Healthy Life, Happy Life
It’s easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle during the winter. The cold weather makes the great outdoors less inviting, and you may feel that all you want to do is cuddle up on the couch after work. However, keeping active during the winter is important for your mental and physical health. If exercise has been sporadic so far this winter, now is a great time to reset! Figure out a form of exercise that you enjoy, and that will be achievable for you to keep up with through rest of the winter.
Need some fresh ideas? The Front Royal area has some great options for indoor and winter-friendly activities that will get you up and moving. Read on for tips for staying active through the winter in Front Royal.
1. Join a Gym
With unpredictable weather conditions making it difficult to maintain an outdoor exercise routine, winter is a good time to join a gym. Going to a fresh new place to work out can help with motivation. So can working with a trainer, or signing up for an exercise class. Paying a gym membership gives you an additional motivational boost. If you’re money’s going towards your membership every month, you’re more likely to get out the door and use it.
You’ll find several fitness gyms in Front Royal. If you’re interested in CrossFit, try Battlegrounds Fitness or Rugged Terrain CrossFit. Both are conveniently located right in Front Royal, and offer the camaraderie and exceptional training that have made CrossFit popular across America.
Fitness Evolution and Anytime Fitness are traditional gyms with a range of standard gym equipment. Classes and individual training are available at both.
If you can’t fit in frequent trips to the gym, a membership could still be a good fit. Front Royal’s gyms offer virtual training. On the days you can’t make it to the gym, you can have the convenience of working out at home with the accountability and expertise of a professional coach. The best of both worlds!
2. Play an Indoor Sport
Some people find that working out is just . . . too boring! If playing a sport is more up your alley, winter can be a great time to explore indoor sports. Front Royal’s Dominion Health & Fitness Center is worth checking out. In addition to standard gym facilities, the center has an indoor pool, racquetball, and indoor tennis courts, as well as wallyball and basketball. Get involved in a sport you can play all year round!
3. Add Exercise into Your Normal Routine
If you’re not interested in structured gym workouts or sports, it’s still important to make some exercise a part of your life. For winter exercise success, look for ways to weave exercise into your normal activities. For example, when shopping, you might park at the far end of the parking lot. This article has some great tips for incorporating more exercise – even if you don’t have much time and money to dedicate to it.
One advantage of a small town like Front Royal is that many stores and restaurants are within walking distance of each other, especially in the historic downtown area. Next time you’re planning to run errands, see if you can’t figure out a route that minimizes driving, and increases walking. Getting outside and moving, even for a short time, can improve your health and your mood! In inclement weather, even walking around an indoor location such as a grocery store can be helpful.
4. Calm Your Mind and Improve Your Health - Try Yoga
"Functional Yoga can improve your daily life" - Wildfire Yoga. You can become calm, centered, and rejuvenated with yoga. Don't worry if you've never tried it, it's good for all levels of fitness and ages. It can improve your balance, flexibility, and strength. This practice can also improve pain levels among seniors, menopausal symptoms and more! The increase in energy and relaxation might be just what you need after a stressful 2020.
Wildfire Yoga offers in studio classes, private lessons, and online classes.
5. Reward yourself!
For some of us, the enjoyment that we get from exercising combined with the health benefits, is enough of an incentive to keep us going through a long winter. For others, getting motivated in winter is just . . . hard. If you fall into this second category, why not give yourself some kind of a reward to help make it through those tough days.
Set your own standards to challenge yourself and enjoy a sense of accomplishment. For example, you could treat yourself to a coffee on Main Street on Fridays if you have completed three workouts during the week. Or promise yourself a fun movie night at home if you’ve met your exercise goals.
For home bakers, consider patting yourself on the back by trying out a recipe for a healthy treat. You can indulge a little bit without undoing all of your hard work! Front Royal’s own Rugged Terrain Crossfit has a page with recipe ideas that you can enjoy without bringing on a sugar crash!
With the holidays over, and long winter months ahead, it’s easy to hit a slump in January. But the New Year can also be a great time for setting goals and establishing healthy habits. Try out one of these ideas for keeping active this winter. Your body (and your mood!) will thank you!
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. If you’ve only heard them mentioned once or twice, you’re not alone. And yet these underappreciated snow sports deserve a lot more popularity. Their famous cousins, skiing and snowboarding, tend to steal the spotlight. But both essentially require travel to expensive resorts, and demand a reasonably high level of physical fitness. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are much more widely accessible. If you like to hike (or even walk!), and live in an area where there’s snow, chances are you’ll be able to enjoy one or the other with only minimal upfront investment.
A snowy day in the Front Royal area is a great setting for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Whether you’re new to these snow sports, or an old hand, we’ll hope you’ll adventure out this winter and enjoy them. Read on for more information about these sports, as well as some suggestions of where to go in the Front Royal area.
Snowshoeing – the Basics
Snowshoeing can be as simple as hiking in the snow . . . but using specially designed snowshoes to make your life easier. Snowshoes work by providing a wider base for your feet than normal shoes. With your weight distributed over the wider area of the snowshoe, you can walk on top of the snow, without your feet sinking fully into it.
It’s possible to take a deep dive into various specialized techniques for snowshoeing. However, it really can be as simple as slipping snowshoes over your boots and taking a walk (in snow, of course!). “If you can walk, you can snowshoe” is a common mantra among snowshoeing enthusiasts. Snowshoeing is a great way to continue to enjoy your favorite hiking trails through the winter months. To get started, simply buy or rent a pair of snowshoes and head out. Poles are also worth considering if you plan to tackle steep slopes or tricky terrain.
Cross-country skiing is both more expensive and more challenging than snowshoeing. Nevertheless, it’s still more accessible than downhill skiing. It’s a great sport to try if you’re looking for a bit more excitement than snowshoeing.
Cross-country skiing involves a pair of skies similar to those used for downhill skiing. Poles are also essential. Cross-country skis allow the skier to traverse flat and even uphill terrain in addition to downhill runs. Because of the speed involved, downhill slopes are the most challenging to navigate in cross-country skiing, and should be approached with caution.
To get started cross-country skiing, it’s helpful to do some research into techniques. Check out videos such as this one, which give beginners a good introduction to the sport. You can also possible to look into instruction and guided trips, but since you can take cross-country skiing at your own pace, it’s also possible to try it out on your own.
Locations for Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing in the Front Royal Area
With snowshoeing’s similarities to hiking, it is possible to snowshoe on many of the great hiking trails around Front Royal. In fact, there are so many beautiful places to hike around Front Royal, that it’s a great place to give snowshoeing a try. When Skyline Drive is closed to traffic because of snowy conditions, remember you can access the park on foot from any boundary access point.
To find a great cross-country skiing trail, you’ll need to be a little more selective. You’ll want to find smooth trails, with gentle slopes. However, there’s still plenty to enjoy in the Front Royal area. Check out some of the trails in Sky Meadows State Park where the terrain is less mountainous. In Shenandoah National Park, the Limberlost Trail is a top pick for beginner cross-country skiers. The Big Meadows area is another part of the park that is particularly popular, with its gentle slopes and open fields. Finally, the iconic Skyline Drive itself might be an option. Before the road is plowed after a snowfall, while it’s still closed to traffic, it can provide an ideal surface for cross-country skiing, complete with stunning views and overlooks. Of course, you’ll need to keep a close eye out for the snowplow if you take this option. It’s also suggested that skiers access Skyline Drive at the Thornton Gap entrance station, rather than in Front Royal. A long, steep climb is the first thing you face after the Front Royal entrance station.
Though they are accessible to a wide variety of people, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing do involve some risk. As with any sport, especially those involving snowy and icy conditions, it is possible to suffer serious injury while snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Don’t be discouraged from giving these sports a try, but remember that it is important to exercise caution and stay within your limits. Ideally, you should bring a buddy if you are heading out onto the trails. At least be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. If you feel uncertain about your proficiency, it is much better to obtain professional training than to risk injury.
Don’t let the fantastic hiking trails in the Front Royal area lie silent and unused this winter.
A snowfall in the Front Royal area is a great opportunity to get out and give one of these snow sports a try. It’s not too hard to get started, and you may discover a new favorite way to exercise in the winter.
January has a reputation for being depressing. The fun and excitement of the holiday season is over. But the weather outside is still frightful! With cold dark days, and two more months (at least) of winter stretching out ahead, it’s not surprising that many people feel down in the dumps in January.
The good news is that the scenic beauty of the Shenandoah Valley is still there, and winter is a great time of year to enjoy it. The cold weather has chased away the crowds, so those bold enough to venture out will be rewarded with quiet and seclusion, and maybe even some rare wildlife sightings. The feeling of snow crunching under your boots. The barren splendor of the winter hillsides. The tingling of crisp cold air against your cheeks. The breathtaking beauty of icicle formations. All of these await you on a winter’s day in the Shenandoah Valley.
So fight off those January blues by getting outside for a winter hike. You’ll find there’s still plenty to enjoy about the great outdoors, even in mid-winter. And your cozy fireside chair never felt quite as good as when you sank into it after an adventure in the open air.
Read on for four top tips to help make your winter hike enjoyable.
1. Play it Safe
Winter hiking is fun, but with cold temperatures and early nightfall to contend with, it isn’t risk-free. Careful planning is important to ensure that you don’t find yourself lost in the woods after dark. Make sure you know where you’ll be hiking, and stay on clearly marked trails. It’s a good idea to bring an emergency blanket in case of injury, as well as to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. See here for more winter hiking safety tips from the Shenandoah National Park.
2. Water isn’t just for summer!
You don’t have to contend with the heat of summer, but winter hiking is still physical activity, and you’ll still get thirsty. Be sure to pack plenty of water, as well as some energizing snacks.
3. Stay within Your Comfort Zone
Hiking in winter may be more difficult and time-consuming than you expect, even if you’re an experienced hiker. In particular, snow and ice on the trail can slow you down. And remember the weather is colder at higher elevations, so you may run into ice on your hike, even if you didn’t see any at home. Steep slopes, in particular, can be extra difficult in winter weather conditions.
With these considerations, it’s a good idea to pick a hike that is well within your physical limitations. Use park signage and trail descriptions to choose a hike that will be safe and enjoyable for you.
For easier hike ideas, check out this Trail Guide from the Shenandoah River State Park, or try out the Charcoal Trail or Pig Iron Trail in the George Washington National Forest. See here for a list of trails in the Shenandoah National Park, starting with the ones closest to Front Royal. Be sure to check the difficulty level of the hike you plan to attempt.
The dead of winter is not a good time to challenge yourself with a new hike that you’ve never attempted or to tackle the bare rock face you’ve been dreaming about. Keep it doable and save yourself frustration and possible injury.
4. Wrap up!
In Scandinavia, they say “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” Being properly dressed for winter weather can make the difference between an enjoyable hike and a miserable tramp through the woods.
Waterproof shoes and thick socks are a must. Dress in layers, and bring more than you think you’ll need. It’s easier to take something off than put on the coat you left at home!
Need some extra gear? A visit to Front Royal’s Mountain Trails should have you covered. Here you’ll find a full range of casual clothing and technical outdoor equipment.
Going on a hike might not be the first activity you think of for a January day. But with the proper research and preparations, you’ll find that winter hiking is a great pursuit that can be fun for all the family. And when you come in from the cold, don’t forget to stop by one of Front Royal’s eateries to warm up with a cozy drink or dinner.
In winter, a cozy fireplace can become the beating heart of your home. It’s a place the family can gather to bask in the warm glow of the fire. If you’re stuck at home this winter, try dedicating some screen-free evenings to spending time by the fire as a family. We’ve rounded up some innovative ideas for fireside activities. Even if you’ve been enjoying your fireplace for years, read on! You may discover a new way to relax by the fire on a winter’s evening.
1. Cook on the fire – it’s not just for summer!
You may have spent many evenings by your fire, but have you ever thought of making dinner on it? Just like a campfire, the fire in your hearth can be used for cooking. Gather around the fireplace on a winter’s night for a fun dinner that will remind you of those summer campfire cookouts. For some ideas to get you started, see here and here. Bonus: cooking as a family in the living room gives mom a break!
If you’re not in the mood for cooking a full dinner, you can still enjoy your fireplace and some delicious fire-roasted snacks or deserts. S’mores can be made indoors, just as they can on an outdoor campfire. Or for a Christmassy option that will remind you of a popular song, try some chestnuts “roasted on an open fire.” Make sure you have butter and cinnamon ready to dip them in! Baked apples are another great option for a fun and easy fireside desert.
2. Enjoy the Mood Lighting!
If you can turn off the lights while you’re gathered around the fire, you’ll notice how quickly the mood changes. Distractions melt away, and stresses seem to disappear, as the warmth and light of the fire comfort body and spirit. Skeptical . . . just give it a try one night: we promise, you’ll love it. Bonus points if you have Christmas lights up at the same time.
3. Have a Fireside Chat
There’s something about sitting by a fire together that can get people to open up and engage in great conversations that would not happen so easily otherwise. Need some help getting a conversation going? Consider keeping a pack of “conversation starter” cards near the fire. You never know, you might learn something you never knew before about a family member or guest.
4. Try a Fireside Game
There’s nothing like a family game night for involving everyone in some fun. Do it around the fire, and you’ll find it’s an unbeatable combination. If you’re going to play a family game around the fire, it’s ideal if it doesn’t involve too much moving around, and doesn’t require bright lighting. You’ll find some ideas here.
5. Read a Story Together
When the whole family is gathered around the fire is a great time to crack open a book and start reading aloud. If you can find a collection of short stories, that’s a great place to start. They’re short enough that you can get through a whole story – or two – in an evening. The short stories of Edgar Allan Poe will give your family a lot to think and talk about. They’re not a great option for younger audiences though. Or dig through a second hand bookstore, such as Front Royal’s own Royal Oak Bookshop and see what treasures you can find for yourself.
When the weather outside is frightful, the fire can be delightful. Take the time to enjoy your fire and your family this winter. Here’s to memories made around the fireside that will last a lifetime.
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