I'm not a serious exerciser. I belong to the gym, but only because I am a fair-weather walker. I figured that forces me to be active even if it's rainy or a tiny bit cold or too hot or whatever the excuse of the day. I go for thirty minutes, do the elliptical or ride the bike while I watch the movie or listen to my iTunes and I'm good.
Being housebound for a few days doesn't make me too stir crazy. If I need to move, I'll walk a few laps in the house with the dog following me, curious as to why I've suddenly gone daft. But what do real workout gurus do when the weather is wicked?
Some of them still go outside. PR guru and distance runner Laura Scholz typically runs five or six days a week, outdoors, year-round. She hates the treadmill and has no plans on staying inside.
"The roads were actually great during the last round of snow and ice, so I ran in the roads because no one was driving on them. I have a flexible schedule, so I usually run around lunchtime when it's a bit warmer."
Laura also teaches Pilates, so if she can't get to the gym to her classes, she either watches an online video or does a mat workout from memory.
"It's rarely unsafe (in Atlanta) to run outdoors," Laura insists. "Lightning and thunderstorms are about it, and I tend to watch the weather and plan around."
Dr. Brunilda Nazario, lead medical editor in town here at WebMD, is a major fitness buff. When I stop by the office sometimes, I duck under the desk when she looks for volunteers to run up and down the steps at lunchtime. WebMD, by the way, is on the twenty-second floor, so that's a lot of flights.
Cold weather doesn't mean Dr. Bruni parks herself on the couch for reruns of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman."
"When I’m forced to stay home, I’m lucky enough to have an indoor bike trainer. I can continue to get a few miles on my bike even though I’m home. People that have exercise equipment have that advantage. Treadmills, weights, BOSU balance, or DVDs on calisthenics, yoga, and meditation all work to help you continue to do exercise regularly," she says.
"Otherwise, housework or spring cleaning can help burn calories and keep you physically active. Whatever I do, I try to gauge my efforts with steps or a fitness monitor."
My friend, Teresa Dore, has run six marathons and more half marathons than she can count. I actually like her a lot, despite the fact that she sometimes runs twenty miles on a Saturday just for the fun of it.
Teresa says, "I don't live in Minnesota so I don't need a true 'winter strategy.' However, I also do not sit still. When I am home, I am up on my feet cooking. I haul laundry baskets up and down the stairs. I watch what I eat. I drink a lot of water. I plan out my next run or my next trip to the YMCA."
She says she realizes that being temporarily frozen is just that—temporary. And when she can get back outside, she will go for a very long run.
"Attitude is the key. I see myself as an athlete, even though I'm just a regular mom. I'm by no means an athlete. But that's the lie I tell myself, so I will not neglect exercise," she says. "Even when I am training for a marathon, the schedule builds in rest days so as to prevent injury. These are unplanned for, unexpected, forced rest days. But I welcome them until they go on too long."
If she gets cabin fever, after baking, cooking, cleaning, and immersing herself big time in the Olympics, Teresa will just bundle up and go for a walk.
"A brisk walk is great and while I'm out traipsing in the snow and ice, I will daydream of my next run."
I am really glad Teresa lives kind of far from me. I can only imagine her briskly walking up my ice-covered front walk and demanding I go with her for a stroll.