Many of us make New Years Resolutions around health, and especially around exercising more. Sound familiar? But then when it comes time to make these resolutions happen, it’s cold, dark and wet outside. The gym is of course an option, but that can get real old, real fast. And the couch seems so much more welcoming on cold wintry days. So what to do?
The good news is that there are plenty of indoor non-traditional-gym workouts available, and if you search in the app store, you’ll be sure to find lots of exercise apps providing guided workouts. But there are also some outdoor workouts that you may want to give a try. Exercising in the cold burns slightly more calories since your metabolic rate increases to warm your body. The cold fresh air can also invigorate you, waking you up and stimulating your senses.
Below are my favorite indoor and outdoor winter workouts!
- Spin. Well this one’s a no-brainer since I teach the stuff (stop by Revolution Fitness if you’re ever in Santa Monica). But imagine this: a warm dark room with heart-pumping music and an already-choreographed ride led by a motivating instructor. There’s no planning or clothing layering involved, the only work you have to do is to throw yourself into the workout and sweat. You’ll forget that it’s freezing outside in no time. My average zero-to-sweat time is about 8 minutes.
- Pilates. Talk about good pain. Pilates strengthens the muscles you’ve been wanting to strengthen (abs, quads, glutes?) and the ones you didn’t even know existed (why does it hurt when I sneeze?). I’m talking about pilates on a reformer machine here (mat pilates is also great but typically less intense), or in my case the PROformer machine which is like normal pilates on steroids. Pilates is also great for enhancing balance, flexibility and coordination.
- Rock wall climbing. Looking to satisfy that adventurous spirit? Find an indoor rock climbing all and put your mind and body to the test at the same time. Strategize on the best placement for your hands and your feet while working your shoulders, arms, legs and back muscles!
- Yoga. Here’s where you can really nurture your mind and body at the same time. With its original foundations in meditation, yoga gives you an opportunity to slow down and bring your attention to your breathing, while also working on strength and flexibility. There are many types of yoga classes that emphasize different elements of the practice (e.g. more or less focus on fitness), and different teachers have a big impact on how you connect with the class, so try a few different teachers and classes (there are online classes available too) and find one that suits your objectives and that you resonate with. Try a hot yoga class if you really want to counter that cold outside.
- Dance-oriented classes. There are a number of dance-themed classes popping up in cities all over the US these days. My favorites are barre and zumba. Barre is similar to pilates in that it’s more of a strength-training workout and really gets your legs and core. Zumba is just pure fun cardio.
- Indoor rowing. You don’t need to be outside in a cold river to experience the benefits of rowing. An indoor rowing session essentially combined a leg press with a dead lift with an upper body row so you’re truly getting a full body workout. Your speed and resistance determine how much of a cardio workout you get as well. Some gyms have indoor rowing classes where you can do this with other people in unison. And keep an eye out for the machines that actually have water in them. It sounds and feels like you’re actually on the water!
- Interval training apps. As I mentioned above, there are lots of fitness apps in the App Store that provide a variety of workouts that you can do right at home. You may need to buy a few pieces of equipment but typically it’s not much. My favorite is the Nike+ Training app. The BBG (Bikini Body Guide) app is another recent hit.
- Running. Yes it’s cold outside, but running is still a great option. Believe it or not, people tend to run faster, and therefore burn more calories, in the cold. You just need to prep a bit more than you do during warmer months: buy some trail-running shoes for that extra tread, and of course all the cold weather clothing (especially hat and gloves). Run slower and avoid downhills if you live in a snowy/icy area. Be flexible with the timing of your workout – avoiding the coldest and wettest parts of the day and opting maybe for lunch-break runs – and be flexible with your route. Make sure to warm up for a good 5 minutes before ramping up gradually, and listen to your body. Let it ease into the run and you’ll be sweating in no time.
- Skiing/snowboarding. The perfect winter sports that happen to burn up to 500 calories an hour. Skiing and snowboarding are great workouts for your core and lower body (glutes, quads). The side to side motion also targets the areas around your hips and your oblique muscles!
- Ice skating. Ice skating is a great low impact (read: easy on the joints) workout that also improves your balance and coordination. It also employs a lot of small stabilizer muscles that don’t get a workout in day-to-day life, for example the muscles around your hips, knees and ankles. Ice skating outdoors gives you the added obstacles (and calorie-burners) of the wind and bumpier ice. Just be sure to bend your knees and stay loose to minimize the chances of falling!
So make the move to get off that couch and get your sweat on. And most importantly, have fun!!
What’s your favorite winter workout? Let us know in the comments below!