We’ve all been there: temperatures at the single digits… the sky dark despite the hour and outside still with everyone ensconced at home… you, perfectly toasty in your comfiest PJs, under mounds of fluffy blankets and pillows… and suddenly, you remember: you have to hit the gym in ten minutes. Must you, really?

The short answer is yes, you definitely must. Even if it’s long past Beach Body Season, you should still keep up a workout regimen. As the saying goes … “Summer bodies are built in winter”. But for those who (understandably) prefer the warmth of their homes to the frigid cold outside, here are eight ways to stay motivated to work out in winter.

Stay Cozy

If you can’t stay in warm indoors, then bring the warmth out with you. Put on all the layers you need, keeping in mind that you’ll be moving around in them a lot. If you’ll be exercising outside, bundle up with comfy shirts and jogging pants. Thermal underwear is also a lifesaver. Just remember that you’ll eventually be warm from your exertions, so don’t overdo the layers.

A nifty trick is get started while still indoors. Do a number of jumping jacks, jog in place for a few minutes, or just do an extended version of your regular warm-up routines so the temperature difference doesn’t hit you too bad.

Get On A New Program

Summer workouts usually happen early in the morning or late at night when the weather’s most likely coolest, so switch it up this winter and workout when the day’s at its hottest.

Given that this will almost always be at lunch time, adjust your regimen so you can get the bulk of your work on your lunch break. Find a gym that’s only a short distance away from your work, or see if your building comes with its own fitness centre. If this isn’t an option, you can always go on a lunch run around the area, even actually picking up your lunch while you’re at it.

Smaller workouts like aerobic exercises are great for a smaller time frame, because you can easily set-up in a second. Just be sure to eat after the workout.

Stay Inside

The gym is perfect during the winter. It’s definitely warmer than the sub-zero outdoors, and there’s a good chance you’ll have the place to yourself (or at least, not be jostled as much during the warmer months) when everybody’s shutting themselves inside.

Imagine getting on the treadmill without having to wait in line! Think about a clean, dry bench press! Imagine not having that pressure put in just a few more minutes, or a few more weights, because you somehow feel like others are silently judging you (they’re not)!

Definitely hit the gym during the winter and take advantage of the down season to squeeze in all the workouts you didn’t have time (or space) to try on more crowded days. Ask the management if there are any special events, promos, or discounts happening to really make the most out of the opportunity.

Run In The Spring

Sign up for a challenging spring marathon (think 10k, cross-country, etc.–the harder, the better) and create a new training regimen for that event. For that added incentive, specifically look for ones where you have to pay for your slot, so you’re more motivated not to let your money go to waste. Train steadily and continuously throughout the winter, taking advantage of the above-mentioned tips on your practice runs. 

Eat Healthy

Apparently you really are what you eat, so when you eat warm, comfort foods, you’re more likely to want to stay warm and comfy at home rather than up and active outside. Stock up on nutritious, well-balanced meals to give your body the fuel it needs to combat the cold and stay in top shape.

Try switching your regular foods with super-charged versions every once in a while, especially on days when you need an extra boost. For example, instead of just getting regular coffee, try one that’s loaded with other energy-boosting ingredients to really give you that much-needed pick-me-up.

Listen To Summer

Many winter tunes are mellow jams perfect for the cozy and lazy vibe, so stay clear of these carols when working out. Instead, load up on upbeat summer hits to better get into that energetic vibe. Download the songs that remind you most of warmer months, lively parties, brilliant sunshine, and all the other things that make summer a fantastic time to work out.

Take this little mental exercise up a notch by dressing in summer colours and patterns. This nifty trick isn’t so much as to make you forget about the winter chill, but to make you look forward to that sultry summer heat.

Tag A Friend

Whether it’s “the more, the merrier” or “misery loves company”, there’s no denying that having a friend along can really brighten up a dreary winter workout.

Get your friends on board with your workout regime, and even consider signing up with them on the marathon. Sync your goals so you’re really all in it together, and help to keep each other on track especially for the occasional, expected lazy day.

Be Disciplined

Ultimately, motivation, or “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something”, can be a fickle thing, and, therefore, not to be counted on to tide you through the long, arduous winter. While you and your friend might feel inspired to run a 10K today, a change in weather tomorrow might make you feel differently. With that being said, it’s infinitely better to face your fitness goals with something that would stay with you in the long run: discipline.

Disciplining yourself can undeniably a challenge onto itself, but the rewards are definitely worth it. You’ll maintain a routine that significantly improves your body and overall well-being, and you constantly get the satisfaction of a job done–and a job done well at that.

You don’t have to worry about feeling bummed because of the cold because your body is all set to do what needs to be done anyway. At the end of the day, being disciplined means you don’t have to constantly struggle to push yourself to feel like doing things–you know you’ll get them done.

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Working out in the winter can be a walk in the park–literally and figuratively–with the right mindset. Warm up properly before heading out. Time your workout when the sun is shining. Hit the gym. Sign up and train for a spring marathon. Eat the right foods to keep your energy. Listen to summer beats that get you moving in the warmer months. Get a friend to keep you company.

And above all, have the discipline to keep at your fitness goals, especially for those times when you just “don’t feel like it”. You can also take out a membership in a no-contract fitness club like Rec Express where you can receive guidance from expert trainers, and not worry about getting stuck in contracts that can be so insanely strict.

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