Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Working out in the Winter

It’s a wintry 8 degrees outside as I write this inside, just before heading out to the gym. It can take some motivation and discipline to get out into the weather, but with these few tips, your winter workouts can be more enjoyable.

Whether you’re planning to do some skiing or take a spinning class, it’s especially important to layer your clothes this time of year. You’ll always start out cold, but you’ll probably warm up quickly. Wear two thin layers instead of one thick one, so you can always take one off if needed. Wear tops with zippers down the front. You’ll be able to quickly unzip to let your hot air out and the cool outside are in. If you’ll be outside, get a windbreaker with zippers down the underarms. They’re great for helping you regulate your temperature. And remember your extremities. Keep your head, hands and ankles covered.

Even if I’m just going to the gym, I find I need to layer. You never know if they’re going to be overcompensating for the cold wind outside by blasting the heat inside. If you go dressed in layers, you’ll be prepared to strip one off to stay comfortable. If it happens to be an off-time and the gym is empty, the room can feel unusually cold and drafty. Dress in layers and you’ll always be prepared.

The second tip is to stay hydrated. You need to drink more than you think you need to this time of year. You may not realize how much you’re sweating under all those layers. Winter air is drier, inside or out, than it is in the warmer seasons. Becoming dehydrated only zaps your energy, so drink before you’re thirsty. You’ll get more out of your workout by downing that extra glass of water.

The final tip is to find a workout buddy or two. If I have a friend meeting me at the start, I know I can’t back out of the run just because it’s 20 degrees outside. If none of your friends likes to work out, then set up a date for coffee at the cafĂ© next door to your gym. Tell a friend you’ll meet her there after your workout. You’d never have the nerve to show up without having worked out first!

Or consider getting a personal trainer. In addition to being a great motivator, they can teach you a lot about keeping fit and injury-free. They’re not just for Lance. I discovered they’re not nearly as expensive as I feared, and I started meeting with one this winter. She shows me new exercises and makes weightlifting fun. Even if I have to go a couple weeks between sessions, just knowing that I’ll be seeing her again inspires me to stay on track.

Lastly, try introducing a friend to a new sport. Take a snowboard lesson or join a masters swim class together. Borrow every workout tape at your local library and vote on the funniest one together. Resolve to help show someone the ropes of your favorite activity, and you may never have to work out alone again. Before you know it, spring will be here!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Best Bicycling Rain Jackets

When it's 5 degrees outside and the ground is covered in snow, what's a girl to do but dream about biking? And shop!

All 4 of us in the WomanTours office took the advice of the women on our Underground Railroad tour last spring. After cycling through hurricane rains, they compared all the different jackets they'd each worn. The Showers Pass Elite was declared the best rain jacket available.

We've each purchased our own. We can't personally vouch for its rain-effectiveness yet, but we know there's no better recommendation than from our cross-country cyclists. We can only say they look and feel good - don't you think? We'll be testing them for ourselves as soon as the snow melts.