As D.C. gets colder and coronavirus cases rise, safety is an important consideration when deciding how to exercise. Weather in the fall is less predictable than in the summer, but there are many indoor and outdoor fitness options this fall that allow you to stay safe, work up a sweat and stay ahead of whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
According to Devin Maier, co-CEO of Balance Gym, the first step to any kind of workout this fall is making a plan. The second is having a backup plan. That way, no matter what the circumstances are, nothing gets in the way of your workout.
“Pre-Covid days, you could have a go-to gym or go-to studio, but I think the tough thing now is there’s a lot of uncertainty,” he says. “Your studio might have to close down briefly for Covid, so you can’t just rely on one plan when it comes to getting your workout in.”
The easiest way to make a workout plan is to find a variety of exercises that you enjoy. If something gets in the way of your original plan, like weather or a closed gym, you have backup workouts to choose from.
Plans also include where and when to work out. Locations with fewer people are optimal places to exercise while maintaining social distancing, but the most important thing to consider when choosing a location is accessibility.
“It’s less about places, and more about convenience and being able to make it a part of your daily routine,” Maier says. “What is close by? What’s the closest trailhead? What’s the closest park? What’s a safe running route for where I live?”
Midday is the warmest time of day, and pandemic work arrangements might allow more people take advantage of nicer temperatures for outdoor workouts as it cools down for the season.
“The hope is a lot more people might have more flexibility in their schedule if they’re remote working to take a break and get outside,” Maier continues.
Making a plan and sticking to it is easier said than done, especially without the support of a community at a gym. Setting up good habits, having a friend as an accountability buddy or joining an online fitness group are a few ways to stay motivated and on track this fall. And dressing for the weather is just as important as making a plan.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes – meaning you have to prepare yourself for any type of weather situation,” says Karolin Nilsson, director of Balance Functional Fitness (BFF) at Balance Gym.
Nilsson recommends dressing for cold weather from head to toe with gear like fleece-lined leggings, ear bands, light gloves and windproof jackets. The neck gaiters many people already wear as face masks can also serve as a way to keep your face warm while exercising in the cold.
But warm clothing isn’t just about comfort. In combination with a proper warmup, it can also help prevent injury. Nilsson suggests wearing extra layers for warmup, taking them off for the workout and then putting them back on when you finish.
Nilsson argues that with the right clothes and a positive mindset, no temperature is too cold to exercise outside. Luckily for those reluctant to brave the cold, indoor workouts at home can also be a safe and effective option as the seasons change.
For indoor workouts, Maier suggests investing in equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells and resistance bands. Balance Gym allows members to check out sets of dumbbells and exchange them for larger ones as they get stronger.
Balance Gym also offers virtual classes and will soon offer a new program called Virdio, which will aim to mimic an in-person class. In this program, the instructor and participants will be able to interact with each other and get feedback from the safety of their own homes. Maier and Nilsson both believe that the benefits of working out are more than just physical.
“So many people right now are stressed out, and fitness is such a great stress reliever,” Maier says. “This is a marathon-type event, and now with the election folding into it, it is even more added stress.”
“You will never regret that you worked out,” Nilsson adds. “It’s always tough in the beginning to actually drag yourself out. But when you have worked out and when you come back in, you won’t regret it.”
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