The Top 9 Ways to Get Fit in Western Mass this Winter

The warmer fall was nice and December was capped off by a white Christmas. But now that we’re in the heart of winter, it might be a bit harder to get outside for your usual walks or bike rides. And meanwhile, one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get fit. So how to go about it? Here are a few ideas from your friends at the Advocate.

1) Join a Gym

The Valley has plenty of places to train to get and stay fit. The 2017 Valley Advocate Best of the Valley health and fitness center was 50/50 Fitness/Nutrition in Hadley. The staff has emphasized a commitment to making people comfortable and supported as they pursue their quest for fitness.

Other places that did well in our Best Of readers poll were Northampton Athletic Club and Hampshire Regional YMCA in Northampton, Pioneer Valley Crossfit with locations in Hadley and Northampton, and Fitness Fusion in Easthampton.

2) Yoga!!

Yoga has the advantage of being both exercise and a relaxation practice. Stopping into a yoga studio can be a great way to stay fit. Yoga is used for many purposes, including addiction treatment, increasing mobility after cancer treatment, high-flying acroyoga, and animal-linked goat yoga. Advocate readers like Yoga Sanctuary in Northampton and Nirvana Yoga in Easthampton and Sunderland. If you want to try hot yoga, check out Stayin’ Aligned Hot Yoga Studio in Northampton.

3) Try Out Pilates

What is Pilates? It is similar to yoga, but with more emphasis on the body’s core: the abdoment, lower back, inner and outer thigh, butt, etc. That means Pilates-doers develop strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, coordination, balance, and good posture, which lower chances of injury with other forms of exercise. The Pilates Studio in Hadley, 50/50 Fitness/Nutrition in Hadley, and Renew Pilates in Easthampton ( are all places Valley Advocate readers have recommended.

4) Take a Martial Arts Class 

Whether you want to learn the basics of karate or try your hand at tae kwon do, there are plenty of businesses across the Pioneer Valley where you can hone your martial artistry for self defense, building dexterity, or to broaden your mind-body connection. There’s Northampton Martial Arts and Spirit of the Heart in Northampton, and the Western Mass Martial Arts Academy in Hampden, and Team Linked Mixed Martial Arts for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Ludlow.

5) Fencing 

So, you want to take up the art of fencing, a.k.a., that cool swashbuckling sword sport that’s honestly kind of badass. Check out the Pioneer Valley Fencing Academy in Easthampton. There are beginner classes that include an introductory course in fencing, modern foil techniques, and historical fencing. Courses run 10 weeks over the course of eight sessions. There’s also Riverside Fencing Club in Hadley, which offers fencing courses, tournaments, and open fencing time.

6) Try Skiing  

It’s winter, and yes that means frigid temperatures and a ton of the white fluffy stuff. Biking is problematic and good luck hiking. But when winter arrives, it’s prime season for skiing. There are plenty of places in the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires to enjoy skiing down a snowy mountain. There’s Butternut Ski Area in Lenox, Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Charlemont, and Canterbury Farm Cross Country Skiing in Becket.

7) Take a Dance Class

There are so many options for dance classes in the Pioneer Valley that it’s going to be difficult to choose just one style to learn! Dancing a great way to make exercise fun (there’s a reason Richard Simmons only moved to music). Work on your belly rolls in a belly dancing class with Sahina Bellydance in Northampton or Bellydance of Western Mass in Holyoke. Join DJ Chico Jimenez at the American Legion in Hadley for weekly salsa and Latin dancing lessons. For something more traditional, you can take a jazz, tap, or hip hop class with the Pineapple Dance School in Amherst.

8) Grab a Personal Trainer

If getting motivated to exercise in the dark winter months seems near impossible, being accountable to a personal trainer might be just what the doctor ordered. Advocate readers like 50/50 Fitness/Nutrition in Hadley for their classes and personal training. Fitness Fusion in Easthampton was also popular with readers and offers to train people of all fitness levels and ages . There’s also Tanya Gets You Fit with locations in Granby and South Hadley.

9) Join the Circus!

You no longer have to run away from home to join the circus; you can learn circus skills right in here in the Pioneer Valley! Show Circus Studio in Easthampton offers a huge range of classes for people of all ages from aerial yoga, to trapeze, to juggling labs and contortion skills. Circus skills will push you out of your comfort zone while challenging you physically. It’s also awesome. BerkCirc in Great Barrington offers similar classes for people a little farther west than the Pioneer Valley. You can also get a great abdominal work out and learn the basics of hooping at Hoop Joy in Amherst.

Author: Advocate Staff

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