Monday, March 14, 2011

Who needs a stairmaster when you've got this?!

I have a confession to make: I've never used a stairmaster.

It seems a little odd, given the health benefits stair climbing has and how I've probably used just about every other machine at the gym at one point or another. But for some reason, I've never felt compelled to give it a go on the bulky cardio machine.

For one thing, the lone stairmaster at the Y is a popular item among gym users; it seems to be in use almost constantly. I've also observed it to be a fairly awkward exercise to get used. More than once, I've seen a stairmaster user take a tumble off the machine as if it were covered in grease. And though I'm fairly confident I have the coordination to handle a simple stairmaster, I'd rather not risk the embarrassment with other people around.

Besides, there are other ways to get a good stair-climbing workout without using the stairmaster. As I've written in the past, Mankato's a wonderful community for hill running. As it turns out, it's also a good town for stair climbing.

At right is a photo of the stairway leading up to Bethany Lutheran College. It begins on 6th St. in Mankato travels up 188 steps (at least by my count) to the campus' Old Main building. And as BLC students can probably attest, it's a doozy of a climb.

I've recently started implementing the stairway into my running routine, reasoning that it's getting nicer outside and that it's good to mix things up once in awhile. It's pretty comparable to that section of Main Street hill for climb difficulty, plus it has all the benefits (improved balance, coordination and leg strength) that a step workout provides.

Most fitness fanatics consider running to be a cardiovascular exercise and stair running to be a combination of cardio and strength training. Thanks to stairways like this, you can get both in during an average outdoor run.

Plus, if you have a Slinky handy, you can also do this when you get to the top of the steps.

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