The Secret London Guide To Winter Exercise

Ugh, we know. But when you’re stuffing your face with Christmas food at a rooftop pop-up, you’ll be glad you put the effort into your winter exercise programme.

Once summer ends and the days turn cold, it’s hard to envisage exercising or keeping fit. What’s the point of exercise if it’s not cycling between garden parties, or lazily swimming in the Med? Why would you get up for a pre-work run when it’s dark, wet, and windy? Trust us, we sympathise. But winter wellness doesn’t have to mean dragging yourself out of bed and heading to the gym whilst muttering darkly about how duvets are better than dumbbells (duh!). Winter exercise can be – whisper it – fun, particularly if you try one of these on for size…

1. A nice crisp walk

Photo: Tom Page

We’ll start off nice and easy. This one is cheap, simple, and can even be done with a pumpkin spice latte in hand, which is more than you can say for HIIT. Take your choice of scenic routes through London, eyeball the autumn leaves, and maybe bring a buddy along so it feels like socialising rather than exercise.

2. Yoga with a twist

Dust off that mat and break out your best crow pose, because we’re going to yoga! There seems to be a new yoga craze every other week – you may have seen goat yoga, beer yoga, Harry Potter yoga… Basically, pick a word, tack yoga on the end, and it probably exists already. Case in point: Fever are offering tickets to disco yoga. First, you glitter up, then you groove through some poses to the sound of disco classics, and finish with a cocktail. Ultra!

Another 80s/yoga mashup is being offered by House of Voga, who created the marriage of yoga and voguing that you didn’t know you needed. Inspired by Madonna, they’ll add some slick house beats to your routine, so strike a pose, there’s nothing to it. For the more daring amongst you, London is also home to yoga classes that deal with the, erm, bare necessities. We’re talking about naked yoga, which really doesn’t require any further explanation. Try it if you dare!

3. Stay in and go online

Finally, you can put YouTube and social media to more productive use than finding all the cat videos!

No, we don’t mean Netflix and Facebook, you lazy bunch. We’re talking about using social media and the power of the internet to stay active and healthy, which is the perfect antidote to the pesky winter weather. Try following exercise gurus on Instagram and Twitter for useful tips, or just some much-needed motivation.

YouTube has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to workout videos, and the best part is that they’re usually free. FitnessBlender and HASfit are two to follow if you’re looking for everything from beginner practices to a harder workout. Meanwhile, if you didn’t fancy yoga in the nude, Yoga With Adriene is a laid-back channel that’s perfect for home use. So, the only thing left to be seen is if your well-established love of free stuff will trump your laziness? Time to find out…

4. Suck it up and go for a run

We don’t want to. You don’t want to. But sometimes it just has to be done, and the health benefits are well established. Winter is actually the best time of year to go running, because science. According to a Northern Arizona University study, running in the cold can train your body to use oxygen even more efficiently, giving you a whopping 29% increase in speed after a few months. So your PB is just begging to be smashed!

5. How about a bracing winter swim?

Photo: @strictly5446

Whilst London Fields Lido is still beset by delays, there are plenty of other pools to head to for a winter dip. Some of them are even heated! Stay toasty and active out in Charlton Lido, or swim in balmy 28 degree waters at Hampton Pool. For the more stout of heart, Brockwell Lido and Tooting Bec Lido offer year-round swimming without the comfort of a heated pool. Finally, the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park is open to members during the winter, which lets you swim with the wildlife. However, they advise that on some winter days you’ll need to quite literally break the ice before you dive in…

6. A running tour of London’s Christmas lights!

Yes, it’s more running – but this time it’s fun running! To keep fit whilst getting into the Christmas spirit, there’s no better option than The Christmas Running Tour, which will take you on a 5k or 10k run around London’s Christmas lights and markets. Because honestly, is there any better way to take your mind off the run than by checking out the festive illuminations?

You’ll also get a nifty-looking Santa hat, some festive beats to run to, and a guide you lead you round the route and spin some festive tales about London. However, easily the best part is that you can choose your running speed – so speed freaks can choose the fast run, whilst those with a more sedate running style can opt for a gentler run. Ho ho hurry up and get your tickets from Fever!

7. Embrace the cold with some winter sports

Canada and Scandinavia do it without any trouble, so why can’t you? Ice skating in London is about to get a whole lot easier – easier to attend, we mean – given that London’s outdoor ice skating rinks are all about to open. If you’re hankering for a more sedate sport, then the return of London’s favourite rooftop curling rink should whet your appetite nicely.

Photo: @eates21

If you’re looking for more daring winter exercise, you can try ice climbing in the heart of Covent Garden at Vertical Chill. Or to hit the slopes, head out to The Snow Centre. It might commit the cardinal sin of being outside the M25 (boo! hiss!), but it’s just 30 minutes from Euston Station to Apsley, and the closest place to London to try skiing or snowboarding on real snow. Just enough time to get yourself on Ski Sunday and then make a late dash for the Winter Olympics.

Featured image: @plainvalleynordictrails