. This year I had to scratch because of an injury. I'll still be there to cheer on my friends. Photo by Chris LeBlanc
I’ve run the Big Bend Ultra for the past five years. This year I had to scratch because of an injury. I’ll still be there to cheer on my friends. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

 

I’ve never had to scratch from a race because of an injury.

Until now.

I’ve raced the Big Bend Ultra in West Texas every year for the last five years. It’s my favorite trail race – a gritty scamper through cactus- and rock-studded terrain. I do the 30K version; the crazies run 50 miles.

I came up limping after a 13-mile training run five weeks ago. At first I thought I was just sore, but when I still couldn’t run after a few days I realized it was more serious.

I’ve got plantar fasciitis.

Yes, I’m stretching and wearing a heal cup and no longer walk barefoot around my house. But it’s still sore enough that I can’t run even a block down my street. Since I’m planning to backpack the entire John Muir Trail this summer, I want to make sure it heals properly.

I’m giving my foot a break. For the first time ever, I’m going to miss an event for which I already registered.

On the positive side, this marks the first time in my 51 years I’ve had to cancel out on an event. On the negative side, oh no! Does this mean my body is officially going to start falling to pieces?

I’m still heading out to Terlingua with my friends. I’ve got friends to visit, and I’ll watch the race. Plus I’ve got four story assignments to work on while I’m there.

So yes, I’ll be busy. Just a little sad I won’t be running.

Onward!

The race is my favorite trail run. Photo by Chris LeBlanc
The race is my favorite trail run. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

Check these tips before you sign a gym contract

Women, including Natasha Ibrahim, left, work out at the Body Pump class at the Northwest Family YMCA at McNeil on Monday, January 05, 2015. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Women, including Natasha Ibrahim, left, work out at the Body Pump class at the Northwest Family YMCA at McNeil on Monday, January 05, 2015. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

It’s gym season, but before you sign a contract, check out these tips from the Better Business Bureau.

• Research the gym here before you sign a contract to check its history of complaints, customer reviews and advertising issues.

• Tour the facility. Check cleanliness and make sure equipment is in good condition. Go at a time you’ll likely use the facility to see if it’s crowded.

• Walk away from clubs that pressure you to sign a contract on the spot. Take a sample contract home to review before signing up.

• Make sure the contract lists all services and fees, and any promises made by the gym. Find out what the monthly membership fee includes and what will cost extra. Ask about the cancellation policy, and get it in writing.

We’ve got some fantastic fitness facilities in Austin.

 The second floor cardio area can be seen above the front desk at the Rundberg Lane YMCA. Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman
The second floor cardio area can be seen above the front desk at the Rundberg Lane YMCA. Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman

But remember, if losing weight or getting in shape made your New Year’s resolution list, you may not need a building filled with weights and treadmills to get there. Running groups, friends who like to walk, the public pool down the street or the dusty bike in your garage all offer good alternatives.

The Better Business Bureau processed more than 10,500 complaints against fitness centers, gyms and health clubs across the country in 2015, including more than 870 in Texas.

Most involved billing and contracts. Some people reported difficulty cancelling memberships without fees. Others said they were never advised of certain fees after signing a membership, or that charges occurred after they cancelled their memberships.

For more tips, go here.