With chilly temps and blustery winds, we totally get it if you've been spending lots of quality time in the gym lately. But too many treadmill days in a row can zap your motivation. Instead of running endlessly to nowhere, break out of a winter workout rut by spending the next few months getting fit while zooming through snow-covered vistas, zipping over ice and gliding over pristine white-blanketed trails. You'll zap big calories (up to 1,440!) and get an instant energy and mood boost. Follow these tips to get started.
One hour of ice skating tones your butt and thighs while torching 450 calories. Plus, no matter where you live, you'll likely find a rink not too far from home.
Know, then go:
Get in gear. You may have romantic visions of donning your mom's vintage skates, but old leather and vinyl provide zero ankle support. Nab a new pair (we like Jackson Ultima Softec Classic ST2000, $70), or rent some rinkside.
Blister buster: Wear synthetic socks or tights, not crinkly cotton.
Find strong footing. Start by gently rocking your weight from one foot to the other as you march forward. After about 10 steps, you'll gain momentum and—voila!—you'll be skating. In a rink, it's cool to cruise close to the rail for a sense of security, but fight the urge to hang on for dear life. You'll never get good glide with a death grip.
Don't bite it. You're bound to lose your balance. No biggie! When you feel wobbly, bend your knees and glue your hands to them, lowering your center of gravity. If you do topple, you'll likely butt-plant, which makes for a softer landing. Right yourself by rolling onto hands and knees, placing one foot between your hands and pushing up from there.
Enjoy shaved ice. To stop, either slam into the wall or place hands on thighs, angle your toes inward and use the inside edge of one blade to scrape the ice. If you choose the latter, take a bow! It's time for a well-deserved hot chocolate break.
Let's face it: There's no cooler way to get fit than by carving down a mountain on a board. You'll burn an entire pound(!) in a day, and your abs, butt and thighs will get slimmer and stronger.
Know then go:
Be patient. Snowboarding has a steep learning curve, which means day 1 can include a lot of time on your tush. Frustrating, yes, but take heart: On day 2, you'll have mastered your first turns, and you'll get that rush that comes from a hard-earned accomplishment.
Stand tall. Keep knees bent, back straight and butt tucked in. If you push out your bottom, your center of gravity will shift away from the board and you'll spill.
Fall big. Consider wiping out a source of pride! You're challenging yourself and learning skills, not sitting on your duff in the lodge. One safety tip: If you feel yourself falling, try to land on your butt, side or back. Don't throw out your hand and risk spraining a wrist.
Eye your route. Look where you want to go and your shoulders and body will turn in that direction. Magic!
The sport is as simple as a walk in the park—but one that helps you sizzle 8 calories a minute (that's a mind-blowing 1,440 in a typical three-hour trek), while sculpting your legs, abs and arms. Try it out by renting a pair of snowshoes from REI stores nationwide.
Know, then go:
Find some snow. Dress in layers, don winter boots, snap on snowshoes and you're good to traverse your favorite backcountry paths or anywhere covered in fluffy stuff. A stay-dry trick: Drag the tails of your snowshoes slightly as you step so you don't flip powder up onto your back.
Orient yourself. Note trail markings each way, and carry a map and compass. Never plan on following your tracks back home; the wind can blow them away by the time you're ready to return.
Take it easy downhill. If your descent is steep, traversing the trail zigzag-style will help you maintain control. Or, if you've got a straight shot and the snow is powdery, squat down and sit on your shoes' tails, then—whee!—sled down.
Recover quickly. If you do take a tumble, roll onto your knees and plant poles or hands in front of you to push yourself up. Then pretend the whole thing never happened.
Nordic skiing allows you to explore every inch of white-blanketed terrain, and, unlike downhill, there's no chairlift line or crazy dude nearly bombing into you. Plus, in a two-hour jaunt, you'll zap 1,000 calories and get leaner legs, a stronger core, and toned arms and shoulders.
Know, then go:
Dress lightly. Cross-country skiing's mega calories burn has a hot upshot: You are gonna sweat. So keep apparel minimal. Stick to a base layer under a jacket and pants. (You can even wear running or biking duds.) And never, ever wear cotton, including undies. Once it gets sweaty, it won't dry—and you'll freeze.
Throw your weight around. The only time you'll be on both feet is when you're cruising down a hill or standing and gabbing with pals. At all other times, keep feet hip-width apart and shift weight from one ski to the other as you glide.
Avoid the “yikes!” position. If you hit a small downhill, bend knees and hold poles at hips so tips are pointing behind you and shafts are parallel to the ground. Crouching down lowers your center of gravity, helping you stay balanced. If you stand up tall, you're more likely to wipe out.
Keep moving. Don't plant poles in front of you as if they're walking staffs. It kills momentum. Push off the ground at your sides, and extend poles behind you for a smooth follow-through.
Before you hit the slopes or the rink, get your body in tip-top shape with these five strengthening moves geared specifically toward winter sports.
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