Q: I hate running outside at this time of year because of the cold weather and the darkness factor. How can I stay in shape?
A: I get it about the dark. The cold, not so much. I like cold weather running. Except for the time I stopped at a school one frigid January morning and someone’s mother gave me a ride home because I was pretty sure my finger was getting frostbitten because I dressed like it was 20F but really it was more like 1F and I was six miles from home. I realize now that that kind woman probably felt bad for me because she was thinking of my mother. At least now that I have kids, when I see a young person doing something dumb, I think, “That kid’s poor mother. She would be worried sick if she knew what her child was doing right now. Or maybe she knows and she is washing down three Xanax with some Chardonnay this very second.”
So here are 32 things you can do to stay in shape this winter. If you can’t find one you like… maybe you’re reading the wrong blog?
If you really, really want to keep running and you can’t fathom engaging any other form of fitness:
-Run outside with a headlamp
-Run outside with a big, protective dog. Borrow a friend’s if you don’t have your own.
-Run outside with a group. Most running shops have at least one run per week that departs from the store.
-Make friends with your local bouncer and get him to run with you
-Run during your lunch break
-Talk to your boss about flexing your hours so you can either leave work before dusk and run after work, or arrive well after dawn, and run before work
-Run at a well-lit track
-Run at an indoor track. Some gyms and universities have them. The indoor track at the gym where I used to belong was awesome because there were free weights and yoga balls and other gizmos stashed at the corners. I often spiced up my runs with intermittent core work, pushups, lunges, bicep curls, etc.
-Run on a treadmill at the gym
-Run on a treadmill at your house. I love this option. I know this makes me crazy. Crazy for treadmill workouts, that is.
-Run on a treadmill at a friend’s house. My friend had a treadmill, an elliptical, and her bike set up on a trainer in her garage. Most weekday winter early mornings, she had to be home while her husband worked and her kiddo slept. Her girlfriend would come over and one of them would take the elliptical while the other took the bike or the treadmill. Genius! Workout + girlfriend time + baby monitor = multitasking at it’s finest.
-If you stay home with your kids, push them in the jogging stroller in the middle of the day, when it’s warmest. If they’re too big for that, and not prone to escape, find a track and run while they bike or play in the middle where you can see them.
-Aqua run in the pool
If you’re willing to try something different that may be out of your comfort zone, the options are dizzying… You could still maintain decent run fitness by running during the day on weekends, squeezing in one more run, either outside or on the treadmill during the week, and doing one of the below one or two times a week…
-Bar Method or Pure Barre. I would totally do this type of class if I had the time to travel to and from class and if I could commit to at least 1-2 times a week. If I don’t go with some regularity, I the ensuing soreness feels like one big very painful waste.
– Lap swimming or swimming with a Master’s Group. I prefer the latter, since the structured workout goes by faster and forces you to push yourself. As an extrovert, I like to swim with people (even if I can only talk to them when we’re all out of breath at the wall and in various states of undress in the locker room). If you have a good coach, you will get great feedback on your form.
-Step Aerobics. This is just so much fun. I don’t care if it’s considered a vintage workout.
-Jazzercise. I’ve never done this, but I’ve heard it’s fun.
-Zumba. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It is a blast. Best part- you don’t have to be coordinated to enjoy it.
-CrossFit. I’m very interested in trying a class but my diastasis separated with my last pregnancy and I think I need to be very cautious until it’s healed, so CrossFit is out for now.
–TRX strength training. We have one in our basement and I love it because it takes up very little space, every single thing you could possibly use it for engages your core, there are a ton of free You Tube videos where you can learn new exercises, and you can make it as hard as you want.
-Any kind of cardio machine at the gym, Rec. Center or YMCA (rowing machine, stationary bike, elliptical, stairmaster). If this sounds too boring for you, consider watching a show on Netflix on your phone or tablet, catching up on reading (especially if you’re on the bike, which involves minimal jiggling), listening to music, or downloading an audiobook or a podcast. I am on a mission to watch/listen to all of the 2014 Listen To Your Mother talks, I am obsessed with Serial, and I am watching Girls on my mobile HBO app, so I have no dearth of indoor cardio entertainment. Honestly, I look forward to my indoor workouts because that is when I can indulge in some wholly unproductive screen time and feel zero guilt.
-Free weights and/or nautilus at the gym or in your house
-Raquetball. I’m sure I would be a total failure at this. You should do it, though. It looks intense.
-Kickball. I would definitely do this if I were single. I’m sure it’s a fine workout, but I can’t fathom why a grownup would engage in this sport except to possibly get laid.
– Pilates. It won’t get your heart rate up but it will strengthen your core, help you run more efficiently, and prevent injuries. Since I started Pilates, I have learned to engage my core not just in class, but in life. It’s great.
-Calisthenics in your house with NO equipment. I’ve done DIY workouts at home or in a hotel room that will seriously make you work. If your workout involves pushups, planks, wall sits, burpees, squat jumps, tricep dips, jumping jacks, and you do all that stuff over and over for 30 minutes, I promise you will be sweaty and possibly miserable (in a good way).
– Climbing at your local rock gym. This is something you would do with a friend. It also makes a great date. I would not recommend it as a first date though, given that you are trusting your climbing buddy with your life.
-Aerial Dance. I’m not sure exactly what this is, but it sounds awesome and I would love to try it someday.
-Pole Dancing. My friends have a pole dancing pole in their house and it’s harder than it looks. I would love to try a class someday.
-Cross country (aka Nordic) skiing.Even I can do this. Therefore, so can you.
– Snow Shoeing. If you can walk, you can snow shoe
-Telemark Skiing. I understand this is a killer cardio workout. I’m not much of a downhill skier. I think it would just kill me.
What are your favorite cold weather workouts? Which ones did I forget?