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The fitness diaries: Erica Woekel

Variety is the spice of life

Erica’s dog Nalu is the perfect trail running companion

The key to Erica Woekel staying fit and healthy is variety. The CPHHS Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the Lifetime Fitness for Health (LFH) Program has been active since she was young, but as a busy adult she sometimes finds time and motivation as fitness challenges.

With a lot of responsibility on her plate, keeping a schedule is helpful. Erica says that a good way for her to fit activity in to her day is through Faculty Staff Fitness or the Physical Activity Course Program.

She has a long list of activities she enjoys, but mainly sticks to riding her bike, Pilates, body weight workouts at home, contemporary dancing, lindy hop, stretching, softball and trail running. “My goal is to be active at least three times a week, and sometimes it’s four,” Erica says. “For my cardio, I just try to keep going for at least 30 minutes and if I go beyond that, great!”

Her favorite from the list? Dancing! Erica was a competitive elite dancer until she was 25 and to this day, she can’t get enough.

“I enjoy dancing the most, whether it’s ballet, tap, contemporary, jazz or modern,” she says. “I feel like I get in a great physical workout and it’s good for my soul, too.

Erica was also a collegiate volleyball player. This came after years spent skating, dancing, swimming, snowboarding, and playing soccer and basketball. She was basically participating in some type of sport at all times.

Her motivation to stay fit is simple.

hiking in Hawaii with family
Erica hiking with husband Freddie and eldest son Charlie on Oahu, Hawaii

“Mostly it’s about my well-being,” she says. “If I’m not active, I become more stressed, anxious and irritable. I also do it to get away from everything and listen to music or a podcast. It helps me to clear my head.”

Like most of us, Erica still faces personal obstacles to her fitness routine and sometimes relies on a helping hand from family.

“I like to exercise by myself because it helps me to relax,” she says. “But it’s also nice to have someone to help keep me accountable. My husband and my kids help motivate me when I want to sit and do nothing. When life is busy it’s tough to find the time to get out to exercise, but I also know it’s the best thing for me and my productivity.”

The perfect buddy

Those thinking of becoming active can follow some simple advice from Erica. “I know it’s tough, but the it’s the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself,” she says. “For those who struggle with the time management piece, I would encourage them that there is a lot of research on increased brain function and productivity after aerobic/cardio activity. So if you want to be efficient and productive, this is the best bang for your buck!”

Erica adds that if you’ve been out of activity for a while, start small and work at it gradually. “You can do it and you are worth being active and well!” she says.

With so much variety in her routine already one would think Erica doesn’t have anything else she’d like to try. But that’s not the case. New up? A ninja-style obstacle course!

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