Supposedly, the number of days of summer is equal to the number of days of winter. But somehow – to me anyway – it always seems as if the summer goes by SO MUCH QUICKER. And here we are, in September again.
The hours of daylight are considerably shorter, so if you were working out before or after work during the summer, it is now dark at those hours. If you were enjoying the balmy warm temperatures when heading out the door for a workout, you now have to consider what over-layer to wear – at least to start your workout. And in a few short weeks, once again, many of us will be returning to indoor workouts, almost exclusively.
Fortunately there are some new (and some old but recycled) accessories that can help to make the transition to indoor activities more palatable and effective. Below are three that I have either used personally or been informed by my clients and close circle of workout partners that they make indoor workouts better.
Waterproof MP3 players for pool swimming
If you are a fitness swimmer who swims for laps or a tri-athlete who swims for distance, you know how mind-numbing it can be to come inside and swim laps in a pool. All summer long, you have been able to enjoy open water swims. There, you are mentally stimulated by having to sight and stay swimming a straight line by watching the landline, and you get to enjoy seeing the sky and sun and great outdoors every time you rotate your head to take a breath. Now it is back in the pool, swimming laps, which to me feels like a rat on a wheel. The only mental stimulation is to try to remember what number lap you are on so you can keep track.
One of the greatest technology additions to the fitness world of swimming has to be the invention of waterproof MP3 players. Now you can listen to music just like you would when running on a treadmill, riding an indoor bike or taking an indoor exercise class. Research definitely shows that music helps to motivate and achieve higher levels of intensity, but up to fairly recently, listening to music was not an option in the pool. Well this is no longer the case.
The Finis Neptune MP3 player is one of many options of water-proof music systems that easily attaches to a pair of goggles and allows you to program your own music listening pleasure and motivation for your indoor swim workouts. The price range for these devices runs $100 to $200. When you consider how much more pleasant it is to swim with music when doing swims of 2,000 yards and greater, you will recognize the priceless value of this accessory.
Versa Gripps for weight training
If you lift weights heavy enough to get muscle and strength development (and everyone over age 40 needs to do this type of lifting, especially menopausal women and men over age 50) then you know that it is the weakest link in the muscular-skeletal chain that gives out first. Oftentimes nowadays, through the increased use of computers, cell phones and gaming devices, it is our wrists and grip muscles that become fatigued and give out when trying to perform a bench press or assisted pull up. If the wrists give out, then you do not get the loading you need to actually preserve or build the larger muscles targeted by the exercise.
Lifting gloves are an accessory that can help get a better grip so that you can use the proper weights to get the results you are after. Weightlifting gloves are not a new accessory but because heavy lifting is not as in vogue as HITS type training right now, you may have either forgotten about them or just not been exposed to their existence. Using weightlifting gloves is an accessory that can turn indoor lifting workouts into much more enjoyable and effective experiences.
There is a newer generation accessory called the Versa Gripp, a combination of wrist wrap and lifting grip that supports the wrist while providing extra grip to the hands. This accessory is much easier to use then traditional wrist straps and can be put in place using just one hand. Older style wrist straps are awkward and require frequent use to get the hang of it.
Versa Gripps retail for approximately $50 and lifting gloves can be purchased for $25 to $75. This accessory is less about making your indoor workout more fun, but is all about making it more effective.
Activity tracking devices
These arm or wrist band devices are fast becoming viral for tracking daily activity totals and rates and patterns throughout the day. When they first hit the stores, I was not a fan, but now I can see that they are valuable because they provide feedback and awareness that was unavailable before they were invented.
Basically, these devices track calories, steps or activity rates in some way. You wear them and get information that makes trying to be more active much more motivating and fun. If you wear them during an indoor workout, you can use the data to self-compete and try to do even more in your next workout. You can compare days when you get to the gym to days that you don’t and see just what a difference getting to the gym can make in daily energy consumption.
The brand that my clients seem to like the best is Fitbit. For about $100, you can enjoy the extra motivation of tracking your activity now that the days are shorter and will get colder and our activity rate is in danger of becoming getting up and down from the couch for snacks while watching people on TV play sports.
There also are great tracking apps on your phone now. Body Wise is one app that my clients use. If you are someone whose phone is actually strapped to your upper arm when you work out, you can use it for a music system. Upload Body Wise and it can serve as a music system and activity tracking motivator.
It is inevitable that we need to come inside for workouts in the darker fall and winter months, but with a little help from some great accessories, coming inside can actually be stimulating and enjoyable!
Judy Torel is a USAT certified coach, has a Master’s degree as a psychotherapist/life coach, is a certified metabolic nutrition coach, 200 RYT yoga instructor, and ACSM certified fitness specialist. She is an ultra-distance runner and 6 time Ironman competitor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and her office is located at 116 Everett Road, Albany.