Sweaters can conceal a variety of sins, but wouldn’t it be better to emerge from hibernation this spring feeling fitter and stronger – or at least having offset some of that excessive holiday cheer? Here are 20 ways to break a sweat even on the coldest of winter days.
1. Go climb a rock: Rock climbing is a great overall workout that will challenge your balance, flexibility, and strength – and your courage, too. The Rock Spot rock gym in Peace Dale has a variety of climbing walls and bouldering courses with routes from beginner to expert, and provides full safety gear as well as instruction on fundamentals like belaying and lead climbing.
2. Feel swell in Narragansett: You’ll need a good wetsuit to keep off the chill, but winter storms generally bring the best surfing of the year to Narragansett Beach. Local surf shops Warm Winds and Narragansett Surf and Skate can rent or sell you the gear you need.
3. Get in the swim at URI: The natatorium (that’s a fancy word for swimming complex) at URI’s Tootell Aquatic Center has three specialized pools for swimming laps, diving, and recreational swim. Community swim hours are generally 6-8:30pm on weeknights, but check the schedule posted on the URI website to confirm. Community Rec membership required.
4. Skate like a boss: Whether you want to work on your loops and lutzes, play hockey, or just take some turns around the rink with your kids, URI’s Boss Ice Arena has you covered. The weekly schedule for the rink includes set hours for adult skating, figure skating, and public skating, when kids are welcome. Open hockey is from 1-2:50pm every weekday afternoon, and there’s a learn-to-skate session on Saturdays from 11am-12:50pm for newbies. Can’t get to the rink during the day? Come down on Saturday nights for Rock & Skate from 8-9:30pm.
5. Shred the slopes: How can a state without mountains have a ski area, you ask? Yawgoo Valley makes do with a modestly pitched hill and a whole lot of spunky attitude. Snowmaking starts as soon as the temperatures dip below freezing every winter, and the slopes fill with skiers and snowboarders happy to take multiple short runs rather than spending time driving to a bigger place. Both the ski area and snow tubing park have day and night sessions.
6. Play bigfoot in the snow: Make like Yukon Cornelius and strap on a pair of snowshoes for some winter cardio. Any relatively flat hiking trail sufficiently covered with snow can be traversed with snowshoes, but some particularly good routes can be found on the South County Bike Path, Arcadia Management Area, Great Swamp Management Area, and the Francis C. Carter Memorial Preserve in Charlestown.
7. Sleigh some hills: A good snowfall transforms the sand dunes on Division Street (near the intersection with Hopkins Hill Road) in West Greenwich into the best sledding spot in Rhode Island. Hills of varying heights let you choose your own daredevil level, and the hike dragging your sled up and down the hill makes this a good winter workout, too.
8. Outrun the cold: Just because it’s freezing outside, doesn’t mean you need to put away your running shoes. Hardcore runners keep up their routine whenever the streets are clear, of course, but even occasional road warriors can join one of the organized 5K races held throughout the season, including the Charlestown Chili 5K (January 26) and the Shamrock Shuffle 5K in North Kingstown (March 28).
9. Dance the calories away: Did you know that you can burn 400 calories per hour doing salsa, up to 550 doing swing, and between 150 and 320 ballroom dancing? Hit the dance floor at a local club or bar with live music or a DJ, or take a lesson from the Fred Astaire Dance Academy in Narragansett.
10. Jump around at Launch: Get in touch with your inner kid and hop on the trampolines at Launch in Warwick, where you can flip into a ball pit, scale a climbing wall, play dodgeball, and challenge friends to a game of laser tag.
11. Bag a gym membership: One good thing about winter is that it coincides with the end of the year, so keep an eye out for those New Year’s deals on memberships at local gyms.
12. Climb aboard the crosstrain: Why just get fit when you can get “crossfit”? South County is home to several CrossFit gyms that focus workouts on functional movement through a combination of weight training, gymnastics, interval training, and other fitness elements.
13. Heat up your yoga practice: Any yoga is good for the body as well as the mind, and “fitness yoga” is a serious workout. Add a little heat and humidity and you’ve got “hot yoga” – ideal for a midwinter workout to loosen up stiff limbs.
14. Take a spin: Ice and snow don’t play well with bicycle tires, but spin classes can give you a similar workout in the cozy confines of a studio – motivational music and expert instruction included. SoCo Cycle has classes daily.
15. Get in the ring: Martial arts, broadly defined, includes everything from karate and jiu jitsu to boxing and kickboxing. The Hard Knocks Boxing Club in West Greenwich offers fitness classes and instruction on the “sweet science” of boxing, while Just Train in North Kingstown has classes in kickboxing and a variety of exotic martial arts, including Jeet Kun Do, Muay Thai, the Filipino self-defense method of Pekiti Tirsia Kali, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. North Kingstown trainer Don Culp is best known as a karate instructor but also teaches jiu jitsu, boxing, and other disciplines. Premiere Martial Arts has courses based on those used by the Israeli army.
16. Gun for fun at Extreme Airsoft: You might be surprised how much of a workout you can get from simulated combat – the combination of competition and adrenaline is potent – even if you’re only getting shot at with tiny plastic pellets. South Kingstown’s Extreme Airsoft has guns, protective gear, and an indoor playing field for organized games and rentals.
17. Pass, shoot, kick, and stick at Wide World of Indoor Sports: This expansive indoor multi-sports center at Quonset Point in North Kingstown has organized adult leagues for soccer, football, field hockey, and lacrosse.
18. Show some love for tennis: Ever try to hit a tennis ball in subzero temps? They don’t bounce. But that’s not an issue at the Pond View Racquet Club in Westerly, which has three indoor hard courts and recently added two outdoor courts for paddle tennis – a game that, unlike regular tennis can be played in cold weather.
19. Get on track at URI: Love to run but hate chapped cheeks and frozen fingers? The Mackal Field House at URI has a six-lane, 200-meter indoor track that’s open for use by those with a URI Community Rec membership.
20. Bundle up for a winter hike: The stark natural beauty of winter in New England is evident on a hike through the King Benson Preserve in North Kingstown, the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge in Charlestown, the Long and Ell Ponds trail in Hopkinton, and the Ben Utter Trail in West Greenwich.