Keeping the spirit while the weather is frightful

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had getting ready for the Climate Ride is figuring out how to get and stay in shape during the winter. Now, I know there are some very brave souls out there who are willing to ride in the cold and snow. But because I take the semi-reliable Metro to work and walk most places in town, pedaling for recreation isn’t very appealing. On the other hand, I really hate going to the gym. So I’ve come up with some options to make staying in palatable:

1) Set a fun goal
If you’ve seen the “Buffy Count” on the right-hand side of this page, that’s part of this strategy. My mom gifted me her bicycle trainer because she wasn’t using it, so I set up my bike in our living room. To make using it at all tolerable, I’ve started watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix Instant Demand. My husband and I only finished watching Joss Wheaton’s Serenity a few months ago and loved it. Now, I’m only allowing myself to watch the show if I’m pedaling and hope to get through all of it by March, when I hope to move it outside. It’s a big goal, but it makes the pain much more bearable. I’m hoping to get up to going without stopping for four episodes in a row or about three hours straight. I’m up to two right now.

2) Cross-train
I know I should do strength exercises, but lifting weights bores me so much that my patience more of a workout than my body. In the past, I’ve resigned myself to this state. But now that we live only two miles from the best climbing gym I’ve ever been to, I have no excuse not to consistently rock-climb. Although I’ll probably never be a great climber, it’s a fantastic supplement. Plus, they have free yoga classes, so I get two different, fun ways to cross-train in one membership.

If you don’t want to climb, there isn’t a gym near you, or the climbing gym is too expensive, I sometimes do a fun-in-a-self-induced-pain set of exercises collectively called “Deck of Cards.” We used to do it every other day on the cross-country ski team in high school. Take a deck of cards and assign a different exercise to each suit. I typically do hearts as sit-ups, spades as push-ups, diamonds as lunges, and clubs as either squat-thrusts (on a hard day) or an easier exercise. Then, shuffle the cards. Turn them over one-by-one and do the number of exercises indicated on the card. If it’s a face card, do either 10 or 15 reps of the exercises, depending on your comfort level. If it’s an ace, do either 15 or 20. If you’re really up to it, do a two-minute wall-sit when the jokers come up. It an exhausting routine; it may not be possible to do the whole deck the first time. However, for me, the element of surprise keeps my attention better than a set schedule. Plus, you can even do it in a hotel room while traveling.

3) Make it social
One of the other big reasons for joining the climbing gym is because one of my good friends is an avid climber. Knowing that he’s willing to climb and encourage me makes me want to show up regularly – even if his keenness on running outside in the winter doesn’t.

My mom gets a similar effect by going to spin class. I personally detest exercise classes, excepting yoga. Perhaps my obnoxious H.S. rowing coach poisoned me for life, but listening to someone tell me to “go harder” just makes me want to stop. But she loves her spin classes and finds that community of people very supportive.

Those are just a few ideas to keeping exercise interesting while indoors. Nothing radically new, but they work for me. I hope they help you keep the spirit while the weather is icky, whether now or six months from now is your season for “bad weather.”

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