exercise fitness

Get out of the cold and into the gym: Part I

Saturday, November 08, 2014 Brittany Lohmann

Winter is quickly approaching, and soon the cold weather will take us from the outdoors and force us inside. As a way to keep moving and prevent cabin fever, there are a number of options to help keep the cold and extra pounds at bay through the cold winter months.

Bikram Yoga. If you are looking to get warm and toasty, take a Bikram yoga class. Also referred to as “hot yoga”, Bikram yogis perform their practice in a heated room (104 °F). This form of yoga helps the practitioner build strength, flexibility, muscular endurance and release toxins through the sweat. Classes typically run from anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes. During that time the practitioner will be lead through a series of 26 poses and two different breathing exercises.

If you decide to give hot yoga a chance, be sure to wear light, well-vented, form-fitting clothing so that you are able to keep cool and avoid feeling restricted during the movements. Also be sure to go to drink plenty of water before, during and after class to ensure that you are properly hydrated. It is also suggested to bring a small towel, although most studios provide them for a small cost.

CrossFit. If you are an avid exerciser and/or gym-goer more than likely you know someone who has done CrossFit. While the regimen’s safety has been debated in recent months, there are numbers of people who have found a path to better health through what CrossFit Headquarters refers as the “Sport of Fitness”.

CrossFit is an exercise program that prides itself on being “constantly varied” – the regimen pulls from gymnastics, Power Lifting, Olympic Weightlifting, and endurance sports (e.g. running, rowing, jumping rope) and tests these movements in ever-changing workouts at a high intensity.  The regimen is designed to create a well-rounded and balanced athlete rather than a specialist (e.g. marathon runner).

If you decide to give CrossFit a try, many CrossFit gyms (also known as a “box”) offer a free trial class. However, before settling on a gym, be sure to do shopping around. Avoid gyms that offer Groupons, which discount their services simply to get you into the door, and that do not include introductory classes that require you to learn the movements.

When you do find a gym you are interested in, be sure to ask the coaches about their credentials, the gym culture and community, as well as the types of workouts that regularly appear (NOTE: Offering only long workouts or workouts with a name attached to them should put up a red flag). Each CrossFit gym is different, but doing the proper research can help you find a box that suits your individual needs.

Barre.  Instead of heading to the bar for spirits to keep you warm, try a barre class instead. The ballet-inspired program incorporates dance with other traditional exercises to give the practitioner a toned and sculpted body.

There are various types of barre classes to try – some focus more primarily on dance while others incorporate traditional yoga and/or Pilates exercises into the routine. There are also classes that focus on “strengthening and lengthening” the body, sessions led by physical therapists to perform movements while protecting your joints, as well as classes that incorporate exercise props such as hand weights and exercise balls.

Whatever class you do choose, be prepared to ease into the routine and then get in a killer lower body workout. While Barre classes will give you a good overall workout, they will especially work your core, legs, and butt – and who doesn’t want that?

With the cold weather looming it is time to head back inside, but avoid total hibernation by trying out a new type of fitness class to your exercise regimen. Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for our Part II of our "Get out of the cold" series for more ideas to keep you sweating through the winter months. 

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