Columbus health consultants give tips about tips on how to hold shifting in winter

As the days get shorter and the weather colder, Ohioans are being forced to go indoors — even many who spend their time outside.

While the changing seasons make it harder to stay active, experts told The Dispatch that there are many ways people can make sure they’re moving through the winter months and into spring.

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“We know that people in Columbus are less active during the winter,” said Julie Wilkes, a local fitness expert and motivational speaker. “In general, (the weather) is less motivating for people.”

With that in mind, here’s how Central Ohio residents can stay active indoors during the winter.

Join a gym

One of the easiest ways to keep moving when going outside isn’t possible is with a gym membership.

The Pro’s Gym on Long Street Downtown offers training opportunities for experts and novices, said operations manager Jephthah Lawson. Even newcomers are not alone; Lawson said membership often jumps ahead of the holidays because people have a head start on their New Year’s resolutions.

But there’s more to exercising than just shedding pounds, Lawson said.

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“For one thing, it’s good for you… But it can also produce endorphins to ward off seasonal disruptions,” Lawson said. “So it can help you feel better emotionally, too.”

Cardio exercises like running, biking, or walking are important activities that people should include in their workouts when they join a gym, Lawson said.

Powell's Laura Klein lifts 225 pounds for deadlift reps at The Pro's Gym in Columbus.

However, Lawson said people should be careful not to overdo it. He said he’s seen a lot of people train too hard and too often and either injure themselves or just get too burned out to keep going.

Lawson suggested meeting with a personal trainer a few times to find a routine that isn’t overwhelming. Overall, people need to take it easy, Lawson said.

“Monday and Tuesday are always busy because everyone feels guilty for what they did over the weekend,” Lawson said. “By the time Thursday rolls in, about half the people have overdone it. … When you’re first starting out, you want to get your body used to the extra workload.”

Julie Wilkes demonstrates trapeze yoga at Seven Studios.  The Grandview Heights gym offers more than 25 classes via live stream or in the studio.  Yoga is one of many ways to stay active as the days get shorter and the temperatures colder.

Yoga, Pilates and dancing

An alternative to joining a gym this winter is to sign up for a class.

Between Pilates, dance classes, and yoga, Seven Studios in Grandview Heights offers a wide variety of options, said its owner, Wilkes.

After the COVID-19 pandemic subsided, Wilkes said she reopened her studio with a plan to offer workouts that people can’t necessarily do at home. One of these offerings is trapeze yoga, in which participants hang from the floor with ribbons and perform poses in the air.

There are different types of yoga classes in the Columbus area, and that means there’s something for almost everyone, regardless of comfort level, Wilkes said.

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Julie Wilkes demonstrates bungee fitness at Seven Studios in Grandview Heights.  Experts recommend adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.

If trying to do aerial poses seems nerve-wracking or intimidating, according to Wilkes, Seven Studios offers classes for beginners as well as relaxation classes focused on meditation and relaxation. High-intensity classes are also available, she said.

As well as offering a good workout, according to Wilkes, yoga is an opportunity to connect with people and can go a long way in improving someone’s mental health.

“(Yoga classes) create community and I think that’s one of the biggest things. … It’s great to see that kind of energy,” Wilkes said.

While gyms offer dedicated space, home workouts offer more flexibility.  When deciding what's best for you, experts say using your time and equipment to maximize efficiency is key to a great workout, wherever you choose to do it.

Get creative around the house

There are a lot of things people can do and use around the home if they don’t want to invest in expensive exercise equipment, said Tyler Yee, fitness director at OhioHealth’s Neuroscience Wellness Center.

Tension bands, Yee said, are cheap and easy to buy online, and can be used in place of weights. Over the years, Yee joked that he’d seen people use everything from canned goods to pots and pans in place of weights.

Julie Wilkes demonstrates TRX training at Seven Studios in Grandview Heights.  She said TRX and other resistance and suspension training systems offer a unique and flexible workout that challenges your strength.

The best substitute for weights might be empty laundry detergent jugs, Yee said. People can fill them with water up to their desired weight, and the jugs offer easy-to-hold handles for people to use, he said.

“I think 2020 showed us all that you can do a lot with a little and that you can apply the same concepts when you don’t have a lot of time or resources,” Yee said.

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Stairs can also be helpful for people trying to exercise at home, Yee said. Along with climbing stairs, Yee said they can be used to lift someone while they’re doing push-ups or lunges.

If Ohioans who want to stay active are looking for something more specific to do at home, Yee suggested taking an online fitness class.

When the winter chill sets in, your workout routine may be interrupted by chilly winds or frigid conditions.  Though it's tempting to curl up under a blanket, experts say it's important to keep moving throughout the winter.

There’s a wide range of at-home fitness classes, including options from Apple, Fitbit, and Peloton. Paying for a class can help motivate people to hold themselves accountable, Yee said.

Regardless, Yee said the most important thing is for people to find a workout they look forward to.

“Set realistic expectations for yourself and make sure you enjoy it,” Yee said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

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