Just because the sun sets sooner and the temperatures drop quickly during the winter doesn’t mean your workout needs to freeze up. The winter might be about hibernation for some animals, but if you want to maintain, sustain or even gain on your fitness goals, sleeping through the winter is the last thing you should do.
Winter weather can be a major outdoor roadblock to people living in the North or the Midwest, while folks in the Southwest or down in Florida may not even feel a chill. Regardless of how winter impacts your weather, everyone can set up a home gym that keeps you active and engaged when those dark nights set in sooner. Creating a home gym doesn’t require a ton of money or heavy equipment. In fact, an effective and exciting home gym can start pretty simply with:
- Weights: Dumbbells and kettlebells are an easy way to boost your home workout. One-at-a-time or in a set, you can see a vast improvement in your winter workout by adding weight incrementally to your strength training routines.
- Yoga: A mat– that’s really all you need to build lean muscle and improve flexibility with yoga. If you’ve never practiced before, do your research. Consider watching videos on your phone while you follow along or even put a TV in your home gym so you can watch videos. Yoga can be a huge boost to your workout, but like all new exercises, you’ll want a little instruction before you get started. You can also purchase a monthly subscription to online yoga classes that provide you with one-on-one instruction anytime, anywhere.
- Bosu Balance Ball: Add an element of balance to your side lunges and squats, or kick up your cardio by running in place on a Bosu Balance Trainer. Bosu stands for “both sides utilized, so you can burn and build more using the ball side or the flat side.
- Resistance Bands: Simple, but so incredibly effective, resistance bands come in various lengths and thickness. They are super easy to store, making them an ideal element to any home gym.
While a home gym certainly doesn’t require its own room, if you’re concerned about space or don’t mind venturing out to the gym, other ways to keep up your workouts during the winter include:
- Changing your routine: Cross-training is a great way to give your body a break from your favorite sport or activity, while still keeping in shape for the warmer months. If you enjoy hiking or running but don’t enjoy sub-freezing temperatures, consider taking yoga classes, which can help build muscle, improve flexibility and prevent injury for all the major muscle groups in the lower half of your body.
- Thinking ahead: If you are an avid cycler you can sign up for a race that starts just as the first spring flowers bloom, to keep you motivated while you watch the snow fall. If you can’t get on the bike due to ice or cold, sign up for a few spin classes at your local gym or hook your bike on to a trainer and cycle the miles away from the warmth and comfort of your own living room.
- Trying something new: There are many reasons people hit an exercise plateau–from cold winter months to simply getting burned out on the same old routine. That’s why winter is a great time to try a new activity. Find a gym with an indoor pool and take up swimming, get involved with a winter sport, like cross-country skiing, or check out a something you’ve always wanted to try– like barre or pilates.
And remember–not only is it good for your physical health to stay dedicated to cold weather workouts, but it’s also good for your mental health. From Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to holiday stress, winter months are known to put extra pressure on our emotions. With its surge of endorphins, pride-pumping achievements and dedication to routine, working out is an extremely effective way to stay in shape and break through the winter blues.