Fresh Ideas for Indoor Workouts

Out of the cold and into shape

The winter season of 2013-2014 has witnessed the most brutal weather in decades in North America As low temperature and snow fall records are broken one after another, the polar vortex relentlessly blasts much of the continent, pushing frigid Artic air all the way down to Florida.

The NFL tough guys of the Broncos and the Seahawks would happily beat each other up for the Super Bowl at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, while the NHL stages outdoor games at the Yankee Stadium in New York for promotional purpose. Well, those are super athletes, with their superb conditioning, equipment and, of course, fat paychecks.

But what about the rest of us who still wish to exercise, especially when the New Year resolutions are still ringing in the air? Let’s face it, most of us normal folks are fair-weather exercisers. We have no desire to train like an Olympian; we just want to stay active, and achieve a certain level of fitness and better health.

Well, there's no need to let a frightful forecast dampen your fitness pursuits. We’ve got options for indoors exercise throughout the year. If you typically exercise outdoors, it may take some planning to find out-of-the-weather routines that work for you. And of course, be sure to talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your level of physical activity.

There are good old standbys like Sit-ups, push-ups, squats and jump ropes, but you can always use some fresh ideas to keep you going strong - even on the most blustery winter days:

1. Be your own in-home trainer. You may be on your own, so hold yourself accountable. Write up a weekly plan before you start - of what you'll do, and when. Maybe that's how long you'll trek on your treadmill, and which days you'll do strength-training exercises. You don’t need bells and whistles, a whiteboard or poster on the wall would help.

2. Park your wheels. Ice, road salt and snow plows don’t mix well with your bike. But if you love to cycle, don't stop. Use a training stand to convert your bike into a stationary model that you can pedal on indoors. Your favorite action shows or rock bands can be good companions for your ride.

3. Shake and shimmy. Dancing can be a great in-home workout. So you don't bow out early, create a lively playlist on the music device of your choice that keeps you grooving for a certain goal time. Throw in a few classic calisthenics - jumping jacks, rubber bands and exercise balls - to make it an even better workout.

4. Go Visual. Running out of idea? Fitness DVDs can be like having personal trainers at your disposal. And you don’t have to pay a dime for them - Your local public library should have plenty available. Go borrow a few for variety and see what you like. Or, thanks to the great invention of the Internet, plenty of enthusiasts are eager to offer their service on YouTube – all for free!

5. Join the crowd. Working out alone can get boring pretty quickly, which is one reason why people cannot maintain a good routine. How about signing up for a kickboxing, step aerobics or hip-hop dance class? Having a schedule and being with others will help keep you motivated and focused.

6. Grab a deal. Do you avoid joining a gym because you don't want to pay year-round? With competitions sprouting out all over the place like bamboo shoots after a downpour, many gyms offer month-to-month memberships or deals that include waiving the sign-up fees. Places like WOW and Retro Fitness would love to have you for less than twenty dollar a month. Not a bad deal at all.

7. Shop till you drop. Window shop, that is. Is walking your activity of choice? You might hit your stride at the nearest shopping mall. Of course, you would prefer a large one with enough footage and stairs. The gleaming displays and bustling atmosphere can sure help you forget time and keep you going for hours.

8. Cleaning House. Sometimes the ideal workout comes in an unexpected form. Doing house chores can be very physical, especially activities like vacuuming and mopping. So when the governor declares a state of emergency after a monster storm hits, you might as well set up a house cleaning schedule and get it done instead. And your significant half will sure love it. This is what I call “killing three birds with one stone”!

A harsh winter shouldn’t stop you from maintaining your exercise routines, and definitely not an excuse for crouching in your couch in front of the TV all day with your chip and bear. Save those occasions for the Holidays and the Super Bowl. With a little creativity and diligence, you can prevent yourself from coming out of the winter ten pounds heavier around your belly.

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