by Margo Ruter
For those of us not blessed with the southern California sun year-round, staying in shape in the winter time is harder than being the cool kid in 7th grade. With the short days of dim sunlight, it can be pretty rough to get yourself out of bed at 6 A.M for a morning jog. The good news is that you have a lot of options, the bad news is that motivation doesn’t come in a package deal.
1. Get a gym-membership
It might seem like a no brainer, but getting a gym-membership early in the season can jump start a winter workout routine. Most gyms have many alternative workouts that don’t include watching CNN on a treadmill. Try taking spin classes, step-aerobics, zumba, pilates, yoga and even water aerobics (of course, mainly for those over 75 and have arthritis). The main perk for a gym-membership is the part where you get in the hot tub post workout. This calms down your muscles and gets you toasty enough to bear the winter breeze.
Most people don’t live next to a ski lodge, but snowboarding and skiing are great activities for you and a handful of friends. Just walking around with long paddles of anything stuck on your feet is a workout in itself. Add snow, a big hill, and you’re set for some cardio activity. Just please… be careful, and remember that trees are not your friends in this case.
Although snowshoeing may be a lost art, it can be fun if you live close to any sort of forest preserve. Snowshoes look like tennis rackets attached to your feet and help distribute your weight evenly across the area of snow so you don’t sink down. Because of the shape of the shoes though, you end up having to adjust how you walk. It would be a good idea to do this with a friend you can laugh at because people tend to look like ducks in this footwear.
Sledding is perhaps a nostalgic word for most, but going sledding is a great cardio activity. You need a lot of heavy winter gear, a big hill, and a sled. While going down the hill is certainly the best aspect of this activity. You have to truck your ass up a hill covered in snow numerous times throughout the afternoon only to go down again. As counter productive as it may seem, sledding gets your heart pumping.
For all of you shuffleboard fans out there who are bummed out that the season is over, rest assured that curling season is only beginning. Curling is essentially shuffleboard on ice with a tad bit more strategy involved. The game consists of two teams, each with four players who slide heavy granite slabs to targets at the other end of the ice. Scored similarly to bags (or corn-hole), this game is good for your upper body. It has been nicknamed “chess on ice” because it involves intensive teamwork to ensure that the slabs are slid to the ideal location.
6. Take a ballet class
Laugh it off, but ballet is an incredibly active art form. Most medium sized cities in the U.S. have a ballet school that offers open classes. This means that you don’t need any sort of prior dance training to be able to take the class. These classes are geared towards adults. The first half of the class consists of something called barre work. Your body gets a good stretch, and you do a lot of leg exercises. The second half of the class is where the real workout is. You jump, you run, you hold your leg up for what may seem like an eternity, but it gets your blood flowing with the rest of ‘em. The best part is that open classes don’t have a dress code. So if you’re a little weary about wearing a leotard around a bunch of strangers, don’t worry, you can usually wear sweats.
7. Buy stuff for your living room
You don’t always need to spend a boatload of money on a home gym. Places like Target have simple weights and work out videos if you have a little extra room in your living room and happen to be snowed in. Buying workout equipment is always a smart investment (if you use it) because if it doesn’t get you working out asap, then it will sit around in your basement or closet and make you increasingly guilty until you do.
8. Shoveling snow
If you have a back problem, then hire the 13 year old boy down the street to shovel your front sidewalk, but if not, then get out there and work it out. Shoveling snow is the equivalent of lifting weights and can get you working up quite the sweat. If you find yourself on a role, go ahead and do the neighbor’s sidewalk and feel great about it all for the rest of the day, until it snows again of course.
Don’t let the wind, cold, ice, snow, slush, and sad faces put a cramp in your workout style. Often working out in the winter is more fun with more people. So get your friends to go out there with you and remember to bring the whiskey-cider. Cheers.