6 Ways to Work Out in Winter

Published: Tues., Jan. 26, 2016; by Jessica De Silva

Jessica De Silva portrait

Many graduate students compensate for sitting in the office or lab all day every day by setting aside time to workout. Personally, I enjoy having that hour each day to either reflect on the day’s events or not think about math. There are an uncountable number of benefits for working out (including getting a mental break from your work), so it's worth figuring out how to keep active even in the winter months.

As a California native, my first November in Lincoln taught me that I never really knew what winter was. I learned quickly that I had to adapt my workout routine for the winter months. Running in shorts and a t-shirt would have left me with frostbite, and I couldn’t imagine running with 15 layers of clothing on. I began exploring options for working out in the winter, and I'd like to share what I've found with you.

Try one of these winter-proof workouts this season, and enjoy the benefits of keeping active!

Rock climbers at the UNL Indoor Rock Wall. Image from UNL Outdoor Adventures

UNL Indoor Rock Climbing Wall

One of my newest hobbies is rock climbing at UNL’s Outdoor Adventure Center. The staff and fellow climbers are very friendly and supportive, making it a comfortable environment for everyone.

The best part about climbing is that people of all body types and athletic abilities can be successful. You don’t need to be able to do a pull up to get up the wall; problem-solving skills can get you a long way. I enjoy watching people climb the wall, since they tend to run into different problems during a route. Shorter people have to figure out a way to get to difficult to reach holds, while others may not be as flexible.

I have so much fun climbing that I don’t really notice I’m getting a workout. The first few times, I didn’t realize I had been working on my muscles until my forearms, shoulders, and back were sore the next day. Now, I’m developing my abilities. I’m trying to learn how to use my legs more to give my upper body a break. No matter how much I develop as a climber, there’s always more to learn!

Enrolled students at UNL have one free climbing pass to use each semester to try it out before taking the Climbing Basics class. The Climbing Basics class is $20 and runs M-F 5-7 PM and Sun 3-5 PM. Learn how to tie the figure 8 follow-through knot, how to belay, and all the safety guidelines for climbing. After the class you’ll use what you’ve learned to pass a skills check. Then you have free unlimited climbs for a year! It’s a great feature of UNL’s Outdoor Adventure Center and certainly a winter-proof workout. 

“cyclist on rollers”
Riding on rollers takes a little practice, but you can get the hang of it in 30 minutes. Photo from UNL Outdoor Adventures

Indoor Cycling with Rollers

Fellow Graduate Ambassador Michelle Haikalis recently bought bike rollers to be able to cycle indoors during the winter, and she's been enjoying how easy it is to workout when she can't get outside. Ever since she told me about them, I've been excited about trying them out.

Rollers are different than stationary bikes for many reasons. Specifically, you’re using your own bike to ride on top of the rollers. You can still fall, so you need to cycle and balance yourself just like an outdoor ride. To practice using them, put the rollers next to a wall or in a doorframe so you can balance yourself at the start.

Bike rollers vary in price, and are a great alternative to stationary bikes for avid cyclists, since they're able to avoid buying yet another bike that takes up valuable floor space in their apartments.

boats in the pool
Campus Rec offers many intramural sports and also activities. Photo from UNL Campus Rec

Intramural Sports

Yes, graduate students can participate in intramural sports! Grab a few friends and form a team. The math department has a team called Mathletes. We try to participate in most of the intramural sports: volleyball, flag football, soccer, and basketball.

Recently, UNL has offered intramural sports like bouldering, rifle shoot, 3-on-3 basketball, 9-ball pool, Texas Hold-em, pitch, bubble soccer, floor hockey, kickball, and battleship. Granted, not all of these count as a workout (and I’m not even sure what some of these sports are), but they’re fun nonetheless.

Check out the spring semester intramurals and get ready to have fun. Signup deadlines are relatively early so keep your eyes peeled!

Take dance classes at the Rec or, if you're feeling adventurous, in the community to meet people from outside the university. Photo from UNL Campus Rec

Dance Classes

Did you ever have a lifelong dream of becoming a professional ballerina or tap dancer? You may have missed your calling since you’re in graduate school, but you can live the dream by looking into the class offerings by many Lincoln dance studios. Most studios offer adult classes, so you won’t be taking Ballet 1 with three-year olds. Plus, dance classes are a great way to meet other people.

Campus Rec has fitness classes called Cardio Dance and Barre which may satisfy your dancing cravings. If you’re into ballroom dancing, UNL has a Ballroom Dance Club and a Tango Club. There are a few places in Lincoln which offer all sorts of ballroom classes.

“Cook Pavilion”
Photo from UNL Campus Rec

UNL Recreation Center

Working out at the Campus Rec seems like an obvious choice in the winter. After the recent renovation, both at City Campus and East Campus, the Rec Centers have gained popularity.

On City Campus, the strength and conditioning room has free weights, strength machines, cardio machines, and the Super Circuit for a quick, total body workout. You can also find different types of cardio machines in the aptly-named Cardio Zone on second floor.

There’s a lot more than just a weight room and cardio machines to the Rec Center. There’s an indoor track on the third floor overlooking the multipurpose courts where people play basketball, badminton, and volleyball. Cook Pavilion is an indoor turf field (the size of a football field) perfect for a game of soccer or football; some people also like using the space for jogging. There are racquetball courts and a squash court you can reserve at the Equipment Rental Desk. The Campus Rec also offers yoga and fitness classes throughout the year, and there’s a 5-lane indoor lap pool you can access through the locker rooms.

Consider renting a locker for the winter so you can shower and get cleaned up in the locker rooms instead of going back home in the cold. Lockers can be rented monthly or annually, and they have towels available to check out for free.

"Global Fitness" by Rance Costa

At-Home Workout

Are you snowed in on a weekend and still want to get in that workout? You don’t need a home gym, weights, or to run around your tiny apartment in circles for 30 minutes to get your heart rate up. There are many workout DVDs you can buy or stream on your laptop. And if you’d rather not drop a dime on a workout video, you can find many fitness videos available on YouTube. I suggest looking for yoga videos or bodyweight exercises because these are all things you can do anywhere. If you’re looking to build a mini-gym at home, a pair of resistance bands is a great, cheap investment for working those muscles at home or while traveling.