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You've Got Class

Belonging to a gym has many advantages during the winter months. It's a haven from the cold, and has all the equipment you need to keep you from getting bored. There are also exercise classes and personal training consultants to help you stay motivated.

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.

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