It’s January and gym memberships are in full swing. I myself even joined one just this past week. Even though I much prefer to exercise outside and do sporting activities usually, it’s been so cold here in the Northeast recently, that unfortunately I haven’t had much of a choice.
If you’re like me, and not the biggest advocate for going to the gym just to stand there lifting weights or run on the treadmill, here are five alternatives to consider to help you stay in shape this winter.
1. Indoor rock climbing.
If you’ve ever gone rock climbing (or bouldering), then you know this is a workout that is as intense as it gets. If you haven't given it a go, you might be thinking that rock climbing is to be reserved for those who are in tip top, lean shape, but that’s not the case. Indoor climbing gyms have all kinds of walls and courses dedicated to the novice or first-time climber. Instructors and safety members are always on hand to help with whatever you need and guide you along the way. See if there is a local gym in your area, and take along a friend or two, or even a whole group. You’ll have not only a great time, but a really great workout. It’s a good mental exercise too, as you have to get creative to find good lines to climb as you go higher and higher and the difficulty increases.
2. Go swimming at an indoor pool.
This is one of my personal favorites. Swimming is undeniably one of the best full body workouts around. I find it much more fun than lifting weights or sitting in a weird machine working on one muscle group at a time. Why not do a full body movement to work multiple muscles at once? There are many different strokes you can practice, you can race a friend, and you could use paddle boards for different techniques and exercises. Also, it’s pretty difficult to be mad about your workout when you’re swimming. It’s quite luxurious.
3. Play in an indoor basketball, soccer or tennis league.
This is another really fun one. Many cities have recreational sports leagues that you can join year round. Soccer and tennis may be a tad harder to find, but many YMCA’s and other gyms have basketball courts for guests to enjoy. Playing sports has the added benefit of putting my mind into the action of the game instead, so I’m focused on that — having fun — while also burning calories and getting a good sweat in.
4. Take a martial arts, gymnastics, movement or dance class.
These are some other really great options to get out there and break a sweat without lifting pesky weights or spending hours on the elliptical machine. Like rock climbing, martial arts, gymnastics, movement and dance all have beginner classes to help you get started. They all work different parts of your body and help you to really get a full body workout in as well as focus on the mental aspect of growth. Also, what’s cool is that many of these have practical elements you can transfer over into your real life. Who doesn’t want to be able to protect themselves a little better or be able to show off dance moves the next time you’re at a party?
5. Take a yoga class.
Okay, this one is, of course, no secret. Yoga can be a fantastic workout and there are so many different kinds that there is something for everybody here. There are slower classes (think Kripalu, Restorative and Sivananda); there are classes that involve high intensity movement (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kundalini) to really help you break a sweat; and there are hot yoga (Bikram) classes...you get the idea. Find a studio near you and try out a few different ones to see what works for you. The good news is that you don’t have to sign up for a big membership. Many places offer one-time classes that you can try to get a feel for what you like.