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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Winter Workouts - Indoor Options to Beat the Blahs

by Barb Amrhein

Even sunny southern states face chillier days when the great outdoors looks a little less inviting. DVD programs and free weights are solid indoor choices to keep up our fitness routine, but we also can look forward to moving beyond those basics to more adventurous pursuits at local fitness clubs, health centers and YMCAs. This winter, try some of these activities to stay in shape while having fun.

Take a spin

The latest version of stationary bike riding, called spinning, continues to pick up in popularity, burning about 350 to 500 calories per 45-minute workout while toning the lower body. The trademarked indoor cycling equipment workout, created by endurance athlete Jonathan Goldberg in 1987, employs stationary bikes modified to feel like mountain bikes, allowing riders to change speed and resistance levels. In a class setting, instructors employ music and coaching to lead riders through routines designed to simulate outdoor terrain, with hill climbs, sprints and interval training.

According to Laurie Pace, Group Exercise Coordinator at the Morrison YMCA in Ballantyne, indoor cycling is for all fitness levels. “The intensity of the ride is determined by the amount of tension on the bike or by increasing your revolutions per minute,” she states. “A more novice participant will work with lesser tension at a slower cadence and will slowly increase speed and intensity.”

Many outdoor cyclists often utilize indoor cycling classes to train during the winter months. Pace says that spinning can simulate a road ride experience through adjustments in pedal resistance, cadence and by varying body position. “ It’s comparable to outdoor running versus treadmill running - same action, but a different feel.”

Get some kicks

Kickboxing adeptly fuses elements of martial arts and boxing with aerobics to burn calories, build stamina and relieve stress. Set to beat-bound music, kickboxing movements vary from non-contact air kicks and punches or blows to actual punching bags.

“Kickboxing is an excellent aerobic activity that anyone can do, especially if you understand which movements can be adapted to adjust the intensity level,” says Lyn Addy, owner of Lyn’s Boot Camp in Charlotte. “If anyone is struggling with joint issues that prevent bouncing or jumping, they can change to either just a simple forward and back stepping pattern, or small shuffle step.” She adds that kickboxing is excellent for core conditioning and increasing flexibility.

Dive right in

Water exercise is accessible to almost all ages regardless of swimming ability. While lap swimming boosts cardiovascular fitness, water aerobics and other pool-based classes offer variety and camaraderie. Most are music-based—think splash dancing—with choreographed moves and exercises that may use water dumbbells and webbing props for full-body benefits. Pool noodles—inexpensive cylindrical foam flotation devices that resemble their name—are often used for balance, resistance and buoyancy. Students can bring their own or snag one provided by the facility.

Jason Quinton, Senior Aquatics Director at the Harris YMCA, says water workouts have definite advantages. “Water provides a liquid weight machine that offers a resistance type workout which may aid in activities of daily living. The water acts as a cushion to lessen the stress on joints making it ideal for individuals with arthritis or similar conditions.”

Climb a wall

Pronounced upper body strength is not a prerequisite for tackling an indoor climbing wall. Experts note that scaling these manmade heights is entirely safe, because climbers wear a safety harness and climbing shoes provided by the facility. Finger and hand crevices, slabs and overhangs, as well as modular holds bolted onto the artificial rock wall, assist climbers as they move laterally or pursue the summit. Most children relish indoor climbing, so it’s an ideal choice for family fitness adventures.

“Our members and customers find that while climbing is a major body workout, there is a key mental component that accompanies it,” says Chip Ratterree, manager of Inner Peaks in Charlotte, which offers climbing activities for the novice to the seasoned veteran. “The ability to set a goal and work to achieve it, whether it’s a fear of heights or simply wanting to climb more difficult routes, really constitutes the bulk of what people are trying to accomplish in the end.”

Accomplishing something different—in a gym or pool, on a bike or up a wall—adds enjoyable new dimensions to winter fitness. As always, remember to check with a healthcare practitioner before beginning unaccustomed activities. To learn more about spinning and aquatics classes at local YMCA’s visit

Learn more about Lyn’s Boot Camp at

Inner Peaks Climbing Center is located at 9535 Monroe Rd. # 170. Info:

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