Quench Olympic inspiration at South Sound venues

Staff writerJuly 29, 2012 

If you’re an Olympics junkie like me, this weekend couldn’t get here soon enough.

The London Games started Wednesday (yes, two days before the opening ceremonies) and will continue through Aug. 12.

Not only are the Olympics great entertainment while cranking out miles on the treadmill, but they’re great motivation.

Nothing makes trying a new sport more appealing than watching the world’s best making it look super easy.

As it turns out you don’t have to be a world-class athlete to try these Olympic sports. You can try many of the sports right here in the South Sound.

Here are nine ideas:

ARCHERY

Where: Skookum Archers, Puyallup.

Why try: Kelly Loney, president of the Skookum Archers Club, says archery is a great way to improve concentration, focus and consistency. It also can improve upper body strength, she said. On Thursday nights, newbies can try archery at the club for $5 at 6 and 7:30. The classes include bow, arrows, coaching and safety orientation. Loney said the program is popular so get there early.

More info: skookum archery.com.

BADMINTON

Where: Tacoma Badminton Club, Lakewood.

Why try: Joe Moelders says badminton is an excellent way to improve eye-hand coordination. “It is a lot faster sport than people think,” the Tacoma Badminton Club president said. The club meets Monday nights at the Lakewood Community Center starting Sept. 10. Moelders says first-timers are always welcome and rackets can be borrowed free of charge. The club is in its 35th year.

More info: Contact Moelders at jpjm40@yahoo.com or 253-272-9883.

BOXING

Where: Your local gym or, if you’re serious, The Tacoma Boxing Club.

Why try: Boxing can be a great workout. Many gyms offer exercise classes that incorporate boxing without the worry of taking a bunch. However, if you want to get serious, former Olympic coach Tom Mustin’s Tacoma Boxing Club trains anybody 8-34 years old. Mustin also coached Queen Underwood, who’ll fight in the London Games starting Aug. 5.

More info: tacomaboxing club.com.

GYMNASTICS

Where: NASA Gymnastics, Gig Harbor.

Why try: Gymnastics is a surefire way to build strength, flexibility and balance and get into great shape, unfortunately it’s a young person’s game. Linda Smith of NASA Gymnastics says she can take athletes as old as 22 in some classes and as young as 18 months. However, for those who are older, she recommends trying a local CrossFit gym. Many CrossFit gyms use elements of gymnastics, particularly the rings. “But don’t expect to do an Iron Cross the first time,” Smith said. “It’s a process.”

More info: nasagym.com.

KARATE

Where: Washington Karate Association, Lakewood.

Why try: Washington Karate Association has three dojos, including one in Lakewood where sensei Chuck Sweigart says “people of all ages and abilities are welcome.” Since opening in 1995, the participants have used karate to improve strength, flexibility, confidence and mental focus. Sweigart’s dojo recently won six gold medals at the national championships. Sweigart is a fifth-degree black belt, three-time national champion and one of only seven World Karate Federation referees in the United States. “People can expect a safe, clean and respectful environment,” Sweigart said. He says the first appointment is complimentary.

More info: lakewooddojo. com.

ROWING

Where: American Lake.

Why try: Rowing is a complete body workout that will build strength, endurance and coordination. The South Sound area has several outlets for trying the sport, including the Commencement Bay Rowing Club on American Lake. Also available are the Olympia Area Rowing Association and the Vashon Island Rowing Club.

More info: combayrow.org, olympiaarearowing.org or vashoncrew.com.

WEIGHTLIFTING

Where: Trident Athletics, Tacoma.

Why try: Jeff Serven is a certified Olympic weightlifting coach working with about a dozen competitive athletes. He says the sport is “more than just picking up weights. It’s a challenging technical sport that requires great skill and flexibility and mental toughness.” Serven says Olympic weightlifting is great for developing power and improving your performance in your favorite sport.

More info: trident-athletics. com.

JUDO

Where: Ippon Judo Dojo, Lakewood.

Why try: Ippon Judo Dojo is where Travis Stevens first trained. This summer, Stevens is making his second appearance in the Summer Olympics and is considered a strong threat to medal. Jason Harai, chairman of the dojo’s board of advisors, says Ippon Judo welcomes new participants. The dojo meets at the Lakewood YMCA, so all participants must be members.

More info: ipponjudodojo. com.

FENCING

Where: Metro Tacoma Fencing Club.

Why try: According to the club website Metro Tacoma Fencing offers beginner classes for those 13 and older the first Wednesday evening of each month at 7:30 p.m. and the first Saturday morning of the month at 11 a.m.

More info: tacomafencing. com.

Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments to craig.hill@ thenewstribune.com and twitter.com/AdventureGuys. Also get more fitness coverage at blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure and thenewstribune.com/fitness.

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