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by Janet Frank Atkinson, Peace Coffee Bike Team Racer

Think outside the icebox and chase away the winter blues. These tips will help fire up the endorphins and help you stay happy, fit and healthy this winter.

Get out of the house and take a class. Many facilities offer punch card systems or month-to-month memberships. There are an abundance of group fitness classes out there ranging from Yoga, Pilates, Bootcamp, Hip-Hop Cardio, Indoor Climbing, Boxing, and Indoor Cycling classes. It can be very energizing to exercise with a group of people. And you might be less likely to slack off when you’re sweating away with a group of like-minded folks.

Hit the Iron. Weight training is perfect cross training for the cyclist looking to gain strength in the off-season, and the right program will help increase muscle endurance. But for the rest of us, weight training is also the best way to build lean muscle and change the appearance of your physique. Sure, cardio is great, but the lean muscle you develop will help you burn more calories and melt the fat. And ladies: don’t worry about “bulking up.” Women don’t have enough testosterone in their body to build insane muscles. So, hit the weights!

Buddy up. Find a workout partner who matches your drive, fitness level, and is serious about working out. It’s harder to blow off a workout when you know someone is counting on you. Or, if you want to learn a new exercise routine or work on specific sports training, buddy up to the professional expertise of a certified personal trainer.

Plan for Motivation. Find a late winter or early spring athletic event. Sign up. Pay for it. And start training for it NOW. It will give you the motivation to get out there and train. Track it on your calendar and create a training plan to prepare for your early season recreational endeavor

Purchase new workout clothes. Sure, you can workout in a pair of beat up sweats and baggy t-shirt with armpit stains. But I find that when I wear flattering and colorful athletic clothes to the gym, it picks up my mood during the dreary winter days and gives me an extra push to workout harder. And I’ll admit, it’s silly, but the thought of putting on a new pair of exercise pants, new shoes, or even a new pair of socks makes me a little more giddy about going to the gym!

Create a New Exercise Soundtrack. New music can create a new attitude about exercising. Check out exercise/workout forums online (there is typically a thread created where users share their favorite workout songs), or “Hot New Releases” and “Best Sellers” on iTunes or for ideas.

Go on a Virtual Ride. Stuck on the trainer? For a small fee, The Sufferfest offers 60-minute structured training videos featuring fun music and motivating footage. Ride the 2009 Paris-Roubaix, bomb through a downhill mountain bike course, and take a jaunt through luscious single-track. Videos may be downloaded to your iPod, iPhone or laptop. (Caution: videos may cause motion sickness). Check out the Indoor Cycling Resource tab for a list of links to play lists and pod casts.

Create a Workout Ritual. It can help get your head in the game, and you’ll be less likely to blow off your workout. Your ritual could range from eating a standard preworkout meal (for me, it’s 100% oats mixed with chocolate protein powder), to listening to your “theme” song, or just enjoying a cup of Peace Coffee at home or your desk before hitting up your workout.

Try something new. The off-season is the perfect time to explore a new sport and the winter season offers a variety of outdoor exercise options. Perhaps this is the year you deck out your bike with studded tires and ride the snow-packed trails, try speed skating, snowshoeing, ice climbing, or take up cross-country skiing.

Mix up the tips and suggestions throughout the winter season. Not only will it improve your mood, but you’ll be thankful come spring when you pull out the summer clothes and find that they didn’t shrink while in storage.

Janet Frank Atkinson, NASM-CPT is a Personal Trainer & Fitness Coach specializing in weight loss, weight management, post-rehab exercise programs and healthy eating strategies. Learn more at

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