Staying Fit Without the Gym… and in the Freezing Cold Weather

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Being here in the Chicago burbs makes me appreciate two things about London:

  1. It’s rarely cold enough in London to deter me from cycling or walking outdoors.
  2. London requires lots of walking and cycling just to get around, making it much easier to stay fit, even without deliberately exercising.

This is not to say that I begrudge my time here in the States. In fact, I’m loving it – home cooking, quiet nights, white snow, cleaner streets, just to name a few small pleasures of being back home. And given that most of you are also in the States, this is a great opportunity for me to get to know your food and fitness challenges a bit better.

As some of you know, I’m all about staying fit without the gym, but being here in icy Chicago makes me realize how hard this will be in a place that’s actually freezing cold. Still, I’m up for the challenge.

Here are a few ideas for staying fit in the freezing cold without investing in any major equipment:

  • Yoga – Morning yoga is something I started in London which I can easily do here. Equipment needed: yoga mat.
  • Floor exercises – I’ll be doing a variation of my core workout plan, plus some leg exercises I was given by my physiotherapist. Equipment needed: none.
  • One hundred pushup challenge – I was doing this for a while in London but took a break in recent weeks. Now I’m back to it, starting on week three, column two. Equipment needed: none.
  • Walking – It’s all about layers, right? Equipment needed: shoes, warm clothes.
  • Hiking – I’m not sure how often I’ll find myself in the woods, but I love the idea of hiking in the snow. Plus, walking in the snow is hard work. Equipment needed: boots, warm clothes.
  • Running – I probably won’t be doing this given my shin splints, but for those of you with happy legs, running is a pretty solid way to stay fit and warm at the same time. Sign up for a fun run to keep you motivated. Equipment needed: running shoes, warm clothes.
  • Jump rope – I LOVE this idea posted by Jason on Get Fit Slowly. Equipment needed: rope.

How do you guys keep your fitness up in the winter? I’m open to suggestions, the cheaper the better!

5 thoughts on “Staying Fit Without the Gym… and in the Freezing Cold Weather

  1. Adam Steer, Better Is Better

    Winter sports go a long way to keeping one active in the cold, dark season (I should know – I’m from Quebec… 🙂 ). Cross country skiing, alpine skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and the like are great exercise and can make for great family activities.

    As far as daily routine goes, there are so many ways to be imaginative about training without the gym. Bodyweight circuits and routines are probably one of the most effective ways of training at home. But without some ideas on how to keep it exciting, most people will quickly become bored with the old standards like push-ups and sit-ups. But there are many alternatives if you know where to look. For example, here is an old tutorial I did on my website showing a very simple variation in complexity on the push-up. (“ rel=”nofollow”>click here to view)

    Prasara Body-Flow Yoga is also another great alternative for indoor / at-home training during the winter. You can check out a couple video examples on my home page (

    Have fun in Chicago. It is one of my favorite American cities. If it works out, I’ll be there at the end of February to give a Circular Strength Training workshop.


  2. Wendi Kelly- Life's Little Ins

    Welcome to our wonderful Chicago weather. Getting outside for exercise can be rough, especially with all the ice on the sidewalks!
    My husband and I enjoy taking the dogs hiking at the dog parks around here. We have wonderful dog parks in the Chicago area and they have the best land for running around and going for fun winter walks. I don’t know if you have a dog, but you might want to borrow one and check it out!

  3. dandy_rose

    My favorite winter activities are walking and ice skating. If I’m being a baby about the cold, I take my walking into the enclosed shopping malls. Another option is to attend drop-in exercise classes through the local school district’s Community Education program (belly dance, aerobics, etc). Another decent way to remain active in winter is to go sledding! Walking up the hills is good for you.


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