The Chico workout
Stay outside, keep moving and enjoy the good, healthy life
You could be forgiven for thinking that seeking fitness advice from a personal trainer means that there likely will be a lot of lifting, curling and squatting in your future. But ask local personal trainer Zach Peek what he would suggest that newly arrived students should do for their first workout in Chico, and he’s more likely to point them and their bikes toward the trails of Bidwell Park or have them meet him at the Chico State soccer fields for a pick-up game of “ultimate” (aka “ultimate Frisbee”).
“Gym training has its place,” said the soft-spoken personal trainer from In Motion Fitness, noting that, especially for those who have exercised very little, getting up to speed with some resistance training in the gym is a smart idea. But the 25-year-old Chico State grad noted that, since moving to Chico from Fairbanks, Alaska, for school in 2009 (after a stopover to play baseball at Yuba College in Marysville for a couple of years), he keeps himself in shape as much by taking advantage of this rural area’s many opportunities for outdoor sports and recreation as he does pumping iron at the gym.
“The gym is complementary,” he said.
“Most [anything you’d want] is in town, but the mountains are nearby,” Peek said, referring to the availability of everything from mountain climbing and snowboarding, to kayaking and backwoods-hiking in the nearby Sierra Nevada range and surrounding areas. “[But] Butte County is spectacular.”
The center of much of the activity is naturally Bidwell Park, with its swimming areas, athletic fields and miles of trails for hiking, running and biking. And there are dozens more parks, courts and playing fields scattered around town and at the university, not to mention a very flat and manageable terrain for bike-friendly commuting.
If there’s a philosophy to Peek’s local workout, it’s basically to always be in motion.
“I definitely recommend having a bike,” he said. When he first came to town, Peek roomed with fellow Alaskan transplant and sports enthusiast (and current CN&R Assistant News Editor) Howard Hardee. The two of them developed a routine of activity by exploring their new environment. “We both moved in together. He took his bike and I took my skateboard and we just cruised the town.”
Not only were the two friends keeping the blood moving by motoring around under their own power, but being “on the street” offered many chance opportunities for being active.
“[With a car], you’re less likely to stop for, like, a pick-up game, or something that might just interest you,” Peek said. If he and Hardee saw a group of people playing basketball or stumbled upon a swimming hole (as they did, entirely by chance, at Sycamore Pool that first summer), they were able to just dive right in.
Peek’s current routine includes a steady rotation of ultimate, swimming, riding his bike in town and mountain biking, hiking, disc golf and CARD-league baseball.
When people come to him for personal training, in addition to their fitness goals (to lose weight, improve performance, etc.), Peek asks what their job, hobbies and life goals are and tries to help them find activities they will enjoy and will naturally fit into their life. For students, he also recommends checking out Chico State’s Wildcat Recreation Center (the WREC) and Adventure Outings program for meeting fellow team-sports and outdoors enthusiasts, respectively.
Before you set yourself in local-motion, Peek advises being minimally prepared with plenty of water for your journey as well as any gear you might need along the way (cleats, flying discs and so on). And don’t overdo things right away.
“Definitely, you [should] kind of ease into anything,” Peek said, adding that, if, say, you are going on a mountain-bike ride on the trails of Upper Bidwell Park, don’t just drive out in a car with your bike, then hop on the trail and go. Take advantage of the flat roads leading out there and take an easy bike ride to warm up as well as cool down afterward.
For other activities, a light jog, or standing in place and doing some high-knee and butt-kicker cardio, will provide a sufficient warm-up. And, especially if you haven’t been active in a while, stretching after exercising is essential.
“I preach a lot in my training: smooth actions,” Peek said, emphasizing that if you “start slow and smooth” you reduce risk of injury—and eventually “slow-and-smooth becomes fast,” creating a foundation for staying in excellent shape.
Join the moving:
Of course, you don’t have to join up with a group to get moving—you can simply spend your days biking, skateboarding or walking everywhere you need to go. But there are plenty of local groups planning outdoor activities that would love to have you join in having fun while staying fit.
Adventure Outings (Associated Students)
A rock wall, plus backpacking, kayaking and wilderness trips.
BMU 008A, Chico State
Chico Area Recreation and Park District
Community recreation department, with organized leagues and tournaments for baseball, softball, tennis, etc.
545 Vallombrosa Ave.
Intramural sports and sport clubs (cycling, field hockey, ultimate, soccer, rugby, dodgeball, etc.)
WREC 166, Chico State