10 Foolproof Workout Tips For Extreme NYC Winters

While you might be daydreaming about your beachy spring-break plans (or you recently booked your Hamptons summer share), all the ice and snow that's been dumped on New York City recently is here to remind us that we're not quite there just yet. Making it to Memorial Day weekend may seem like a faraway dream at the moment, but the truth is, you’ve got just weeks (16, to be exact) left of the cold. You can pass the time by hibernating in your apartment, or you can get your butt moving in a sweat-inducing, endorphin-creating workout. The only challenge? How to get out of bed to work out when it's still so freakin' chilly. Consider this your new workout plan (sorry, Kanye!).

1. Love Your Look 
If you love how you look while you’re staring into the mirror at barre class, you’ll enjoy making it to your sweat session every day. Consider this an excuse to go shopping — hit up the Flatiron area, a.k.a., the city's "fitness district," where you can go on a spree at New Balance, Nike, Athleta, and Lululemon. “Let’s be honest, we all like presents," trainer Adam Rosante (and author of The 30-Second Body) admits. "And, treating yourself to some new gear may be the motivation you need to get up and get out.” 

Once you find a look that's too comfy for words (we're kind of obsessed with Lululemon's Wunder Under pant), feel free to snuggle up under the covers in those bad boys. “Wear your workout tights to bed, so you literally have no excuse not to do your workout first thing in the morning,” says Bethany Lyons, co-founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga in Tribeca. If you can't get into the idea of sleeping in your gear, lay out your outfit the night before in a spot where you'll step on it while getting out of bed.
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Koral Activewear jacket, ICNY “1990” Reflective Sweatshirt Crew, Athleta vest, Koral Activewear Aspen Legging, Turtle Fur earband, Turtle Fur heavyweight fleece headband, Saucony Ulti-Mitt.
2. Pencil It In
Just like you do with all your facials, lunch dates, and happy hours, schedule your workouts as a priority on your calendar. “Grab your planner (or Google doc) and get specific about which days you’re training and what exactly you’ll be doing,” Rosante says. “Having everything written down clarifies your purpose and simplifies what’s often the most difficult part of a fitness routine: figuring out what to do.” 

Sure, it's still so cold that you need three layers just for your 3 p.m. Starbucks break, but seeing your workouts mapped out on a calendar (alongside other important events, like meetings and dinners) will allow you to hone in on how much closer to spring and summer you’re really getting. If able, aim for a midday workout, when it’s the warmest and sunniest outside; you could also probably use the afternoon pick-me-up before wrapping up the rest of that to-do list. 

3. Plan A Date
Why feel like you're being tortured alone? Grab a friend and get fit in freezing temps together. You wouldn’t dare cancel on a buddy who’s waiting in the park when the weather app says it feels like 10 degrees, right? “Working out with a friend adds a layer of accountability and responsibility, since you are scheduling a specific time and involving someone else,” Equinox master instructor Gerren Liles explains. “It really doesn't matter how fit your friend is; they just need to be determined to work out with you.” If you really want to make the most of your sweat session, though, a Kansas State University study discovered that choosing a workout buddy you think is stronger than you can actually help burn more calories.

4. Make No Excuses!
Saying, "It's too cold outside" is no excuse! Breathing in fresh air (regardless of how chilly it is!) is good for your body and is an overall health booster. A study published in Environmental Science & Technology reports that outdoor exercise can actually increase your energy while decreasing tension, frustration, and depression — something we could all use when the New York City sky seems to be permanently grey. For motivation, try joining an outdoor bootcamp, like Ariane Hundt’s Brooklyn Bridge Bootcamp, which draws a crowd of fitness fanatics regardless of what the thermostat says.
Advertisement
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
adidas Infinite Series Daybreaker Hoodie, Nike Aeroloft 800 Running Vest, BloqUV Hoodie Top. Athleta Stride Capri, Nike sneakers, CEP Progressive+ Night Calf Sleeves 2.0.
5. Warm Up!
You wouldn’t dare jump into a freezing car and speed off without letting it get all warm and toasty first, right? Well, think of your body in the same way. “In order to prevent injuries, make sure you warm up your muscles before even stepping foot outside,” Sylwia Wiesenberg, founder of Tonique Method, emphasizes. “Feeling warmed up will help take the bite out of the chill when you go outdoors.” Instead of taking the elevator down to the lobby of your building, use the stairs to instantly get your heart pumping. Or, do 30 to 50 squats and walking lunges in your living room (or hallway) to increase the blood flow in your legs. A British Journal of Sports Science and Medicine study found that dynamic stretching or warming up before a workout can boost your balance, agility, and movement time, too. Fitter, faster, and more powerful? We’re warming up to that! 

6. Disguise Your Workout
“Workouts don't always need to mean logging miles or clangin' and bangin' weights," Rosante says. "Go snowboarding, skiing, or snowshoeing, or get really adventurous and try something like ice climbing or ice sailing. At the end of the day, it all adds up to calories burned.” If you're like us, booking a weekend ski getaway with your friends sounds a whole lot better than hitting the treadmill. Escapes like Whiteface Lodge (Olympics enthusiasts can hit the games' museum on-site) and Mohonk Mountain House not only have ridiculous views, they offer an insane number of sweat-inducing activities for a (fun!) change of pace.
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Koral Activewear jacket, ICNY “1990” Reflective Sweatshirt Crew, Athleta vest, Koral Activewear Aspen Legging, Nike Free 1.0 Cross Bionic sneakers, ICNY Yellow “Original Dot” Half Calf 3M Reflective Performance Sock, Turtle Fur earband, Turtle Fur heavyweight fleece headband, Saucony Ulti-Mitt.
7. Pull A Jane Fonda
If you're really too cold to hit the pavement, keep your workout indoors! With a sudden explosion of streaming exercises, fitness apps, and those good ol' DVDs, you technically don’t even have to leave your apartment to get a serious sweat sesh in.

NBC Sports Network’s latest project, Radius Fitness, is our new obsession. Find your favorite trainers, like NUFit's Natalie Uhling and Keoni Hudoba of Cyc Method, every morning as they rock your workout between 6 and 9 a.m. on your TV screen; for an extra push, download the free Radius Fitness app and set up a monthly subscription. You’ll never find yourself asking, "What should I do today?" again. Other honorable mentions include: Rosante’s Reset 21 ChallengeShaun T’s latest Insanity Max:30, and celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser’s AKT Happy Hour.

Can't make the at-home workout work? (Hey, some of us just don't have the space...or focus!) “Go to as many classes and studios as possible and turn the winter season into your fitness lab,” Wiesenberg encourages. “Discover your favorite blend of moves and workouts and watch your body change. Variety is key.” Workout sampler programs like ClassPass will allow you to try tons of classes at different New York studios for only $99 a month; if you’re a try-things-once, maybe -twice, kind of girl, then this is the thing for you. 

8. Find An Anthem
There’s something about Ashanti’s “Rock Wit U” that always makes me close my eyes and feel the summer sun on my face — even when it’s the dead of winter and my toes are practically numb. That’s the thing: Our favorite summer songs can bring such fond memories that the Arctic reality we're facing won't feel that bad. “Create an awesome playlist with your favorite summer hits, so you’re inspired by the season and the memories it brings,” Wiesenberg suggests. Stack your playlist with a slew of throwbacks, and you’ll be looking forward to workouts just to listen to your tunes.
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Nike zip-up, Under Armour Qualifier Woven Jacket, Turtle Fur fleece neck warmer, Turtle Fur heavyweight neck warmer, adidas Beyond the Run pants, Under Armour Micro G Optimum Running Shoes, Under Armour Storm Coldgear Infrared Fleece Beanie, Under Armour ColdGear Infrared Core Liner Glove.
Advertisement
9. Set A Major Goal (And Lots Of Mini Ones!)
Signing up for a race is a surefire way to jumpstart your workouts; new research published in the Motivation and Emotion Journal suggests that keeping your eye on the prize may make exercise seem less daunting, too. The study suggests that having a specific goal in mind, like an upcoming 10K or mud run, makes sticking to those daily workouts easier than setting more vague targets, like looking good by summer.

The first step in training is actually registering for the race. Whether it’s the Frozen Penguin Half Marathon in Brooklyn or the NYPD vs. FDNY 5-Mile Run in March, make sure to click and pay so you know you're committed. If you have eight weeks until race day, training shouldn’t be seen as an eight-week challenge. Instead, break it up into manageable weekly goals. That way, when you accomplish your weekly runs, you will have eight mini-goals (and eight mini-successes!) under your belt. Experts say rewarding yourself for the baby steps along the way, like getting a manicure or a new shirt every time you hit a milestone, helps make the big picture seem less scary. And, we have absolutely no reason to disagree with that!

10. High-Intensity, All The Way
There’s a big set of stairs that faces the East River run path, and every morning it was my goal to get out of bed, run to those stairs, and go up and down a few times like a maniac before I’d let myself run the mile back home. It was quick, easy, and challenging — regardless of the weather. “A high-intensity workout, like stair-climbing, will keep your heart rate up and your body warm, so you’ll soon forget you’re outside in chilly temperatures,” says Liles. If you don’t have heart-pumping steps nearby, find another object, like a park bench, that can get your body temperature rising. Liles suggests a high-intensity circuit with moves like burpees, step-ups on a bench, push-ups, tricep dips, mountain climbers, and high-knees.
Advertisement