This year our family decided that instead of experiencing a traditional Midsummer, we would take part in an active Midsummer weekend at the Vierumäki sports academy/facility/hotel. Vierumäki is known in Finland for being a training place for all kinds of athletes, from professionals to recreational athletes, and for providing a nice overall place for sports and outdoor adventures. We purchased the Midsummer package which included the hotel, food and organized sports activities for the entire family. This would be the true alternative to a classic Midsummer where most folks go to the cabin by the lake, relax and drink all weekend long.
I had no idea what I was getting into when my wife told me that we would be taking part in these organized sports activities. I thought maybe a few fun games with the children, some Frisbee and perhaps some hikes. Little did I know what types of physical activities were in store for me. I consider myself fairly athletic, so I am always up for a little challenge. We arrived Friday afternoon and had a stretching class that afternoon while the children had some fun activities for their age groups. Kids' activities throughout the weekend included circus games, gymnastics, urban warfare (think Nerf balls) and orienteering. Later that afternoon, we finished up the activities by jumping off the dock into a cold lake followed by a Sauna. That evening featured a more typical Midsummer celebration with a children's band playing along side a bar and the traditional lighting of the bonfire in the middle of the lake.
Saturday was the most intense day with exercise starting early in the morning and lasting till the late afternoon. We started with kids versus adults fun indoor soccer (football) game followed by indoor floor hockey. The kids beat the adults on most occasions. Last game was team dodge ball which brought back great childhood memories. After the morning games ended, my wife and I attended a brutal cross-fit session and then I tried Nordic walking after lunch. I had always wanted to try both cross-fit and the Scandinavian Nordic walking. The morning cross-fit session was a brutal workout and now I understand why most of the folks who practice cross-fit on a regular basis are bad asses. The afternoon Nordic walking session lasted 1.5 hours and by the end of the session the trainer had us running up hills with our poles (walking sticks). Nordic walking which is very popular in Finland, might look funny, but provides a great arm workout on top of the already great cardio workout. The poles also provide stability which can help you navigate the rougher outdoor trails. Just remember to bring your mosquito repellent, because they are vicious in the Finnish forests during the summer time. By Saturday our family was so thoroughly wiped out from a long day of exercise and activities that we hit the sack by 10 pm.
On Sunday, we had one last exercise session which was core fitness. This also turned out be a great session, but my muscles were screaming by the end. I survived the final class which was followed up by a sumptuous lunch back at the hotel. Our bodies were royally exhausted by the end of the weekend. Wasn't this supposed to be a relaxing getaway to the lake cabin and sit around drinking and eating weekend? :) Traditionally in Finland Midsummer is a weekend of relaxing with good friends by seashore or lake, but we decided this year to try something different and it was a very rewarding overall experience.