Transitioning to winter sports (and searching for exercise-related gifts)

Luminary Loppet, Minneapolis

Luminary Loppet, Minneapolis

Here in Minnesota, we’re nearing the end of brown-weather limbo: leaves have fallen off all the trees and my herb-pots on the porch have shriveled into a tangle of tortured lifeless stems, but it’s not quite cold enough for lakes to freeze or to bother lighting up the fireplace. Nothing is covered in a glittering blanket of northern snow, but that’s coming any moment now, and we’re all looking forward to it.

Yes, we’re waiting for stuff to freeze solid, because that’s when outdoor exercise gets fun again. I suppose that sounds weird to people who don’t live in it, but really, outdoor exercise often revolves around trails and lakes and rivers, and when they freeze, people can ice skate and ski. They plow off a square and play broom ball on the ice.  During mid-season limbo, it’s too cold to do our favorite summer sports (in my house, we row crew), but not quite cold enough for winter sports.

From anywhere I’ve lived in the Twin Cities, I can take my skis out the back door and within a few blocks, find a path to ski to a lake. Once you ski toward the middle of a lake it gets all quiet and still, and there are both a million stars and the glowing Minneapolis skyline in the distance. And if you feel like dropping and making a snow angel, you do, and then you ski back home again and throw some logs on the fire and maybe get a glass of wine and all is right with the world.

Later on in the winter there will come a time when it gets so mother effing freezing you can toss a bucket of hot water out the back door and it’ll freeze solid mid-air and shatter on the sidewalk, but we won’t talk about that part right now. We’ve usually got at least until February before that happens.

I’m not so much into the competitive part, but last year my husband and I skied the Luminary Loppet, a cross country ski event across 3 conjoined lakes where the path is lit up by candles set in giant glowing ice cubes. Every so many yards there’s a way station with hot cider, a warming hut, some nice fellows playing music, or some buskers juggling fire.

My husband, Scott, and Uncle John are doing the Mora races this year. It’s a year-long completion with a different race each season: A half marathon, a bike race, a canoe race and a ski race. All they have left is the Mora Vassaloppet ski race, so Santa (by “Santa” I mean “Mastercard”) is bringing Scott a new pair of skate skis, because the ones he has now are old and clunky and suck.  

In shopping for the skis, I’ve come across some interesting workout gift ideas, but I haven’t really tested out any of the cool gadgets out there to see if I like them. I would like to either to put some exercise-related stuff on my gift list, or buy it for other people…. without actually having to enter the hell that is the Mall of America during the holiday season to check them out.

I kind of like this gym bag, which can double as a diaper bag. (By the way, did I mention that I’m nearly 39 weeks pregnant now? Just over ONE WEEK till baby’s due. Stay tuned.) Anyway, I want an easy-to-use gym bag with compartments and stuff.

I’d love to hear from you guys: What are the coolest exercise-related gadgets or accessories you’ve discovered? Recommendations?




2 Responses to “Transitioning to winter sports (and searching for exercise-related gifts)”

  1. Kami Says:

    I just bought the 30 Day Shred dvd for myself. Does that count?

  2. rhaazz Says:

    Oh, wow, I love X-country skiing, because it’s the only weight-bearing exercise I can do that doesn’t aggravate the (premature) arthritis in my hips. How I wish I lived somewhere where I could do it out my front door for a good part of the year.

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