If you are like me, you find yourself talking about how we were “robbed” of our summer this year. The first six weeks were rain outs and we only had two weeks of real summer weather in the second six weeks.
But like it or not, gone are the days of getting in a bike ride before work (it doesn’t get light until 6:15am now) and the nights are starting to dip into the 40s as the sun is setting, so warm (but comfortable) evening runs are also rapidly becoming history for this season.
This means that workouts have to move indoors where they will remain throughout the winter months. Below are some options for indoor workouts that will keep your fitness level high and boredom factor low.
Triathloning is the number one fastest-growing sport in America today, and with that comes a lot of great programming geared towards both the newbie and the experienced triathlete. The local YMCA’s organize indoor triathlon events and sometimes also offer organized group preparation workouts for these events.
Just because you can’t be outside doesn’t mean you have to stop doing your weekly brick workouts either. A brick workout is when you combine a bike ride immediately into a run, which is a simulation of the second transition in a triathlon race. You can take a spin class at any of the local gyms that offer them and then be ready with your sneakers so that you can immediately hit the treadmill.
If you are a member of a gym with a pool, you can also do a once a week “personal triathlon” event: swim in the pool, use the indoor cycle bikes for your bike workout (check with the administration, some gyms allow use of the cycle bikes outside of classes and some don’t) and then head right to the treadmills. The length of time in each workout discipline will depend on the race distance that you typically compete at (sprint, Olympic, half ironman or ironman). Indoor workouts can be even better than outdoor workouts because you have better control over the intensities you use and you don’t have to worry about cars getting too close on the road!
You can join your triathlete peers and hit the indoor cycle classes. The newer indoor cycle bikes now have wattage output so they can function as a power meter on an outdoor bike or a Computrainer, which costs hundreds of dollars. Both the power meters and Computrainer allow the user to monitor wattage output, which is a measurement of workload. In order to train effectively, heart rate is not enough information. You need to know work load at a given heart rate in order to improve your capacity and measure improvement. Keiser’s new rear wheel indoor cycle bike measures wattage as do several other companies’ newest models. Call your local gyms to ask if they have wattage measurements on their bikes.
You can also purchase bike trainers that allow you to ride your outside bike indoors. The least expensive models run about $100 and allow you to change gears and ride as if you are outdoors. The more expensive models are computerized and allow you to program and monitor wattage output.
You can also purchase DVDs like Spinnervals, which you can watch while riding. Spinnervals is like having a personal ride coach guide you through an indoor cycle class within the comfort of your own home.
Another option is to purchase a video of one of the Ironman races and ride a simulation of the actual course as if you
are in the race. Go to www.ironman.com and click on ‘products’ for purchase information. If you are like me, it is just torture to ride your actual road bike indoors. So, it may be worthwhile to invest in an indoor cycle bike like you find in the gyms for cycle classes. The ones that measure wattage run around $1,500, but may be one of the best investments you can make for your indoor winter training because you can measure workload and actually enjoy indoor riding!
The local YMCA’s, Union College and RPI all have coached masters swim programs. This is an organized swim program geared towards adults. Most swimmers use the indoor pools to train during the summer and winter, but many adult swimmers just do lap swimming, which can get boring and lead to less motivation to keep up the workouts. Participating in a masters swim program may be just the thing to improve your swimming technique and add a dimension of friendly competition that boosts motivation and satisfaction from your workout.
Fitness enthusiasts and athletes
There are some really interesting and creative workout options available that were never around before the last decade. The Wii Fit is a home-based system that connects to your TV.
There is a hand-held devise and a floor piece and programming includes tennis, bowling, baseball, yoga, step aerobics and more. You actually participate in the games so it is an interactive video game where you are moving and not just sitting on the couch. This isn’t a high-intensity workout like running, but for the resident coach potato looking to become more active or for kids suffering from cabin fever during the winter, this is a great option.
There are also some great DVDs available for home workouts. One of the most recent and hottest available is the P90X, which is a progressive 90-day program geared towards an advanced exerciser that involves high-intensity functional training and plyometric moves that promises to chisel your body in 90 days! Google it for more information.
There is now a channel on cable (1067 on Time Warner) that shows nothing but fitness programming. Everything from Gilad’s workouts on the beach to Yoga classes can be found on this station. With a DVR, all you have to do is record the show you like and you can exercise at 4am if you want! You’ll have no excuses for not exercising with 24-hour access right in your home during the most intense snow storm that may keep you from getting to the gym.
Although our winters are long here in the northeast, it doesn’t mean our fitness levels and workouts have to suffer. Just take advantage of the newest technology and don’t miss a beat transitioning from summer to indoor workouts for the cold weather months!
Judy Torel is a USAT coach, personal trainer, nutrition consultant and psychotherapist. Her office is located in Planet Fitness, Loudonville. She can be reached at 469.0815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.