It's mid-winter. The Holidays are in the rear-view mirror, and summer
seems a long way off. The sun is staying out a little longer, but the
cold has not begun to dissipate. It's easy to stay on the couch, remote
in hand, snacking on comfort food...
To get in shape for summer, and (more importantly) for long-term
health, you've got to fight the "shut-in" mentality of January and
The body needs some Vitamin D sunlight provides. Try a brisk walk
at lunch-time, when temperatures are warmest. Even though I'm wrapped in
about 10 lbs. of clothing, I try to run outside about twice a week in
winter. There's something about fighting against a biting wind, or
moving fast enough to stay warm in sub-freezing weather that gives you a
sense of accomplishment when you're done. My treadmill workouts are more
effective for race preparation, but the outside runs release the
endorphins that make you feel good.
I'm not a skier, but would love to try cross-country skiing one day. I
understand that it's easy to execute, and is a tremendous workout. In
fact, you burn more calories cross-country skiing that any other
exercise. You're using arms and legs, engaging the core, and really
getting the heart rate up! Probably because it corresponds to
long-distance running so much, cross-country skiing is my favorite thing
to watch in the winter Olympics.
The gym, of course, is the perfect place to meet all your winter
workout needs. I hit the weights a little harder over the winter, and
mix in a lot of cross-training on the bike and elliptical. Once the
weather breaks, I'm back outside running as much as I can, but the other
machines prioritize different muscles and ease the strain on my 59-year
old knees. For a total body, all-out workout, I constantly extol the
virtues of the Concept 2 Rower.
The Concept 2 is a push-pull movement, using just about every muscle
in your body. It's low-impact, and safe on your structure. You can row
steadily for long distances (10-K is my longest workout), or blow out
500 or 1000-meter sprints. The machine is featured in the Cross-Fit
Games, and if you go all-out on it, you'll understand why. It's pretty
much the hardest cardio workout you can do!
A good winter workout is a dumbbell free-weight routine, standing on
balance disks or a Bosu ball. You're incorporating balance in the
routine, which is great prep for skiing or snowboarding, or just not
slipping on the ice!
Winter can be an isolating time, and the comradeship of a neighborhood
club like Mountain Fitness is great social interaction as well. Just
pack your gear up in the car, and leave the remote laying on the couch!
Ed Halper has a Master's degree in Education (concentration in Physical Education) from Trenton State College (1991), and is a Certified Personal Trainer through SCW. He is recognized as an IDEA Master Trainer.