By Luke Smucker
Staff Writer

During the cold, winter months, the thought of staying active may sound less and less appealing, but for those looking to work off that turkey dinner or just shake off the cabin fever, athletic clubs and gyms such as the McPherson YMCA become a refuge from winter weight gain.
Kenny Walburn, a personal trainer and co-owner of McPherson Athletic Club,  said even in the winter, everyone should get 20 minutes of cardiovascular activity and 25 minutes of strength training five days a week.
In the winter, Walburn said that attendance at the Athletic Club actually increases about 20 percent on average.
“It’s important for someone sitting at a desk to get out and be active,” said Walburn. “You are using your mind and you need to be physically active also.”
For someone who can’t afford to purchase a membership to a gym, Walburn said there is plenty of good free information out there on Web sites like Simple things like walking around the inside of a large department store or playing outside with your children can be great ways to gain exercise cheaply.
“You need to start making out what you’re going to do for the new years,” said Walburn. “But you don’t have to be a weight lifter to get good exercise, just make sure you do some good cardio. There is a reasonable amount of exercise for everyone, for one person it may be 35 minutes and for someone else, it may be 15.”
A lot of people like to run in the winter and while Walburn said there are many views on whether or not running in cold weather is a good idea, he said in his personal opinion, it’s not a very good one. If, however, people choose to run in the winter, Walburn said there are some precautions that they should take before they set forth into freezing temperatures.
“You want to keep your body warm,” said Walburn. “But not overheated to where you start sweating. I think you should wear clothing that breathes with the heat of your body.”
The benefits that Walburn said people who work out receive include: An increase in energy, better looks, better self-esteem, lower health care costs and a decrease in obesity.
“When you commit yourself to making a lifestyle change, you are going to feel and look better,” said Walburn. “ A lot of people have misconceptions. Once I get people feeling comfortable, they are going to go. I feel a lot of people have been taught wrong about health and fitness. I had to do it my way, no one ever taught me to be comfortable with my own exercise. So, I think when you find something comfortable for you, you’ll feel better.”
John Blair, the program director and a personal trainer at the McPherson YMCA, said he believes running inside during the winter is the best idea. During the winters in Kansas, Blair said it is important to have a climate controlled environment. He also said that having a staff that is there to help is often a lot more motivating than 15-degree temperatures and snow.
“If the temperature is really low, I go inside,” said Blair. “I feel like being inside and coming to the YMCA is more beneficial because you are more in control and more healthy. I wouldn’t say it’s wrong to run outside, but I think there are more benefits to exercising inside.”
If running on a treadmill doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, Blair said he also tells people to try out the elliptical machines and the stationary bikes. For a lot of runners, Blair said that running on treadmills can feel uncomfortable, but he said if the person is willing to get some advice from a personal trainer, they will help individuals to get a good workout regardless.
“I think beginning a work out in the winter is a very motivating time to start,” said Blair. “There is not a lot of activity in the winter and I think people realize they are going to gain more weight because of the weather or the schedule that it brings. It depends what is comfortable to the individual, but we always encourage anyone to come in because our goal is to keep people in shape and healthy.”