Gimme Some Oven

winter workouts

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Confession: I am a total cold weather wimp.

Give me long walks in the sunshine, pretty bike rides through the park or laps in the pool any day when it’s warm out. But once the forecast dips below about 40 degrees, I’m done.  The only reason you’ll find me hanging outside, beyond the time that it takes to walk very quickly wherever I’m going, is to take my pup for a quick buzz around the block. (And even then, sometimes we settle instead for about 100 laps down the warm hallway indoors playing fetch!)  I’ve had many a friend try introducing me to the beautiful wonder that is a jog in the snow, or have even bought the warmest of warm athletic apparel designed for chilly workouts. But I’ve now accepted the fact I just can’t stand working out when I feel like my nose is about to fall off.

But, I am also not a big fan of the gyms, especially those in my neighborhood. I don’t like the monthly costs, the smells, and the extra time that it takes to drive to and from, pack and unpack your things in a locker, and often fend off some of the creepsters who throw out brilliant pickup lines. (“Hey girl, you have really great calves.” True story.)

Still, I am a huge believer in staying in shape, and doing everything possible to at least break a sweat every day. So I’ve learned that what works best for me in the winter is to develop a variety of workouts I can do at home. So for anyone else in the same boat, thought I would share some of my favorite winter workout ideas that are currently working for me. I am by no means an expert on fitness, nor is this even close to an exhaustive list of ideas on the topic. But sometimes it helps to hear someone else’s routine and catch some ideas, so here is a quick post of what I have learned!

Seriously. Plan It.

  • Schedule It!  If I don’t plan a window in my day to work out, 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t happen. True story. Everything else on my to-do list always seems more pressing. So if you’re a calendar person, schedule it in there. If you’re a list person, write it in big-ol’ capitol letters and then take immense delight afterwards in crossing it off. If you’re neither, I’m a big fan of Post-Its on your bathroom mirror or car dashboard.
  • Dress For Success: First of all, I’m a big believer in investing in well-made workout clothes that fit and make you feel attractive (pre-drenched-with-sweat) and confident. But beyond that, I’m also a fan of not giving myself the excuse of skipping a workout because I don’t want to find and change into my work out clothes. SO, if I’m working out first thing in the morning, I usually sleep in my workout clothes with my socks and shoes right beside the bed ready to go. If that’s not an option, or if my workout is later in the day after work, I always try to lay out my clothes before work so that as soon as I get home, I don’t have to take an extra minute to round them up.
  • Have Your Equipment Ready: On that same note, I find that I’m way more motivated to workout if I prep my workout gear ahead of time. So if it’s a DVD, I’ll pop it in the player the night before. If I need weights and a yoga mat, I will try to at least set them out. If I’m working out with Hulu (see below), I will think ahead about what I would like to watch.
  • Tracking & Goals: This isn’t so much up my alley, but I have tons of friends who love some of the zillion fitness apps and websites that are available now. From tracking your workouts, to setting up reminders and goals, to tying your workouts in with the food you consume in a day, there are obviously tons of resources out there. So if that floats your boat, go for it!
  • Remind Yourself Why: Most of the time I’m not training for a big event, or trying to squeeze into a new swimsuit for a trip to the beach, or anything else that might seem specifically “goal-oriented”. But I do realize that working out gives me a much better emotional balance during the day. And we do have high cholesterol in our family that I want to keep at bay. And I always feel glad I put in the time once I finish a workout. So as cheesy as it sounds, often I will write one of those reasons on my calendar (or on a Post-It) to motivate and give myself an extra reason why to follow through that day. And I think they actually work.

My Weird Way Of Multi-Tasking Workouts

  • Why: Ok, confession #2. I get really bored and really annoyed really quickly if I already know a DVD and am tired of listening to Jillian Michaels make the comment for the 100th time about how she doesn’t want you to “phone it in”. So my solution? I multi-task. I mute the dvd, and crank up either:
    • Hulu: An excuse to watch some of my favorite shows (plus, a 30-minute sitcom is the perfect timing for The Shred!)
    • Netflix: Reserve a movie exclusively for your exercise time, giving yourself extra motivation on Days 2, 3 or 4 to workout so that you can see the end of the movie.
    • Spotify/Pandora/Radio: Not quite as compelling for me, but some good tunes or talk radio are still a fun motivation (especially songs with a good beat!)
  • How: If you have a laptop, life is easy. Just set your laptop right next to your TV screen (see photo below). Then mute your workout DVD (or turn it down low enough so that it’s not as overpowering, but you can still hear the cues), and crank up your shows/movies/tunes. Most of the time, my show/movie watching is online on my laptop, so my workout DVDs go on the big screen, which is easy to glance at even when muted and see what you are supposed to be doing.
  • You Think I’m Crazy: You’re probably right. And this world needs far less multi-tasking. But hey, this makes workouts happen for me.

Ok, The Important Stuff: What To Do!

  • My Favorite DVDs
    • All Things Jillian Michaels: After years and years of workout DVDs, I have to admit that Jillian is still my favorite. I have worn out two discs of The Shred, mostly because it’s quick (25-minutes), it has multiple options for levels (with optional modifications for specific exercises demonstrated in each level), and her 3-2-1 system is do-able for me. Other DVDs that I have tried and enjoyed include: Ripped In 30, Yoga Meltdown and No More Trouble Zones. (Gotta love workout titles!)
    • The Bar Method: I grew up spending some intense years studying ballet, and used to love the workout it provided. So was super excited when The Bar Method emerged on the scene and studios started opening in larger cities. But classes in KC are a 30-minute drive away and ex-pen-sive. So I was thrilled to be able to buy the DVDs! If you’re not a dancer, no worries – there’s hardly any “real” ballet in here. But the workouts are amazing for toning and breaking a serious sweat, with no impact (which I appreciate, having back problems). My all-time favorite is Dancer’s Body, but I also like the Beginner’s Workout and the Accelerated Workout.
    • Yoga For Beginners: Due to back problems from scoliosis, and being a generally not-so-flexible person, I’ve always had a love-hate relationships with yoga. Love it, but can’t always do all of it. So for beginners or anyone else in my position, I’m a big fan of this box set of Yoga For Beginners. A great place to start.
  • Video Podcasts
    • Yoga Practice Podcast: I haven’t explored the zillion podcasts that are out there very much, but one of my favorite free video podcasts is this series from YogaJournal. The workouts are awesome, the instructor is great, and I especially love the morning and evening sequences. And did I mention they are free?!?
    • iTunes and YouTube: Again, there are zillions of free and inexpensive options out there. Check them out!
  • Interval Training
    • Mix It Up: If you’re not a fan of DVDs, I love this site for great ideas on indoor interval training.
  • Equiment: I have a small loft with zero room for any equipment besides a yoga mat and my hand weights. But of course, ellipticals, treadmills, exercise bikes, and all other at home workout equipment is a lovely option if you have it!
  • The Bare Minimum
    • You Have To Brush Your Teeth: Now you’re really going to think that I’m crazy. But if there’s NO time in the day for a workout, my bare minimum is to at least do something while I brush my teeth. (Judge away, but there’s a guaranteed 4 minutes a day there!)  I have learned that you can easily do calf raises, squats, and one-handed wall push-ups while cleaning your pearly whites. BOOM.

How I like to work out: Jillian Michaels on mute, Hulu cranked up loud! :)

My little “cheerleader” snoozing away while I workout. Always.

So what are some of YOUR favorite winter workout ideas? Any other great workout DVDs that you would recommend?

This post contains affiliate links. I am also in noooo way giving medical advice here. You need to do what works best for you. These are simply ideas that have worked for me.

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16 comments on “winter workouts”

  1. Forget about 40, once the temperatures drop below 60 I practically lock myself inside, especially since being diagnosed with chilblains. I love working out indoors. I have a strange love of running in place while watching food shows and I love the Active Life Wii games. Active Life Outdoor Challenge whipped my body into shape about 5 years ago and has kept me going since.

    • Oooh, good to hear! I’m not a big fan of video games, but have seriously debated getting a Wii for years just to be able to do Wii Fit! Looks so cool!

  2. I am happy to know I am not the only one who turns the work out video down while watching something else. My husband rolls his eyes at me but hey it gets the job done :)

  3. I’ve been using tapes to workout to for years and have enjoyed different Pilates instructors and some walk tapes, dance tapes and others through the years. I’m interested in the Bar method, but am wondering if you have to have a bar or can you use something else to stabilize w/? I looked at their site, but only saw bars.

    • Nice! Pilates is an awesome workout!!

      And good question – the name is deceiving. You totally don’t need a bar (although they will try to sell you one). I just use the back of a chair to stabilize. :)

  4. I watch Hulu and Netflix while on the treadmill or elliptical. I also look online for HIIT workouts, my new obsession. But my simplest indoor workout that I’ve been doing since college? Fake jump roping. No rope necessary. Just mime it. You never have to stop because you’ve tripped and you can switch off skipping, hopping, doing complicated lunge-cross-over-whatever moves that would be impossible with a real rope. It’s free, and it’s a great endurance workout, but it will help create gym-creeper-comment-able calves…consider yourself warned. Great post, Ali!

    • Ha! I used to LOVE jump roping!!! (Even applied awhile back for a job with Jump Rope For Heart!) I’m totally going to try this. Maybe we can have a European jumproping party… ;)

  5. I am a group exercise junkie (love kickboxing!) but I can’t always get to the gym with a busy toddler at home. Great post and so many great tips!!

  6. Totally impressive! I also do toothbrush workouts taking turns balancing on one foot and tightening the back side!

  7. i love that you sleep in your workout clothes. that cracks me up. but i also get the brilliance of it. :)

  8. Oh I have no excuse not to work out…