I get it: You hate to exercise when it's freezing.
Those warm days of spring and summer meant that we could move our bodies while soaking in the sunshine. As autumn ushers in the cold days of winter in many parts of the United States and around the globe, we may need to shift the focus of our exercise routines from outdoor activities to our homes.
(You can do this. I promise.)
Staying inside doesn’t mean forfeiting the fun or the movement, though. Between streaming services and exercise studios now offering live video classes, there are an abundance of off-the-beaten-path options to choose from. And then once in a while, that perfect sunny winter day arrives, and gives us the chance to go back outside.
Here are 5 tried-and-true ways I stay fit and happy—while moving my body—even when it's ridiculously cold out.
Before Covid-19, I was not a fan of virtual classes—even when they were streamed live. However, my partner was a devotee. We both have busy schedules, and for him that meant virtual yoga or no yoga. He discovered Ompractice, an online platform offering live streaming yoga classes via Zoom. I opted instead for the one in-person yoga class a week I could usually make it to at a local studio (if I really tried). When coronavirus came and made studios downright dangerous, I began joining my partner for more virtual yoga sessions at home. After a few classes, I discovered that not only can I enjoy yoga in a virtual format, but I feel a connection with the teachers. Spending Saturday mornings in class with Ompractice teacher Brianna Rhea is now something my partner and I look forward to doing together to start-off our weekends. Classes on the Ompractice schedule range from Yoga Nidra to Power Yoga (with some meditation and Qi Gong in the mix). So we get to pick and choose what we want and need throughout the week.
As much as I love dancing with my cats in the kitchen, I also appreciate being part of a group of humans taking a class in a studio setting. I’ve just never taken dance classes with any regularity. When I do, I’m sure I look much clumsier than the visions of Nutcracker performers dancing in my head. When Covid-19 arrived, my favorite local dance school, Ballet Arts Studio, started hosting live Zoom classes. I signed on! I had never taken modern dance before, but figured I’d give it a try. Dancing around my home with my teacher (shout-out to Ms. Claire) and my classmates on the computer screen gives me a spiritual, emotional, and physical lift. I feel my back stretching out, my body moving in new ways, and I enjoy seeing people I know from around town on the screen, even if I can’t say hi in person. I sashayed into virtual ballet lessons too, wearing cruelty-free slippers from Cynthia King Vegan Ballet Slippers. Many dance studios are now offering livestream classes so that you can experience the art of movement in a community of dancers. From jazz to hip hop to modern to ballet, there’s a dance style out there for everyone. You can sign up to take adult beginner tap, modern, or ballet classes via Zoom at Ballet Arts Studio, or find and register for live streaming dance classes around the world at MindBody.
I have to admit, I was a little intimidated when I began my pilates practice. But I found that led by great teachers, I managed to get through every class, one little movement at a time. And I loved it! Pilates helps build muscle strength (especially the core) and balance. Classes range from gentle routines that leave me feeling cleansed to tougher advanced workouts to make me sweat. I got started with live Instagram classes taught by holistic health coach Andrea Mitchell before setting out to find a studio that offered daily livestream classes. I discovered that The Pilates Collective in Denver, Colorado makes live classes available via Zoom. Working out with The Pilates Collective meant seeing the same smiling faces from one day to the next, with teachers offering just the right mix of motivation and inspiration. To register, simply sign up for an account and then select “All locations” on their class schedule. You’ll be able to participate live in any of their “virtual” classes via a Zoom account. Or subscribe to their On Demand program and have your pick of pre-recorded workouts according to your own schedule.
I signed up for a Barre3 streaming membership after a friend of mine sang its praises. Though the name implies a ballet barre, you can complete the workouts using the back of a chair, or a waist-high piece of furniture (though for much of it you’ll just need a yoga mat). If you’re looking to cover all of your bases with one workout, Barre3 combines cardio, strength-building, and mindfulness. Streaming and live video classes feature muscle-targeting movements, bursts of more intensive get-your-blood-going exercises, and those oh-so-rewarding deep stretches. An online membership grants access to a huge collection of pre-recorded classes in categories including “Progress Over Perfection” and “Calm the Chaos,” taught by teachers in a range of body shapes and sizes. Vibey music helps keep you going, while demonstrators on either side of your teacher offer variations to make the exercises either more or less challenging. For the community and interpersonal contact of an in-person class, you also have the option of signing up for live-streaming Barre3 classes from a number of its studios across the United States.
And then there are those stunning sunny winter days that light up fields, forests, and lawns, blanketed in crystal snow. Though the weather may often be dreary, with stormy skies and frigid winds, winter also offers those magical moments that combine gorgeous fresh snow with sunny skies. There’s no need to stay inside when perfect winter days beckon you out. As a born and raised city girl, I didn’t realize that snowshoes are no longer made out of animal products. But when I moved to the country, I discovered that today’s lightweight versions are created without anything that came from an animal, and can be found at major sports equipment retailers. Now snowshoeing is one of my favorite winter activities. I suggest ordering shoes now, before the snow blows in, so that you will be fully prepared to take to your local park or favorite hiking trail when the perfect winter weather hits.
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Maya Gottfried is the author of books for children and adults, including Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary and Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal.