Every year, scientists continue to learn more and more about the importance of time spent in nature for our physical and mental health. Recently, a Wall Street Journal article asked, “Is two hours outdoors the new 10,000 steps?” At Tyler Arboretum we say why not hedge your bets…and get both at the same time? Tyler’s paved Scenic Loop, garden pathways and 17 miles of trails provide plenty of scope for everything from relaxed strolls to high-intensity trail runs – all outdoors. You can get all the benefits of two hours outside and easily put in your 10,000 steps. Talk about a double dose of health and wellness!
This past September, Tyler began partnering with Evolution Community Fitness to offer a greater variety of opportunities for outdoor exercise, including group fitness and yoga. Classes make use of Tyler’s barn terrace and various walkways, and they are attracting Tyler members of all ages to exercise outdoors in an inclusive atmosphere and a beautiful setting. What does “inclusive” mean? Participants range from teenagers to seniors, and Evolution’s owner, Vicki Otmani, is a wizard at providing scaling options so that participants at all levels of experience, strength and fitness can work out together and still challenge themselves appropriately.
I chatted recently with Vicki to learn more about her approach to coaching. She’s competed at the elite level in multiple sports, most notably rowing; if you dig into her background, you might just feel a little intimidated! As we talked about her philosophy, a theme emerged that we can all relate to–balance. Of the various components of physical fitness, balance, flexibility and strength are the priorities for many of Vicki’s clients. In addition to balance as physical stability, there’s the larger concept of equilibrium, “For someone who does a lot of strength training, a hike in the woods is balance.”
What role does nature play? According to Vicki, “the role of nature is rejuvenation; a reminder that things are cyclical. It offers reflection without judgment. If I’m not achieving the goals I’m working on in the gym, getting out and spending time in nature allows me to tap into deeper things within myself.”
Vicki also reminded me of the importance of recovery: “We don’t build muscle while we’re lifting weights, but in the recovery phase. Fresh air reduces cortisol levels. That reduces inflammation in the body and allows for faster healing.”
Tyler member Kathy Adamson is sold: “Vicki is inspirational and takes the time to give us individual pointers so that we are consistently improving our form. The other participants are very friendly and encouraging. I always feel upbeat and energized when I leave class.”
If you want to get in on the action, check out Tyler’s events calendar for upcoming group fitness and yoga classes. As we transition to Tyler’s extended summer hours, you might also consider joining me for a brisk Friday morning hike (Weekend Warm-up Hike) or a longer exploration of the trails with the Chester County Trail Club. Or plan your own workout by downloading the arboretum’s Hiking Map.
After the past year, I think we could all use a little balance and rejuvenation, and the science is in — nature is the place to do it! So whether you’re brand new to Tyler or an old friend, come out to make 2021 the year of wellness and self care.