Unconventional indoor workouts to keep you moving all winter long

November 28, 2016

BALTIMORE ó Itís easy to let summer fitness goals fall by the wayside once colder weather sets in.

Traditional indoor workouts might seem monotonous. The fear of frostbitten ears and fingertips might make you give that run a second thought. But there are ways to incorporate engaging fitness activities within the comfort of the indoors.

Sometimes, all it takes is a little research ó and a lot more excitement.

You might not become a pro in months, but you have plenty of unconventional options to get a fitness fix indoors.

AERIAL SILKS

Anneliese LaTempa, a 28-year-old Graceland Park resident, began her search for a year-round fitness regimen more than three years ago. She tried lifting weights and ran a 5K race, but she was looking for something that would keep her interest. LaTempa opted for aerial silks, an exercise reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil acrobats who perform dance routines from fabrics hung from the ceiling.

"I remember thinking, ĎThis is so hard. This is the hardest thing Iíve ever done,í" said LaTempa. Around a year later, she became an instructor at Baltimoreís Urban Evolution gym.

This rope climbing, dance and acrobatics-hybrid helps develop body awareness and strength while creating routines, according to LaTempa, who now teaches aerial silks classes to ages 6 and up.

"Itís a total-body workout, from your legs to your hip flexors to your glutes, your abs, arms and your shoulders. Ö Many muscles are working together to achieve a goal," she said.

Students work to master grips, knots, splits and drops using the silks, and when theyíre ready, they perform full routines at recitals for friends and family.

"My body has really changed," said Erin Draper, 26, of Canton, who has taken the class for the past two years. "Itís a really great physical and creative outlet for me. It gets me to the gym because Iím focusing on what Iím learning and how I can put the moves together rather than just coming with the goal of changing my body and being fit."

BROOMBALL

Played on a National Hockey League-size ice rink, broomballís concept and positioning is similar to that of ice hockey, but donít worry: "If youíre not good at skating, you donít have to learn," said Beth Williams, 41, who founded the Baltimore Broomball Club 10 years ago.

Instead of skates, players wear spongy-soled shoes to gain traction while running on ice and using sticks with molded, broom-shaped heads to maneuver an inflatable ball on the ice. Two teams, each with six players, go head-to-head trying to score the most goals in 50 minutes, which makes for a good aerobic workout, according to Williams.

"Youíre trying to stand on ice. Ö Your inner thighs hate you. Itís a leg workout. Itís also a pretty healthy arm workout," she said.

Dan Finke, 29, of Parkville, Md., joined the club, which features around 250 members, about a year ago after a colleague introduced him to the sport.

"Itís unique, and itís definitely demanding from an athletic perspective," he said, but the team aspect and running around on the ice make it fun, he said.

TRAMPOLINE FITNESS

Trampoline parks like Sky Zone and Rockiní Jump are known for wall-to-wall bouncy recreation, but fitness is also an offering.

Connor Bellamy, 23, an instructor at Sky Zoneís Timonium, Md., location, teaches SkyFit, an array of low-impact core exercises and strength-building aerobics performed on trampolines.

Participants are said to burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour. The classes consist of jumping and running exercises, abs and core workouts, squats and interval training, sometimes aided by additional equipment, he said.

"What you put in is what you get out. Ö Nothing is too harsh on your body," Bellamy said.

Mitchell Garnher, 27, of Timonium has knee problems and said he was hesitant at first to try the workout, but he was surprised to find that he could sprint from wall to wall without hurting himself. And if there was a workout that was too strenuous, Bellamy "had no issue with modifying the exercise."

KANGOO JUMPS

Sometimes gadgets are just what you need to spice up a workout. Classes that require participants to wear Kangoo Jumps shoes, which lift people into the air with every jump, are an alternative to the average aerobics class. Some even argue that theyíre safer.

"Itís a high-intensity, low-impact aerobic fitness tool that is versatile in every environment. You can use these Kangoo Jumps boots indoors and outdoors, in the studio, on fitness runs. Ö Theyíre rehab for runners with leg injuries," said Amy Willis, 54, a Kangoo Jumps instructor at Club De Cycle in Windsor Mill and Swingtime Ballroom in Hydes, Md.

Lorraine Bailey-Carter, 56, of Belcamp, Md., said Kangoo Jumps classes are one of the few exercises that donít irritate her hip replacement or her knee, which she damaged during a standard aerobics class.

"It gives me the illusion that I am in a pool of water. I have no impact, and cardio-wise, itís an awesome exercise," Bailey-Carter said.

Though Kangoo Jumps are easier on the joints, they work all the body and help strengthen the spine and reduce back pain when paired with aerobic workouts, said Wills, who has been teaching for about a year. Plus, she said, with the music and Club De Cycleís disco lights, itís easy to forget that youíre working out.

SURFSET

If youíre missing summer waves, thereís a way to indulge in, or at least mimic, a coastal lifestyle ó without the water ó no matter the season. Surfset classes, which incorporate surfboards into 50-minute aerobic and high-intensity interval-training workouts, engage the core and toning the arms and legs, according to BeachFit Baltimore owner Alison Schuch, 38.

The class uses smaller-sized surfboards, called Ripsurfer X boards, which are mounted on three balancing balls and tied down with stretchy cord so surfers wonít fall off, Schuch said. Participants must then balance on the surfboard while doing surfing-like movements and exercises, including squats and lunges.

"It incorporates the boards as much as possible," while providing some beach vibes, she said. (Schuch and her staff also play surf movies in the background.)

And while surfset doesnít necessarily teach you how to ride a wave, Schuch said the surfboard-based exercises help build the balance and muscles needed for the sport, which can keep you in shape until summer returns.

PARKOUR AND NINJA WARRIOR

Whether youíre practicing to become the next American Ninja Warrior or working on your flips, classes and indoor obstacle courses can help take your flexibility and strength to the next level.

Alternate Routes Gym, a 5,000-square-foot facility, has zones dedicated to parkour, along with a ninja warrior obstacle course, which boasts a double salmon ladder and the infamous warped wall.

Gym owner Tony Torres, 34, said the gym has seen the likes of local "American Ninja Warrior" veteran Geoff Britten and other national competitors. But no pressure, he said: The gym, which also offers ninja warrior classes for children, features an "open gym" for all skill levels to explore. Various levels of parkour classes are also available, teaching myriad leaps, flips and jumps, which can easily be done outside, where parkour is typically performed.

"You donít have to be doing flips if you donít want to be doing flips. You donít got to do the big jumps. You just work on yourself day to day," Torres said.

GYMNASTICS

Olympic gymnastics may have been a childhood aspiration for many, but facilities in the area will allow you to inch toward your dreams in adulthood. Urban Evolution and gymnastics center Sokol Baltimore offer classes for all ages, including parent-child classes for families who want to practice together and adult-only open gym sessions and classes.

At Sokol, the 90-minute open gym classes begin with 20-minute warmups, followed by tumbling exercises on a spring floor and free time to use equipment, including parallel bars, a high bar and balance beams, said program director Joseph Ehrenberger.

Each session focuses on strength, flexibility and timing, often ending with conditioning and stretching exercises. Skill level and ages vary, he said.

"Our youngest [adult] gymnasts are in their early 20s and the oldest in their early 60s," Ehrenberger said. Many are former cheerleaders and competitors who havenít been on the floor in years.

"Youíd be surprised how well muscle memory works," he said.

INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING

If youíre missing the vastness and adventure of the great outdoors, indoor rock climbing may help tide you over during the winter.

Indoor rock walls available at various recreation centers, including some locations of The Y in Central Maryland and Earth Treks Climbing in Timonium and Columbia, offer the opportunity to learn rock climbing basics during classes and to blaze new paths during open sessions.

"The rock wall is a great place to strengthen the arms and learn a little bit more technique," said Jill Black, the vice president of swim and family programming at the Y of Central Maryland.

POLE DANCING

Shed some of your layers of fat and opt for a more sensual workout.

Vertical Bodies Studio is one of the few places in the city to host pole dancing classes in different styles. "Pole Beauty," dubbed "the sexiest way to work out," focuses on sensual pole movements, transitions and safety, while the CrossFit-inspired "Pole Beast" series focuses on strength and endurance through pole drills, cardio and composition, according to Katherine Gero, 35, owner of Vertical Bodies. "Spin Pole Series," which is for the more advanced dancer, features a spinning pole to practice perfecting grips and transitions.

"Itís an all-body workout," Gero said, noting that the exercise engages the legs, core and upper body during grips, which can be the most challenging part. Most women, however, excel at the leg hangs, which can be a confidence boost, Gero said.

"Itís very empowering to be moving in a sensual or strong way and experimenting with how far you can take your body," Gero said.

"It fuels their mojo."

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