Training in the off-season has to be my most hated time of the year. Actually, let’s rephrase that: winter is my most hated time of the year and I know I’m not alone on this one. The off-season is when most people derail off their well-intended exercise goals. The most interesting and progressive regimes don’t stand a chance against the winter chill.
When I used to be a club manager and aerobics instructor at multiple gyms, we had the lowest gym membership sales, had the highest amount of membership cancellations, and aerobics class numbers would dwindle down to the most enthusiastic, psychotic gym freaks. I say that in the nicest possible way… they were my most favourite clients. A part of the gym decor, they were always there- rain, hail or shine.
I used to sit on my spin bike at 7am on a Sunday morning in front of my class, red eyed, yawning, frozen to the core and ask them “WHY ARE YOU HERE??”… I know where I would have rather been, snuggled up in bed, in the warmth. If it wasn’t for the money and my obsession with working out, I’d high tail it out of there in an instant.
Trust me I know it sucks, and sucks even more when you pre-pay for swim coaching sessions at 8pm in an outdoor pool in the middle of winter.
All this is done for a reason though. The most important part of your training happens in the offseason. You don’t get faster at running, swimming or cycling over night. It takes months to build up fitness, so you can perform in the aerobic zone. The biggest mistake people make is to stop training in winter.
Bikini bodies are made in the winter off-season, not 8 weeks leading into summer like some weight loss programs promote. You can’t build six-pack abs and huge biceps in only 8 weeks, it takes months worth of training to build muscle to get that chiseled look.
Not to mention, if you stop exercising, the biggest hurdle will be to start again. Rebuilding your fitness level, getting back into routine. A lot of people fail right there. It’s like when you’re running long distances, it’s easier to keep running, than to stop and walk and try running again. Once you start walking, you won’t want to run again and it will feel more painful.
Runner’s logic… go figure…
Training in the off season will also prevent any more insulation (body fat) accumulating from comfort foods and mugs of hot chocolate. Stodgy winter food needs to be burnt off with regular exercise. Exercise keeps your body healthy all year round. It’s a no brainer, don’t quit the gym or training, no matter how crappy it is outside. You will lift heavier and run faster than all those people who took time off over winter. Your performance and gains will be two fold.
My method to staying on track in the off-season is keeping to routine: Tuesday/Thursday is swim night, Monday/Wednesday is run night and cycle every day indoors on the power trainer. I don’t think about it, I stick to routine no matter what. I just get in the car, turn up to training and do what I am told. Then complain to the coach once it’s over and look forward to dinner! lol
Like a mouse on a running wheel, just get it done. You will thank yourself later, when the weather warms up and you start seeing performance results. You can wave good-bye to all those people who stopped and restarted their training in the off-season, when you run past them not even breaking a sweat. Happy training!