Trainer gives tips for winter fitness

Published 9:11 am Monday, October 22, 2012

Joe Tscholl of Albert Lea’s Snap Fitness said having a structure for workouts can help with motivation. -- Matt Peterson/Albert Lea Tribune

Winter in Minnesota is quickly approaching. So other than by splitting wood or reenacting the training scene from “Rocky IV,” how is anyone in this forsaken region going to stay in shape?

Here is how: Ask Joe Tscholl from Snap Fitness in Albert Lea. He may not carry an ax, but he does have some ideas.

For many, the time to get into a routine should have already started. Vacations and busy holiday schedules can interfere with workouts, so it’s smart to have a routine to return to after the busy times pass. But first, one has to take the initiative to work out. Want it.

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“It’s pretty much making the commitment,” Tscholl said, and added some people will work out for two days and quit for two months. That can’t happen.

People need to find motivation. That could mean finding a partner, a personal trainer or something that is enjoyable and fulfilling.

Once people find that motivation, somewhere far away from their layers of blankets and wood stoves, they need structure, Tscholl says. He focuses basic principles that always accompany good fitness. Three key points, he said, remain important: eating habits, drinking habits (water versus soda or alcohol, etc.) and the amount of exercise.

“These three things are really key to losing weight or maintaining your fitness goals,” he said.

After that, Tscholl sees more structure.

“Have something written; have a schedule,” he said.

Instead of wondering when to work out and what exercises to do for the day, having a plan can ease some of the complacency to work out. There are no worries; just get into the gym and go. For those who are just getting into fitness or returning from a hiatus, that could mean just 15 minutes of weight training and 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per workout, three times a week.

Regardless of fitness level or experience, however, Tscholl always recommends a combination of weight training and cardio. The intervals increase for those who are in better shape. Furthermore, push yourself. To truly get a cardio workout, that means more than just walking. Try putting the treadmill on an incline, Tscholl said. Push hard for several intervals.

“With your cardio, you need to make sure you get your heart rate up,” Tscholl said.

And there’s more — remember to work you core.

For every level of exerciser, Tscholl recommends abdominal workouts. For experienced athletes, that could mean as many as 200 repetitions of ab exercises per day.


Once again, plan ahead

So, you’ve got your workout plan and are ready to hit the gym on a consistent basis. That’s great, but you aren’t the only one heading to the local club this holiday season — not by a longshot.

“Keep in mind, you are coming into the club at its busiest time,” Tscholl said, and added 4 to 7 p.m. seems to be rush hour.

“That’s their prime time,” Tscholl added about every health club during the winter. “It’s going to double [in capacity].”

For some, that may make motivation and scheduling even harder. It could mean working out early in the morning or late at night. To Tscholl, it doesn’t really matter what time people get their workouts in, as long as they do them.


Keep it interesting

“You want to make sure it’s fun,” Tscholl said. “Mix it up.”

That 15-minute weightlifting and 20-minute cardio session don’t have to be the same every time. Try running in the pool. Try 10 minutes on a stair climber and 10 minutes on an exercise bike. Running may not be for everyone. Furthermore, the gym may not be for everyone.

Grab a pair of cross country skis and take advantage of the outdoors, as treacherous as they may become.

Tscholl said cross country skiing is excellent, as it works the upper and lower body and provides a good cardio blast. And there are always trails to discover. Snowshoeing and hiking may work, too. Perhaps some may want to grab their flannel and ax after all.

Some people hit a wall by doing the same workouts all the time. However, some can make progress with the same routine all the time, too, Tscholl said. It’s all up to the individual. Regardless, that means setting goals. With enough time and dedication, anyone can discover what works for him or herself.