My First Proper Stair Workout in Michigan… And It Was TOUGH!

Hey, look! Lots of stairs!

I spent about an hour running up stairs this morning, and it occurred to me, mid-workout, that it was actually my very first stair workout since moving to Michigan three months ago. Hard to believe, but true!

I’ve done stair races since arriving here – big ones in Toronto, Cleveland, and South Bend. I’ve used the Stairmaster at the gym, but only for 10 minutes at a time, as a warm-up. And I’ve done plenty of workouts that engage my stair muscles, like on my Bowflex Max Trainer. But I haven’t yet devoted an entire workout to stair training. Before today.

It felt great to train on the stairs. And I picked some fun stairs to train on. They’re the Phoenix Center stairs in Pontiac, Michigan. I’ve blogged about them before, after a workout when I was visiting last summer. There’s two big sets of them. One set has 54 steps, the other 56.

Each set has eight lanes, which makes counting climbs easy, because I climb each lane once and I know I’ve done eight.

My goal was endurance, since I have a stair race this weekend that will be an endurance challenge. (You’ll learn more about it in my race recap next week!)

So I climbed each set 20 times, for a total of 40 ascents. That’s 2,200 total steps up, and 2,200 total steps down. It took me about 54 minutes.

I finished the workout feeling very tired, yet energized. And I didn’t realize, then, that there’d be many more stairs to come, later in the day!

That afternoon I visited the Cranbrook Art Museum, not too far from where I’m living. After wandering the galleries, I went outside and wandered the grounds, because there’s sculptures everywhere, and the museum is on the grounds of the enormous Cranbrook Educational Community, which has schools and a science museum and acres and acres of gardens.

And stairs.

And more stairs.

And even more stairs.

Many of the gardens surround Cranbrook House, the gorgeous mansion build by the founders of Cranbrook, on the side of a hill.

There are terraces, fountains, sunken gardens, sculptures, ponds, a reflecting pool, and so much more. And connecting all of them?


This was more a leisurely stroll, as opposed to a workout, so I didn’t track my distance. I did climb all the stairs I came across, though. And I broke a sweat, but I think that’s mostly because it was a hot summer day.

I probably covered a couple miles and a couple hundred more stairs. And I’d like to go back – they offer tours of the house, just not on Tuesdays. Oh well – a great excuse to go back and climb more stairs!

Keep it up, David!


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