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Workouts For Those Who Hate The Cold And The Treadmill

It's winter, and for most that means it's time to hide inside away from the elements, and to cuddle next to the fire, the television, or another person. The active runner in you died when the leaves started to fall and the wind picked up. The swimmer in you hung up the towel when wet hair stopped drying in the sun. The skateboarder or biker in you just can't enjoy themselves in a puffy coat. Never fear. There are fun workouts to do when it's chilly outside. Here's my description/review of a workout I've grown to love for every day of the week this winter.

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Monday: Shred

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Starting off the week with a bang. This type of exercise is called different things in different cities. Here in Boston some might have heard of Barry's BootCamp, at home in Chicago, we have Shred. While, yes, this workout does involve the treadmill, it's a group class that alternates between treadmill hills and sprints and weighted workouts. The mix of cardio and weights is killer, and the motivation provided by others in class and the desire to beat your own warm-up pace is great. The best part? You're never doing treadmill or weights for more than 15 minutes at a time. Perfect for those who want to get in a good sweat but have a somewhat short attention span.

Tuesday: Yoga

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Though lots of people rag on yoga as easy, if done right, this can be an incredibly intense workout. Incredible strength is needed to hold the poses in the correct position, and the use of breath and concentration is known to improve your concentration and balance as well as your muscle tone. The stretching part of the class is restorative for aching muscles and also for your overall posture and sense of health. Perfect to do after a day of shred, because trust me, you're gonna feel the tightness when you wake up Tuesday morning.

Wednesday: Spin

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There are so many spin studios nowadays, it's hard to believe that many haven't given it a try. While stationary biking might sound like a snooze, these classes are anything but. The resistance elements on spin bikes make it an individualized workout, while energetic teachers and music playlists make it competitive and fast-paced. Often there are themed classes, so you can go to those that suit your music or workout tastes. You can even opt for a candle-lit session if feeling zen helps you work through the pain. One of my favorites is the "Clash of the Justins" class at SoulCycle. Timberlake vs. Bieber gets you singing and sweating and spinning all at once.

Thursday: Barre

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Barre classes were introduced as a workout class for ballerinas and other dancers because they use a ballet barre (and were developed by an ex ballerina), but anyone can benefit from the bodyweight strength training and flexibility that these classes focus on. The classes start in the center of the room with pilates-like exercises that work the core, followed by arm exercises with light weights or resistance bands and then barre work for legs and glutes. I like these classes specifically because you're mostly using your own weight to get stronger. You decide what your limit of reps is, and the shaking muscles are evidence that there's a serious effect during every class.

Friday: Weight Training/Pilates

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If you're dead by Friday, you might not feel up to a group weight training class, but often find that pilates is just as difficult. With the use of equipment like medicine balls, resistance bands, weights and steps, classes like these are more typically "gym-like" but can be spiced up by good teachers and supportive friends who push you through the sets. I like to add weights in again at the end of my week to prove to myself how strong I can be. Ambitious, but rewarding.

Saturday: Boxing

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Boxing is so hard. Even if you're a beginner, bouncing around and punching and kicking is going to take a lot out of you. These classes are usually private lessons or in smaller groups, but you'll need the individualized attention to make sure your form is safe and accurate. You'll be winded, but after you'll feel tough and independent, and who wouldn't enjoy that?

Sunday: Hot Yoga

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Totally different animal. You add heat to a yoga class, and things change. Breathing becomes more difficult, your heart and lungs work harder, you find yourself bending more because your muscles are warmer, etc. If regular yoga isn't enough, give this a try. You're still building strength and flexibility, but are given a completely new obstacle to overcome. Take the day of rest and shove rest in the face - you are strong and you are ready for a new week of workouts!

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