’TIS THE SEASON FOR BUYING STUFF
TOP 5 MUST-HAVE WINTER-THEMED FITNESS GIFTS
You have to admire Fitness Guru, Matt Linsdell: based in Ottawa, Canada, even temperatures of -20°C won’t stop him going out for a run. He has test driven the five top gifts to keep you (or your loved ones) in shape this winter.
Every year it’s the same problem: what do I get so-and-so for Christmas? If one of your loved ones is an exercise enthusiast, look no further! Matt Linsdell, our Fitness Guru, knows all about the must-haves for active people this winter holiday. If you’re the fit one, why not treat yourself? Go on, you deserve it.
Regular readers will know that I usually write about fitness, personal misadventures, and
my dog (you can normally tell which is which). In the spirit of festivity, here is something a
little different: a list my favourite things that help make my winter here in Canada active, fun,
and safe. Not all of them are specifically for winter activities so you needn’t feel left out, you
Southern-hemispherians. And, because it is gift-giving season, I’ll give you guys some items
to add to your wish list for the big guy upstairs.
(And by upstairs, I mean the North Pole.)
5. A Wrist-Mounted GPS
The price of ‘never-get-lost’ gadgets has plummeted since I got my first one in 2006. If you are not familiar with what a wrist-mounted GPS is, it’s basically a large watch that uses satellites to pinpoint your position on the Earth and then tracks your movements across it. It records speed and distance in km/h or mph, and elevation in metres or feet. It’s a bit like a car navigation GPS but it won’t give you road directions, and some models record your heart rate. I much prefer these wrist units to any smartphone or handheld GPS because you can use them regardless of what you are doing – be it cycling, running, kayaking, or horseback riding (or sitting
in the bar? - Ed). Whether you’re running to keep in shape or you’re preparing for an upcoming race, a portable GPS should give you extra motivation. It doesn’t have to be for serious athletes either; I have a friend who tracks her daily dog walks and uses a GPS device to add up all the distances each week. Some models have a wireless upload feature that automatically syncs with your computer when you return home, allowing you to view your adventure on a Google Map-type interface. So why not give it a try? You can always return it to the store and use the money to buy a box of frozen burritos instead.
4. Running Snowshoes
Tripping and falling in snow is something I have done way too many times. Sometimes I have performed some rather spectacular – and embarrassing – wipe-outs. If someone had caught one on a phone camera then I’m sure it would have made for hilarious footage. I have been lucky so far, but this was before I discovered running snowshoes. Everyone knows what snowshoes are: big flat tennis rackets you wear on the bottom of your boots to increase the surface area so that you don’t fall through the snow. But what you might not realise is that there are smaller, more streamlined versions designed for those of us who like to run on snowy trails. Running snowshoes are narrow metal frames with a fabric ‘deck’ that slips over your preferred winter footwear. Snowshoes usually have fairly large ‘teeth’ on the bottom that give you good grip on slippery surfaces and inclines. I love running snowshoes because they can help keep you aerobically fit without the fear of someone seeing you fall on your butt… and then suffering the indignity of your mishap going viral on YouTube.
3. Fleece-Lined Gloves
With the exception of frostbite to the private parts, there are few things worse in winter than freezing cold hands. I am one of those people who often has cold hands, so a good pair of gloves is something I’ve come to appreciate. We all know that when we exercise, we produce heat. Depending on the type of exercise you are doing and what the weather is like, it is good to wear a pair of suitable gloves. Running tends to generate massive amounts of heat, so your hands warm up quickly and may even start to sweat. It’s normally OK to wear a normal fleece glove. But you should always try to get a glove that ‘wicks’ the moisture outwards (which is actually capillary action) – many fleece gloves do this, but check first. A wicking glove will keep your hands dry and comfortable. When I’m on my bike, it’s a whole different story. The wind chill factor makes it necessary to use a glove with a wind-proof layer. And when it is really cold, I prefer mitts because they have the thickest fabric and keep the most warmth in. So whatever you do, remember to take care of all your extremities – not just your hands. No one wants to get frostbite.
2.5. Adult Diapers
These are great to slip on under your snowsuit before a long day of downhill skiing or snowboarding. They keep you on the hill longer and make chairlift breakdowns less anxiety-producing. This is obviously a joke. I’m just keeping you all on your toes...
2. Ice Spikes for your Bike Tyres
I like to ride my bike all year round. In fact, I try to cycle to work every day. This isn’t as crazy as it might seem: the right equipment can make cycling in winter safer than driving. Success in winter cycling starts where the rubber meets the road… literally. Ice spike tyres/tires can cost more than any high-end bike tyre, but the investment is worth it. Two tanks of gas will easily pay for a pair that should last you an entire winter or more. Things to look for in a good ice tyre are spikes that are made of a carbide metal material (a super hard substance that is used to make armour-piercing shells). If they aren’t made of carbide metal, then don’t expect them to last more than a couple of months. If you pay more, you can go for tyres with more spikes (which I always do). The grip is so good that you can cycle across a freshly polished skating rink and slam on your brakes with no slippage.
1. Noise-Cancelling Headphones
My girlfriend, my neighbours, and anyone who knows me will think it strange if I’m not wearing large headphones at all times – except when I’m cycling or driving a car. I can’t live without my noise-cancelling headphones. There are a couple of reasons why: Now being in my 30s, I fear for my eardrums: noisecancelling earphones let me have clear music without cranking up the volume. Also, they completely envelope my ears, keeping frostbite away. On very cold days, a windproof hood over the earphones provides more than enough insulation to keep me warm and rockin’ out (or listening to the latest Guru
podcast episode – Ed). I’ve walked the dog at minus 30 °C with my earphones and a hood and not had to worry about my ears needing amputation. So that’s it. The rest is up to you. Don’t get stuck on a treadmill this winter: get outside and breathe deep in the cold air. You will feel invigorated. And when spring hits, you’ll be beach-body ready.