It getting dark earlier and earlier. And colder. Not really as cold as it should be considering I typically hate life by the end of October. But despite this weekend being nice and warm, climbing Crystal Wall was really just an exercise in not letting yourself freak out on lead when you can’t feel your fingers on the wall. Certainly a new kind of challenge. But fun? Not so much.
I know all you want is to wallow in post-summer depression and make yourself feel better by going home and stuffing your face with squash covered in sugar and butter. Keep telling yourself it still counts as a vegetable…. Or mac and cheese. With bacon. Mmmmmmm……
But it’s good to change up the pace. And so here are some ideas to help you cope with the lack of sunshine and not become lazy and full of self-loathing this Winter.
It’s great for you, it can be aerobic (look at vinyasa classes), it can be strength intensive (look at Ashtanga or Iyengar style classes), it can satisfy your need to be completely and totally warm (look at bikram). Fort Collins has great yoga. I am super bummed out that there is no longer a Bikram studio downtown (and even more upset that it was replaced by some wine and painting studio where cackling ladies out for girls night will be guzzling wine and making bad copies of expressionist art).
But I digress. You could basically keep yourself doing yoga for free all Winter just by bouncing around from free week here to free trial there, if you wanted. But here is a short list of the studios downtown. I’ll be reviewing them throughout the Winter to give you an idea of what to expect. Because there are a lot of styles of yoga and a lot of variance between skill and difficulty level- all of which are nice things to know before you end up trapped for an hour. I’ll get around to the ones on the south end of town eventually, cause there are some great studios out there, too.
Old Town Yoga
Fort Collins Yoga Co-op
Old Town Athletic Club
Call first, do not trust the interwebz. I just checked and there is a lot of outdated info out there. Bikram is gone, Treetop is now Om Ananda, and Breathe is now Elan (my awesome sponsor =]).
#2 Mixed Martial Arts
So I recently was badgered into going to an MMA class at Sykes Family Martial Arts with a couple friends who insisted that I would love it. I was really reluctant because I kinda expected it to be full of kids running around. Kids who are scarier that regular kids because they can put me into a wrist lock. It seemed intimidating. Also, I vaguely associate mixed martial arts with some of the more excruciating scenes from Napoleon Dynamite.
But what I found when I got there was that there are lots of adults in their adult open classes, everyone is very friendly and genuinely wants you to be there and to learn. In these classes, you will learn real skills. Classes are run by Sykes (below center), who is a ball of energy. Very motivating, positive energy. Lessons center around real-life self-defense. From watching the kid’s class before adult open, I know that he switches easily between using real life examples and coaching that make sense to kids to ones that make sense for adults. Everyone covers things like when to use warnings, what kind of techniques are appropriate for various situations.
It’s very much a friendly learning environment, which is not to say that they don’t also train amazing martial arts masters there. To give you some idea, there are two teenage sisters (seen above) who will typically help run class. They are black belts. They were belted by a grandmaster. Actually there were apparently several in attendance that day. They were belted on the spot after a short demonstration of their skills.
I only worked with one of them, but she is just an adorable little bad-ass and a lot of fun in class. and I LOVE the fact that this 14-year-old girl routinely drops my ex-boyfriend on his face. Totally lays him out. On the floor. LOVE it. (actually we’re good friends and he invited me to come along, also no one gets hurt in class, but it’s still fun to tell people).
Have I tried out a bunch of MMA studios in town? No. But if I ever go back, this is where you will find me. I really think that if you go here and find that you don’t get really excited about jiujitsu and genuinely like everyone you run into, there is probably something wrong with you and maybe you should go back and start your Winter with item #1: take some yoga and meditate on why you are a jerk.
They have trial classes, so don’t be afraid to just show up.
#3 Get a Certification
SCUBA/Rescue Diver/Master Diver. You can learn all these things in the funny little house on the corner of Prospect and Shields which is Alpine Scuba.
Yoga teacher training- Have I said yoga enough yet? Becoming a teacher will give you something to do and then a whole lot more. There are some pretty intensive classes available from beginning teaching to intermediate teacher training. Some places will do training in exchange for you teaching classes.
Search and Rescue Certification. It starts in February for Colorado. Here is the course description. You can also take courses through Rocky Mountain Trackers and some of what you will learn will transfer over to other SAR course work or hours. Here is the Colorado SAR page.
United Way Board of Directors Training will teach you how to be in a leadership role on a non-profit board.
United Way also releases a “Wish List” in the winter that details work that local non-profits have need done. Knit potholders for eldercare. Do something useful; don’t ask to serve turkeys and give poor kids presents- it’s what everyone else wants to do too, and cleaning up, or doing some long-neglected administrative work will be a lot more impactful.
Massage, reiki, acupuncture, reflexology. Any kind of alternative medicine. You can’t finish these this winter, but you sure can start.
#4 Work a Training Program
Get to the gym and make sure you don’t lose strength and endurance. Look at this as an OPPORTUNITY to focus on cross-training or specializing in your sport. Don’t half ass it. Buy a book, see someone who can create a plan for you, and keep yourself really excited about tearing it up this coming Spring so you can stay motivated. Go to spin class, start doing some weights. Find a buddy to work out with. Craigslist ain’t just for creepers. I found my favorite roomie on there.
#5 Suck it Up and Go Outside, You Live in Colorado
Start by getting pumped up watching ski movies. They are playing at the Aggie through out the Winter, check for the next one.
Then download the soundtrack and move on to snowshoeing. There are some great places just a couple hours away, Cameron Pass, for example, that are a lot of fun. Lake Agnes, American Lakes are just two.
If you hate the traffic and everything else that comes with resort skiing, you can go skiing at Snowy Ridge in Wyoming. Its a resort, but never crowded, plenty of beginner slopes and 2 hours door to ski-lift.
Keep running all Winter by buying the gnarliest pair of trail running shoes the internet has to offer. Like these:
And volunteer to run shelter dogs to keep yourself accountable.
Backcountry ski. Just choose a place that is very unlikely to have avalanches. Montgomery Bowls at Cameron Pass is popular and probably as safe as it gets. Berthoud pass is popular as well (though I’ve never been there). I am told a good rule of thumb is the the safest terrain is below 30 degree slope angles. Buy a beacon and learn how to use it anyway. And make sure it’s on.
Ice climb. Actually, that sounds terrifying. Maybe choose something that doesn’t involve axes to start.