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Bring your workout indoors this winter with 7 tips from Long Island trainers

Long Island’s late fall and winter weather will make it difficult for people to workout outside. Joe Funaro, co-owner of Fusion MMA and Kickboxing, talks about the steps he is taking to help move his business inside for the winter. Credit: Newsday / John Parkaskevas

It’s a cold reality. Long Island’s late fall and winter weather can turn outdoor workouts into exercises in futility — or at least unpleasantness. Running in snowdrifts or shivering through an outdoor bike ride or circuit training session may give you pause.

That said, moving your workout inside takes consideration, with concerns about COVID-19 still very much present. Exercise is important to overall well-being, so you want to minimize risks and maximize workouts.

Jennifer Hardwicke, 37, who works in IT at Mather Hospital, got a jump on frosty weather and headed inside this month for personal training sessions at her go-to gym, Fusion MMA & Kickboxing in Port Jefferson. Personal training instead of group classes at the gym is one way to reduce exposure to other exercisers.

"I was getting a good workout outside but I wanted something a little tougher," she says. "It’s my therapy." One-on-ones mean her trainer’s attention is exclusively on her and she’s punching, kicking and working up a sweat by herself. Since COVID, there’s been an uptick to about 10% of Fusion members going the one-on-one route. "It’s a significant increase," says owner Joe Funaro, 34. Other gyms have seen similar boosts in this area.

We talked to local trainers and gym owners for tips about transferring outdoor workouts indoors. These tips can help keep you motivated and guide you at home or the gym.

1. Ask questions to make sure your gym has your back: The decision to return to gym workouts is one that can’t be made willy nilly. Ask your gym for details on what they’ve done to maximize your well-being. Standards can vary.

At Farmingdale Fit Body Boot Camp, for instance, session capacity has dropped from 36 persons to 12 persons, masks and COVID tracing surveys are a must per the state mandate, and sanitizing and air filtration protocols have increased.

"We have invested in additional equipment to accommodate train-in-place programming so that our members do not need to share equipment," says owner Steven Briscoe, 28. "What’s in their 8-by-8 square is theirs and they are the only ones who touch it during the sessions."

2. Make a date with your dumbbells or medicine ball — and know why: A key to getting motivated is scheduling a workout like you would any important appointment, says Nick Orlando, 31, co-owner of Gold’s Gym in East Northport. "Put your workout on your calendar," he says. "It shows you take it seriously. When you’re done with the workout, you have a sense of accomplishment."

Orlando’s clients have ranged in age "from 13 to 80," he says. Each has individual fitness goals. "I spend time during the first training session going over what clients want to accomplish," he says. Lose weight? Move more nimbly? "Goals help you chart your progress."

3. Location, location, location: "Pick the room or area in your home where you won’t be distracted," advises Heidi Loiacono, national manager of training and development for GYMGUYZ, which is all about in-home personal training. "Have your exercise equipment already in the room or area you plan to work out in so that you have no excuses."

Having the right music is also key to get your mind, and body, in the zone. "The key is to not allow your surroundings to entice you to relax too soon," says Loiacono.

4. Variety is the spice of … fitness: Doing the exact same workout every time you lace up your sneakers can put you in your comfort zone, but lead to diminishing returns, according to exercise pros. It also gets boring — especially when on a treadmill.

"Variety is key to staying motivated," says Greater Long Island Running Club member and coach Mike Robles, 62, of Smithtown. Instead of doing the same 30-minute treadmill jog each day, spend one on hills, another on speed work and another on a long, steady run. "You’re getting a different workout each time," says Robles who works with recreational and competitive runners. "Factor in recovery days after hard workouts."

Treadmills aren’t the only place to fall into a rut and where ch-ch-ch-changes help. "A way to make an old workout new is through permutations," says Phil Sottile, 46, trainer and owner of Intelligent Fitness East Northport. "If I give you the five exercises to do — barbell curls, pushups, squats, plank and wall sit — I can rearrange up in many ways." How? Change the order. Vary the repetitions. Add cardio between each exercise. And so on. "We focus on exercise that’s mindful," says Sottile. "Variation keeps you on your toes."

5. Exercise like everybody’s watching — and checking on your form: When you’re working out at home, you need to check up on your form to stay efficient and avoid injuries. "A few simple guidelines might be to start with great posture and a balanced feel whether you are on your feet or in a half-kneeling or pushup position," says Frank Dolan, 41, owner of Sports & Fitness Performance in Islip. "Next would be to move in a slow and controlled manner. It also helps to be aware of your breathing which can have many benefits."

If you have the ability to hire a trainer to coach you online or in-person it is important that they are not just a rep counter and cheerleader, adds Dolan. "They should be able to monitor your movements and provide feedback even through a Zoom or FaceTime call."

6. Think multipurpose equipment: You don’t have to have to recreate an entire gym at home. Multipurpose equipment can do the trick. A medicine ball works balance and core strength. Think stretch bands and light and heavy hand weights — 8 and 15 pounders.

"The key is having equipment that you will really use," says Steve Panzik, 45, a physical therapist and owner of Power 10 Fitness in Port Washington. One of his home go-to’s: TRX bands. "You can anchor them over a door and get a full-body workout."

7. Virtual options mean you don’t go it alone at home: For GLIRC coach and longtime athlete Barbara Cronin-Stagnari, 59, who lives in Mineola, workout buddies help keep exercise regimens going. Amid the pandemic, virtual pals are out there. "I do Pilates and yoga on Zoom," says Cronin-Stagnari.

Virtual races, such as the Port Jeff Brewing Company multi distance run wrapping Nov. 15, is another way to be part of a group even when you’re solo.

And at Intelligent Fitness, virtual spins are gaining traction. The facility provides stationary bikes to members, enabling them to pedal along to streaming spin classes. "We have about 50 bikes out in the field across Long Island," says Sottile, adding that it’s an option for when there’s snow on the ground.

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