Wes Emmert: With RPE, you won't even notice how cold it is

Participants in the Rochester PE program go through a recent workout while snow was still on the ground.

On Jan. 12, the temperature in Rochester at 10:30 a.m. was 17 degrees F with a chill factor of about zero, wind 22 miles and hour with gusts up to 28.

Just a short 24 hours earlier it was in the mid 30s. That's winter in Rochester.

I picked up my buddy Steele and we headed over to Soldiers Field track for our first session of Rochester PE. This is the same buddy I convinced to go on a short 2 1/2-hour bike ride Thanksgiving morning. He's always up for some sort of physical activity or workout. We layered up and made our way over to Soldiers' Field.

Rochester PE was profiled earlier in the P-B following their inaugural session the previous Saturday morning. Rochester PE is the brain child and fitness initiative of Teri and Dr. Mike Joyner. If you recall, I profiled Mike in an earlier column and his fitness blog, Human Limits.

While doing one of his blog installments, Mike came across an interesting community-based fitness program called Red Dog's Dog Days based in Lawrence, Kans. Red Dog, aka Don Gardner, started military-style training some 30 years ago and it has consistently grown through the years to the point where over 500 participants will attend a workout.


They now use the University of Kansas football field to accommodate the masses. For more on the background of the Red Dog's Dog Day go to;

Light jogging, group warmup

The Rochester PE started out with an introduction by Mike and Teri. We did some light jogging around the field and then came together for a group warmup. Following the warm up Teri demonstrated all the different exercises that will be at the various stations. There were 10 stations total and located at the light poles around the field.

Teri is the consummate organizer and had white boards at each station with two or three exercise choices. Participants could choose which exercise they would perform based on their ability. There is always a modified version of an exercise so that all levels of ability can participate in the workout.

We divided up into groups and went to a station to begin the first rotation. We were to perform the respective exercises at each station for two minutes continuously. The exercises consisted of pushups, squat thrusts, jumping jacks, lunges, dips on a bench, single leg squats, double leg squats, planks, situps, knees to elbows, marching in place, air punches, and single leg step-ups.

Following the first rotation, we had a recovery period, and then on to the second rotation for 90 seconds at each station. After the last station, Teri and Mike brought everyone together to remind them about next week, same time (10:30 a.m.), same location (Soldiers Field) track/field.

It was one of the fastest 60 minutes of physical activity I can remember. Once I got moving, I didn't even notice the cold. I was also layered so much, I looked like the Michelin Man.

It has all the necessary components to be successful -- fun, support and camaraderie -- and it meets consistently on Saturday mornings. It is completely free. All you have to do is sign a waiver and you are in RPE. The workouts are/will be geared to all levels of ability. You don't have to be "in shape" to participate. You do what you can. It is a positive, nonjudgmental, non-intimidating, supportive environment.


Beat winter blues

In a column in last week's P-B, Brian Duewel suggests outdoor workouts to beat the winter-time blues. This is one of those winter-time blues beaters. I, as well as Steele, had a blast. It was also a great feeling of accomplishment in braving the cold and getting a good workout.

Was I the first one to finish or do the most reps of everyone there? No, and no one noticed or cared. Everyone applauded each other for 1) showing up on a "brisk" Saturday morning. (Did I happen to mention that I'm a fair-weather type of guy?) And 2) applauded each other for getting through the two circuits. Sunday afternoon, I awakened some muscle groups that had been dormant over the past few months. I was a little tender walking down stairs.

This grass roots community-based fitness program has tremendous potential. The first session attracted 10 participants and then the next one, it was up to 20 participants. I am hoping to see it double each week.

As I help Mike and Teri with workouts, I'm not sure there will ever be the same workout back to back. We have a lot of fun ideas planned for Rochester PE and its participants. I can't wait for the warmer spring weather when we will be able to bring out some fitness toys.

For now, come on out, beat the winter blues, meet a new circle of friends, and attend when you can. You also might be surprised by some of the people you meet. Come on out and give it a try, you have nothing to lose.

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