Sunday, May 9, 2010

Multisport club brings athletes together with multi-faceted expo

When you become immersed in an activity, it's good to know that there's other people out there who are just as crazy about it as you are.

For all the exercise enthusiasts and cardio junkies out there, the Inaugural Greater Mankato Multisport Club Expo served as a proclamation that they were most definitely not alone in their interests. The expo was held Monday night at X-Force Fitness and guest speakers on bike maintenance, injury prevention, triathlon transitions and general nutrition for long-distance runners.

After starting off with a group run (go figure, the phrase 'Exercise is my medicine' is on the back of the club's racing jerseys), those in attendance were broken off into groups and rotated between speakers. The guest speakers were mostly coordinated through Dawn Naples, a personal trainer at X-Force Fitness. Aside from the speakers, there was also a raffle for assorted prizes, massage tables and body fat composition tests available for those in attendance.

"We wanted to make (the expo) as inclusive as possible to all athletes," said club organizer Chris Crocker, who kept himself busy by giving the presentation on triathlon transitions, "The topics we're going over are things that all athletes are interested in. I remember when I first got into triathlons and how useful this information would've been to me at the time."

Despite being a new club, Greater Mankato Multisport has already gained some considerable local popularity. The club's Facebook group has 195 followers and Crocker said the estimated total membership is close to 300 people. The club also has a wide range of sponsors like ISJ Heart Center, Nicollet South Bike Shop and Health Improvement Partners.

"The local support for this has has been awesome," Crocker said, "There's a definite interest for it in the area. Whether it's experienced athletes or first-timers, we just want to get people out and exercising."

Crocker said the biggest appeal of the club is in the social connection it gives people. Through the club's Facebook group, members are able to set up group exercises, look for relay teams, set up carpools to races or ask for advice on training. The club also provides what Crocker describes as a "safe environment" for first-time triathletes to try their hand in the sport.

"One of the biggest things that keeps people from doing triathlons is the open water swimming," Crocker said. "But with the group swims we do, experienced swimmers are there to help get people through it."

"Besides," Crocker added. "If I can learn how to swim, anyone can."

As far as future events go, Crocker said the club will try to make the expo an annual event and that they are currently trying to set up open water swims at Hiniker Pond once summer rolls around. The group has weekly runs every Sunday morning at the Mankato YMCA and they usually have a few members sign up for most of the local racing events.

Coming from an self-proclaimed exercise junkie, I like how the multisport club is being so inclusive to all levels of exercise discipline. It's not a club for the elite athletes of the area; it's a club for like-minded individuals who are just looking for some companionship with their hobbies.

Anyone who's ever done a long run by themselves knows how bad it sucks. It's good to know that there's clubs like this out there that help make those training runs a little less lonely.

The multisport club's website can be found here.

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