Winter is not the time to hibernate from the gym. It’s a chance to try new classes, sign up for a winter event to keep you motivated or work on your strength in the AUT Millennium Gym. Just make sure you start with extra layers on! One of the most important factors, whatever your exercise priorities for winter are, is that you stay healthy. Surviving winter injuries can be a challenge, so here’s a few helpful tips to set you up for success.


I used to show up to winter sessions looking like a snowman ready for battle. I intentionally wanted to be snug in my warm up to avoid wasting my body’s energy trying to de-frost. Having extra layers on becomes critical if you are heading outside. It’s easy to whip on an extra layer to take the chill off. A good warm up is hugely important to get your blood flowing before you attack more vigorous tasks.

Eat well.

Building immunity through your food choices is an easy way of helping you in the fight against the winter cold. Good nutrition will aid you in your recovery post workout, so keep eating the good stuff (just warm it up!). I eat a lot of green kiwifruit in winter because they have incredible amounts of Vitamin C in them. I also add extra ginger and garlic to meals for more winter protection. Try to eat what’s in season to avoid hurting your wallet.

Head and feet protection.

You lose a high percentage of your body heat through your head and feet, so pay particular attention to wearing good socks and a beanie or cap. Even in the gym, this will help you warm up faster and if you have to take them off once you start, that’s easy. Keeping your hands warm with a pair of gloves is also a sensible option. If you run though puddles, make sure when you’re finished to have a dry pair of socks to change in to.

Keep up your core and flexibility work.

It’s easy if you are time pressured to forget about the extras you may do in summer, like staying to stretch or working on your six-pack. Utilise the space we have at the gym to increase your ability to stay loose and strong if you’re challenged. Have a go at using the ‘TRX Trainers’, we have as they are fantastic for developing both core and general strength. I have one at home and I love using it as there are loads of different options you can do.

Get help if you need it.

We are a stoic bunch at times, thinking that we can just battle injuries and illness out. We actually don’t need to put ourselves through extra suffering, so if you’re unwell or hurt, there are people that can help. Do yourself and your family a favour and try to accelerate your healing.

Vitamin D days.

When you do get those beautiful winter days that are crisp and the sun is out, ensure you make the most of it. Stock up on Vitamin D by exposing your skin to direct sunlight for your bone health and mood.

Most importantly have fun in the gym, outside or in the pool. Winter is a chance to really make some great gains in your health and fitness, so take up the challenge. Stay warm and do the little things which add up to a bigger picture. Go well, be healthy and look forward to seeing you around AUT Millennium soon.

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Sarah Cowley Ross has recently retired from the sport of athletics where she excelled at heptathlon, attending the 2012 Olympic Games and 2006 Commonwealth Games and more recently the high jump at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Sarah has been a long supported of AUT Millennium, having made the facility her training home, and was a Scholarship Athlete for many years.