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Great Ways to Work Out Indoors

Don't let winter weather freeze out your workout

You've Got Class continued...

Tony Swain, director of fitness at the East Bank Club in Chicago, says health clubs also offer socialization -- key for an unmotivated exerciser.

"Get involved with a group class," Swain recommends. "The social thing is the biggest thing that keeps people going. People bond with others and create a support network that fosters healthful habits."

Like many gyms, East Bank Club offers a boot camp-style class in which variety is king. The class incorporates aerobic, strength, and even stretching exercises, all in one hour. You don't have time to get bored of one exercise before you're onto the next, Swain says.

If boot camp is not your thing, try yoga, Pilates, a NIA dance class, or even ballroom dancing (East Bank began such a class after the success of the reality show Dancing with the Stars). One big advantage to exercise classes is that so many different types are available, says Ellie Calgaro, assistant director of the Island Sports Center at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

"Variety is going to get you through the winter," she says. "If you do the same thing every day, your body is not only going to get used to it, you'll get bored with it."

If you're really more the outdoor type, Harry Pino, a clinical exercise physiologist at the Obesity Consult Center at Tufts University Center, suggests joining a gym only for the winter months.

"Once spring comes, you can do most of your walking (or whatever you enjoy) outdoors," he says.

Take a Dip

Pino is a big advocate of heated, indoor pools because they are so gentle on the joints, especially for overweight people.

"Pool exercises and aqua aerobics reduce the impact on joints and help improve overall body strength," says Pino. Other benefits include stronger core muscles and improved range of motion.

Both strength training (using the water as resistance) and cardiovascular conditioning (swimming, walking, jogging or treading) can be done in the water. Classes will break it down for you, but if you want to go it alone, it's simple. Alternate swimming, walking, or jogging laps in the pool with leg lifts, bicep curls, squats, or chest presses. (You can use flotation weights or just do the exercises against the resistance of the water, depending on your level of conditioning). In other words, move your gym workout to the water.

"I encourage individuals to try classes offered in the water," says Calgaro. Besides the benefits of joint cushioning, it's another way to add variety and alleviate boredom.

And although water workouts are low-impact, that doesn't mean they're not intense. "They can be full-body, tough workouts," she says.

Marvelous Machines

Of course, treadmills, stationary bicycles, and elliptical machines are great for getting a cardiovascular workout when you don't want to brave the elements. And they don't have to be boring, either.

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