Stay Motivated to Work Out in the Winter

Surviving working out in the cold
Coast Guard members from Activities New York, Station New York and Air Station Atlantic City recently helped put U.S. Secret Service agents through a cold-water survival swim. (BM2 Jason Moberly/U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The chill-you-to-the-bones weather left ice sticking to your hair and coat, you almost slipped and fell while scraping snow off your car, and that was only after you managed to pry the frozen car doors open.

You're exhausted from a full day at work or with the kids, it's as dark as midnight, and it's only 4:30 pm. Slippers, hot cocoa and comfort food are calling your name, and you'd only consider going to the gym if someone paid you.

When I was living in Syracuse, New York, these were the reasons I became a certified group fitness instructor. I realized I only would go if someone paid me, and I had 20 workout "buddies" waiting for me to show up and teach.

You might not need to go to such extremes, though, if you try five of my other tricks to fight winter fitness roadblocks:

1. Make a playlist

Make yourself an upbeat iPod workout playlist or CD and dance around as you straighten up at home. Find a hip-hop or African dance class at the gym. Learn to belly-dance at an adult education class or at the Y. Plan a girls night out dancing.

2. Get a personal trainer

Hire a personal trainer if you have the money. If not, many gyms also offer free training sessions with a new membership. You'll learn some new moves, and if you have to meet someone for a planned session, you're more likely to show up.

3. Try using a fitness DVD or show

Heat yourself up by staying inside with a new fitness DVD or fitness channel on TV. Just hit "play," and before you know it, you'll be done.

4. Slip on your "yoga paws"

If you're not up to a rigorous workout, yoga is as easy as rolling out your mat or slipping on your "yoga paws" (a travel set of yoga gloves for hands and feet). You will warm up, get your blood flowing and ease stress.

5. Eat veggie-heavy meals with minimal preparation

Get a slow cooker/crockpot for hearty, veggie-heavy meals with minimal preparation and dishes.

If these don't work, give a friend $50 and have them hold it for a week. You only get the money back, in $10 increments, when you go to the gym. Sometimes you just need the cold, hard cash for cold, dark days.

Nikki Fitness is a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, writer and publicist living in New York City.

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