Beating the winter blues

Even though the weather outside can be frightful, fitness goals and workouts should not go by the wayside. If outdoor activity is hard to find or something a person doesn’t like, there is plenty to do indoors.

Local gyms, such as Chautauqua Health and Fitness and Darwin’s Health Club, offer a range of cardio equipment, free weights, machines and a wide range of classes. Chautauqua Health and Fitness offers many back-to-back classes so members can plan workouts around classes. Both gyms offer equipment for all levels of fitness.

For those who still want to exercise outside, running in the winter months is drastically different from running in warmer weather. Catt Pratt, manager at Darwin’s Health Club, suggests wearing the proper footwear and clothing. Trail shoes, winterized running shoes or even adding track spikes to shoes are helpful when running in snow and icy conditions. Pratt also suggests runners wear wool socks, never cotton, during a run. Runners should also wear loose layers allowing air to circulate and be aware of the elements.

To prevent chapping and chafing, Pratt suggests using Vaseline on lips and around the nose.

Staying warm after a run is just as important as being warm during exercising. Chautauqua Health and Fitness Manager Greg Craft said once a run is completed, it is important to come inside.

“When you get done running, you want to make sure you don’t stay outside until you cool down. You want to get inside right away. It’s the sweat that you build up while you’re running and evaporates…,” he said. “It’s being a hot body walking right into the cold weather. I always tell people who run outside, go right inside afterward.”

Trying to find motivation in the winter can be hard when the weather outside is dreary. Pratt suggests individuals try to make a habit of working out. If a person wants to work out, she suggests taking clothes and workout gear with them and go to the gym on the way to work or on the way home.

“A lot of times what I find is, (go to the gym) on your way to work or on your way home from work and don’t let yourself stop at home. Once you get (home) and you’re all cozied in, you’re not going to want to leave. As soon as you create a habit, you will be more likely to stick with it,” Pratt said.

A weekly workout plan can provide motivation, even during the worse snow storms. Craft said no one should risk personal safety to work out but if the sun is not shining, a plan can be great motivation. He said he sees many people who come to the gym with no plan and they only do half of a workout because they don’t have that plan or are unsure of what to do.

“Always have a plan and plan out your workouts,” said Craft. “Figure out what you’re going to work out each day. Don’t just come to the gym, or decide that you’re going to go for a run outside and not decide how far you’re going to go. If you have a plan and you know what you want to accomplish, it is a lot easier to do that. You won’t trail off from those plans.”

He said with a plan it’s easier to motivate yourself earlier in the week once it’s written down compared to starting one midway through the week. Like Pratt, Craft said to stick to a routine and not make excuses for not going to the gym. He said positive actions create further positive action while negative actions tend to snowball. If someone skips the gym the first or second day of their plan, it will be really hard to go later on in the week.

“It’s easy to sit here and say to yourself ‘I’m not feeling it today. I’ll put it off tomorrow.’ … It’s easy to find an excuse not to do it but you always feel better after you do it,” said Craft. “Once you get (a workout) done no one has ever left the gym and said to themselves ‘I regret coming here.'”

For those who do not have a current gym membership and do not want to join a gym, there are activities that are free or available at minimal cost throughout the community. Residents can take advantage of indoor ice skating at SUNY Fredonia. On campus, ice skating is offered at Dods Hall from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, with some exceptions. Adults can skate for $4 while children skate for $3. Residents are encouraged to bring their own skates but skate rentals are available for $4. If skates are dull, skate sharpening is available at the cost of $5.

Ice skating will be offered until Sunday, March 23. Dates for ice skating vary based on hockey commitments. Check the daily campus schedule at for times and dates.

For those who are missing summer, SUNY Fredonia also offers open swim at the Steele Hall Natatorium. Open swim is free and lockers can be rented for a small fee. Open swim is 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and 8-10 p.m. Monday through Friday. Starting Jan. 27, following the resumption of classes, hours for open swim will change to 7 to 8:45 a.m. and 8-10 p.m. Monday through Friday. Additional hours on the weekend will be added from 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Hours are subject to change due to swimming commitments. Check availability online on the school’s calendar.

“At Fredonia, we embrace the chance to share our facilities with the greater community whenever practical and appropriate,” said Public Relations Director Mike Barone. “Just as we welcome the public to use Reed Library, dine at Starbucks or Tim Horton’s, hear guest speakers, attend athletic, musical and theatrical events, visit our art gallery, or simply walk, jog or bike around our 250-acre campus, this is yet another way that we can improve the quality of life for the many residents of Chautauqua County and western New York.”

For those who still want to escape the cold and winter and feel like they are in a tropical oasis, The Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Dunkirk offers use of their sauna, jacuzzi and pool, in addition to their fitness center, for members. For more information on becoming a member, call the hotel at 366-8350.

Other indoor activities in the community include walking at Eason Hall, 23 Elm St., in Westfield when the hall is not in use. Pilates is also offered at Eason Hall on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8-9 a.m. Adult co-ed volleyball, available Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m., will be held in the Westfield school gym.

The Dunkirk Recreation League also offers activities this winter through March, including pickup floor hockey and dodge ball. Co-ed floor hockey runs on Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon, co-ed adult soccer Mondays from 7 to 10 p.m. and co-ed dodge ball Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. All sports are $3 per session. Walkers can utilize the space from 7:30 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Cost for walking is $1. For more information on these programs, call 366-9886. All programs are held at the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds.

Dunkirk High School offers swimming programs for city residents. Morning swim runs through Feb. 13 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Evening swim is Mondays and Wednesdays through Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. Both evening and morning swim are $2 per session. The district also offers deep water aquasize on Jan. 23, 28 and Feb. 4, 6, 11 and 13 starting at 6:30 p.m. and on Jan. 21 and 30 with a start time of 7:30 p.m. Each session is $4.

Whether swimming, enjoying a fitness class, working out at a fitness center or playing dodge ball, staying active is important. Pratt said even exercising for a few minutes is better than not exercising at all.

“My big motto is, any exercise is better than no exercise. Even if it’s five minutes it’s better than zero minutes,” Pratt said.

Comments on this article may be sent to