Bad weather and early nights during the winter months can mean cramming last summer’s beach body into the latest ugly sweater in a larger size. Indoor workouts can help keep you and your family in great shape over the winter as well as keep the winter blues at bay. Best of all, there are plenty from which to choose.
Fun Ways to Exercise for the Whole Family
When devising a fitness plan, it’s always a good idea to start with your strengths and passions. An exercise routine doesn’t have to be boring or traumatic. What kind of fitness activities do you enjoy the most? There are ways to adapt your favorite activities into indoor workouts that will get your blood pumping and your muscles moving. And because you already enjoy them, you’ll be having so much fun you’ll forget you’re working out.
Love running? Find an indoor track to do laps? Love dancing; there’s a jazz class near you! Many community recreation centers have indoor pools for laps or just splashing around in a game of Marco Polo. If you start with fun as your goal, then choosing a winter exercise routine will come easy.
Bring the Outdoors Inside
If you miss the freedom of trailing biking and swimming, just look to your local YMCA to fill the gap over the winter with indoor workouts for the whole family. Get the spouse and kids in on your fitness program with great indoor activities that will have you all working out. You can work out, have fun, and build memories all at the same time:
- Roller skating
- Ice Skating
- Rock wall climbing
And if you want to really nail that “mom of the millennium” prize for sure, you could even put in your own climbing wall to enjoy all year round:
Hit the Rec Center to Stay in Shape
Some fun workout activities might not be for everyone, but winter might be the perfect time to take some classes at the local recreation center. Check with your county parks and recreation department to see what classes are available nearby. Many offer yoga, spinning, line dancing, and other activities. Many county Parks & Rec departments also have open facilities like weight rooms, basketball or racquetball courts and gyms. Bring your own ball and play dodgeball with your kids. Or shoot some hoops, one-on-one.
You can also try your local YMCA, which will have group classes for a wide variety of indoor workouts, including yoga, spinning, swimming, Zumba, aqua-aerobics and much more. Along with structured swimming and fitness classes kids and adults, they also have open pool hours and family programs for parents and small children, like music and movement and parent/child yoga.
Hit the Dance Floor for Indoor Workouts
For the artistically inclined, how about a parent/child dance class? Many studios offer classes for both mother and daughter participation (although dads and sons are getting into the act more frequently). And it doesn’t have to be frou-frou ballet, either. Many studios offer jazz and hip-hop dance classes, too.
Some families may want to explore their ethnic roots with folk dancing lessons from their ancestors’ homeland. Every nationality or cultural group seems to have its own folk dance, from English Morris dances to Egyptian Beledi to Irish Jigs to the Persian Baba Karam. Celebrate your family’s heritage with folk dance lessons and follow up with a traditional meal from the old country. It’s a great way to get in some indoor workouts as well as learn about your family origins.
Indoor Sports for the Whole Family
If you have facilities nearby, there are all sort of indoor sports you and your family can play. There’s no reason to become a slug during the winter with racquetball, squash, and gymnastics. Even low-key sports like billiards and darts provide practice with hand and eye coordination, and table tennis (ping pong) can become pretty intensely athletic for dedicated players.
If you’re looking for something different as well as athletic, try one of the new indoor extreme sports gaining more fans every day. Some facilities offer indoor paintball, usually using “reballs,” which are reusable balls that don’t splatter paint everywhere. Laser tag and archery tag are games that make great indoor workouts and are fun ways to exercise both your body and your inner warrior.
Stay In Shape On the Cheap
You can exercise inside without spending a lot of money, too. If your prime concern is staying in shape financially as well as physically, there are indoor workouts that don’t require expensive equipment.
Bargain Bin Aerobics
These activities are pretty much free, and in some cases already part of your daily routine.
- Jump rope
- Jumping Jacks
- House cleaning
Resistance is Thrifty
To keep your muscle fibers dense and strong, you’ll want to fit in some strength training along with aerobics. You can purchase a cheap set of hand weights or make do with what you already have.
- Water Bottle Weights: Create hand weights with varying sizes of bottles or milk jugs filled with water.
- Isometric Exercises. Isometric exercises, also known as static strength training, can be done nearly anywhere, so they make fabulous indoor workouts. The user builds muscle by holding muscle contractions for progressively longer times or more repetitions. Wall sits and planks are both isometric exercises.
- Body Weight Workouts: Some exercises use the weight of your own body to create resistance for building muscles. These are all common calisthenics that we learned in school PE, like lunges, push ups, sit ups, etc.
Exercising with Small Children
Literally with small children. Some parents need indoor workouts to increase their energy for chasing little ones from dawn to dusk. Because small children are more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to structured exercise, and aren’t usually old enough to participate in sports, some parents have found really clever ways of integrating toddlers and preschoolers into their home workouts. Small children often make a great set of weights.
You can purchase an inexpensive balance ball to work your core. Balance balls are perfect for beginners, even kids, and seniors. Also known as “stability balls,” these oversize rubber balls are great for people recovering from injury for gentle indoor workouts without dangerous sports equipment. Sitting or lying on the ball forces you to use your small inner balance muscles to stay upright or stable, which is actually more of a workout than you’d think. Kids think they’re a blast, too, so they’re great for exercising as a family.
Balance boards are also great core strength builders that can be used for indoor workouts. If you’ve never used one, it’s a bit like skateboarding without the risk of kissing the concrete. When using a balance board, your posture is very important. In fact, maintaining your posture is part of the exercise and what strengthens those core muscles. Keep your body straight and your knees bent. When you first start out, just staying upright will be a challenge. Adjusting your weight from side to side and front to back is what builds that core. Once you’re strong enough, you’ll be able to roll a bit, squat, tilt or even stand on one foot without falling over.
You can even make this DIY balance board:
Access Subscription and Free Workout Videos Online
If you have a stable internet connection, you can access thousands of free workout videos from home. They run the gamut from hardcore intense weightlifting to gentle yoga, and you usually don’t have to spend any extra money for them.
YouTube has so many indoor workouts uploaded, it’s nearly impossible to sort through them without becoming overwhelmed. However, here are a few of the most popular videos added this year:
- 5-Minute Workout – Bright Side.
- Total Body Stretch – blogilates
- 17 Min Strength Training Workout for Beginners – HASfit
Although Netflix doesn’t have any free workout videos for steaming, you can get a number of fitness DVDs through their subscription services. If your Netflix plan includes DVDs, it may be worth taking a look to see if they have the exercise video you have your heart set on.
If you signed up for free two-day shipping, stay for the hundreds of free exercise videos you can stream anytime day or night. Amazon Prime Videos has everything fitness, from Kick-boxing to Zumba to Yoga to 21 Day Transformation. They have videos for all levels of fitness, additionally, including kids and seniors. And if you’re pressed for time, they have plenty of indoor workouts that only take 15 minutes. Amazon Prime also has dance instruction videos, as well. Want to take up belly dance or hip-hop to burn off that extra weight and get fit? Amazon Prime has you covered with the cost of membership.
This website has exercise videos you can watch and follow, and lets you narrow them down by difficulty, focus, training type, and equipment required. It even lets you choose a male or female trainer for your video. You can then sort them by the shortest or longest, depending on how much time you have to workout.
Although the videos themselves are hosted on YouTube, visit the website for easy navigation to the type of indoor workouts you want. Smith offers some unique choices, too, including workouts that are easy on bad knees and backs, stretching workouts, routines that don’t need any equipment, and barre workouts for those inspired by the lean look and flexibility of ballet dancers.
Beachbody on Demand
If you’ve caught yourself staring at cable TV at 4 in the morning, eyeing one of the hardcore workouts like P90X or Insanity, Beachbody on Demand might be for you. Instead of dropping the cash all at once on a program, or if you can’t decide which one is for you, you can subscribe to Beachbody TV online. You’ll get access to all the programs for a subscription fee, but you can try before you buy, too, as they offer a 30-day trial.
This is another YouTube-based program, so all of the videos are free to view. Turbulence Training offers some really great extra videos along with the usual indoor workouts. There’s a video for turning a hike into walking meditation, inspirational videos, and even Paleo cooking videos.
Ultimate Pilates Workouts
The Ultimate Pilates website offers a free, basic membership that lets you watch a handful of full-length Pilates workout videos.
Workouts On Demand
Workouts on Demand offers a free streaming workout video that changes every week for a little variety to your program. If you feel like being surprised, then check them out once a week to see what indoor workouts
they’re offering this week.
There’s no reason that being stuck inside due to bad weather should have to result in putting on pounds. There’re a number of indoor workouts for the whole family to stay fit and healthy. Exercising during the winter months is crucial for staving off the seasonal doldrums, also known as Cabin Fever, and exercise has been shown to prevent depression. There are a number of indoors sports and activities that are fun for people of all ages and a plethora of free exercise videos for fitness programs from hardcore calisthenics to dancing lessons. Don’t let the long nights of winter drag you down; get moving and stay motivated with all the fitness resources available.
Featured Image: Composite with CC0 Public Domain images via Max Pixel and Pixabay.