Brad Spencer bundles up each day to brave frigid temperatures on the way to one of his favorite winter activities: surfing.
Spencer, the 2012 Pepsi World Flowboarding champion, recently moved to Utah from Florida and is a daily patron at Flowrider Utah in Ogden, an indoor surfing facility. He has been flowriding for nine years and uses this low-impact and warm sport as a way to stay in shape when he's not wakeboarding in the summer.
He's one of many who have embraced flowriding. In addition to being a board sport, Flowriding also provides a warm way to remain physically active during the cold season.
Finding it hard to get moving this winter? You're not alone. From 2010 to 2011, there was a decrease in participation in sports, fitness and other physical activities, according to the Physical Activity Council. Additionally, winter sport participation decreased 1 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the Physical Activity Council. This seemingly insignificant drop gains importance when taking into consideration the fact that on average fewer than 10 percent of Americans participate in winter sports.
Even if winter sports aren't your thing, there are alternatives that can get you out of the house.
Many states offer indoor surf simulators where you can escape chilly 10-degree weather and step into 82-degree water.
Adrenaline begins to pump as you step off the grate and onto a surfboard. Clutching a tow rope, the current begins to propel you backward. The skilled are able to carve and cut their way through the water, while beginners wobble, fall onto a padded surface and are washed up at the top of an incline of rushing water.
Those who catch on shred back and forth through the water, drop in from the top of the incline and do 360-degree spins.
Even those who just come to watch can be entertained by the endlessly funny spills people take on their surfboards, akin to watching a perpetual reel of America's Funniest Videos, only live.
Elena Cohen, of Allentown, Pa., visiting Utah for a week, took a day off from the slopes to use the Flowrider because she hates cold weather.
"This is like the thrill of snowboarding but without the cold," Cohen said.
Shaun Hancock, manager of Flowrider Utah, said winter is one of their busiest seasons because there is not much to do outside. Often, tourists will step off the slopes in the Ogden and Salt Lake City areas and into Flowrider. Usually people pick things up by the second or third time they come, Hancock said.
"It's like skiing, snowboarding and wakeboarding, but it's its own little animal," Hancock said.
Even kids can flowride, as long as they are at least 42 inches tall.
"There's some little ones that just rip out there," Hancock said.
Worried about the cold? You'll be fine as long as you bundle up. And if you really get cruising, it's likely you'll be shedding layers by early afternoon.
Although few thrills match the wonder of cruising down a hill, some may be hesitant to jump in because of the high cost. But ski resorts and associated companies offer deals to attract potential skiers and snowboarders.
Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month is just about over, but more information can be found at skiandsnowboardmonth.org. You can find specials and even links to ski movie showings.
For a bonus, Skis.com is offering a $50 gift certificate to anyone who signs up for a beginner lesson this month.
On average, equipment rentals range from $20 to $55 per day, depending on equipment quality and rental locations.
Curling patrons — a number that spikes every four years during the Olympics before sharply dropping off again — may be seen as participating in a sport that is in the league of so-called non-athletic activities like bowling. However, this game is harder than it looks.
Beginners can attend training sessions where they learn the fundamentals of the sport. Each is required to master the skills of sliding the stone (known as "throwing"), sweeping the brooms and launching out of the hack — a foothold on the ice that is similar to the starting blocks used in track and field.
Ultimately the aim is for the stone to land in the innermost concentric circle in an area on the sheet known as the house. The person launching the stone begins across the ice (called the "sheet") and is required to glide 20 plus feet from the hack to what is called the hog line, the area on the sheet where he releases the stone.
Once the stone is released, team members sweep brooms on the ice and scramble to keep up with the stone's speed, brushing feverishly to alter the state of the ice in front of the stone. When the stone needs to pick up speed, they'll hear calls of "Heavy! Harder!" from the team's captain. When the stone needs to slow down, the skip will cry, "Up!" indicating they should cease sweeping.
A curling team consists of a lead, who launches the first two stones; the second, who slides the third and fourth; the vice skip — or assistant team captain — who throws the fifth and sixth stones; and the skip — or team captain — who throws the final two stones.
Each team takes turns sliding their respective stones. The skip for each team stands in the house and holds their broom over the area where the stone should land, and coaches the sweeping of his team members. When it is the skip's turn to throw, the vice skip takes over the skip's responsibilities.
Thought this ice sport was only for Wii users and citizens of Canada? Think again. This sport of brushes and stones can be found in your backyard and for affordable prices. Find one of dozens of curling clubs nationwide.
This sport offers fun for the whole family with the bonus that it can be done in your backyard.
Snowshoeing offers an easy segue into winter activities. It's relatively inexpensive. Rentals range from $15-$30 per day at sporting goods stores. Once you bundle up, strap on your snowshoes and pick a trail, you're good to go. The shoes are generally lightweight and at times you feel as if you have nothing on your feet. The wide surface area of the shoes allows you to feel as if you're floating on the harder snow and is ideal for cruising through fresh powder.
All skill levels can participate in this sport, and given the activity's inherent lack of structure, it can be taken at any pace. Those looking for a leisurely winter stroll can snowshoe in their local park, while those looking to break a sweat can pick a mountain trail.
For more information on snowshoeing, visit trails.com.
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