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Summer sports to help you let loose

Get your game on

Yoga for Runners instructor Tania Frechette demos the pigeon pose, perfect for opening the hips before a run. Credit: Neil McKinnon

Hot sticky weather will drive some people to inactivity because of indoor air conditioning oases. But if you’re willing to brave the outdoors and want to keep fit without the gym, we’ve got some ideas.
 
Biking is a great way to get rid of your spare tire by getting out of the car. The National Capital Commission’s website provides an interactive bike pathway site with detailed information on inner-city cycling. It will also tell you where to find the 90 best kilometres of mountain bike trails in Gatineau Park.
 
For a $70 annual membership fee, you can join the downtown Ottawa Bicycle Club (OBC). Depending on your skill, the organized rides will take you to Manotick, Kingston and Rideau Lake.
 
“We organize people into group speeds, so you don’t end up grouped with people going 35 km an hour for the whole ride,” says OBC president Ron Stoneham.
 
Stoneham says OBC members are diverse in gender and age. One sub-group has a nine-year-old and an 81-year-old. But before people can join OBC or ride with them, Stoneham says prospects must attend a riding clinic to learn
basic road and group etiquette.
 
If you want to get fit without biking to Nowhereville, running is a good option. Before grinding your joints into a fine powder, Tania Frechette, who teaches Yoga for Runners at Rama Lotus Yoga Centre, recommends that you prepare your body with core conditioning to ensure fewer strain injuries.
 
Frechette says warm weather and upcoming marathons have increased her group from 20 to 50 people. In her 90-minute class, she helps people prepare their muscles through yoga postures. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to take this class — marathon runners and neighbourhood joggers alike enjoy the benefits.  
 
“People who run don’t always take time to stretch properly. I see [Yoga for Runners] as a way to prevent injury and build strength.  When you run, you tighten muscles and build scar tissue. Properly stretching the muscles helps you break up the scar tissue,” says Frechette.
 
If you want to be part of a team and rugged at the same time, the Ottawa Wolves rugby club has a few straight guys, but its members are predominantly gay. Although they take competition seriously, Wolves’ communications director Dan Ziemkiewicz emphasizes it is not a stressful environment.
 
“We take winning seriously enough, but we’re not professionals. We all have lives and so do people on other teams. We always accept new players of all skill levels,” says Ziemkiewicz, who admits that until last year, he had never touched a rugby ball.
 
With a membership fee of $350 for the season ($250 for students), Ziemkiewicz says showing up for practice is the best way to find out if rugby is for you.
 
“You don’t have to pay fees to check out a practice. People should try and avoid contact activity until they have insurance,” he says.
 
For those who want a sport with less impact, softball can be satisfying. QBall is a mixed league for gay and gay-friendly individuals. The 2010 season has already started, but people wishing to start as spares are encouraged to join. The teams play at Brantwood Park, located at the east end of Clegg St, next to St Paul University. If you want more information, visit their website, ottawaqball.com, or email info@ottawaqball.com.
 
If you’re not into exercising at all and just want to gawk at skimpy bathing suits, there are many beaches around — either clothing-required or nude.
 
NCC has a list of beaches within driving distance of the Outaouais. If you want to know if they’re family-friendly, or, ahem, on the down low, there is a nude beach frequented by Ottawa’s gay community near Camp Fortune, located to the northwest of parking lot P11 on trail 36. Walking around in the buff isn’t formally permitted in the park, but it has been used by nudists since the 1930s.