Surely just surviving the walk to the G train in this freezing weather must mean we’re burning enough calories to outweigh all of the apple cider donuts, right? This week, as part of our 8-part winter survival guide series, we spoke with Crunch personal trainer Kaitlin Mazzei about changing up our fitness routines in the winter months. Check out our previous interviews here, here, here, here, here, and here.
FITNESS: CRUNCH | 825 Manhattan Avenue
Kaitlin Mazzei, Personal Trainer
Greenpointers: Do you see more or less people in the gym in winter?
Kaitlin Mazzei: As soon as it starts to get cold people pretty much stay at home. Especially because that also tends to be the time around the holidays and I’ve noticed that most people say fuck it because they’re going to be eating poorly anyway. But once January hits, BOOM. The New Year’s resolutions are back and the gym is packed for about a month or two. Then it’s quieter again until right before summer.
GP: Do people need to work out more or less in winter?
KM: I’d say more. In the winter, people tend to eat foods that are comforting because it’s cold, like pasta and baked goods, or they order delivery and since people don’t want to leave their house as much, they don’t move as much. If they do decide to brave the cold they usually aren’t walking to where they want to go, they take an Uber.
GP: Does being out in the cold make your body burn more calories?
KM: Technically your body works harder to keep your body warm. If you take a cold shower, it activates the brown fat that heats up your body. Babies have a lot of brown fat so that they can keep warm and it’s why they have so much chub on them. It’s so small though. Don’t think ‘Oh, I’m burning all of this fat’, because for the most part what you’re eating is already ruling it out. The amount of calories you burn has to do with how fast your metabolism is and how much muscle you have. Gain muscle!
GP: Do you suggest people focus on cardio or weights in the winter?
KM: I think weights should always be a priority to be honest. It’s functional movement and it’s teaching your body how to move properly. Since most people are eating comfort foods they should use the nutrients to gain muscle. You need a surplus of calories to gain muscle, so why not use the cookies and pizza to your advantage? I’m not saying you won’t gain fat either, but when summer time comes and you want to lose the fat you’ve gained over the winter, it will be a lot easier. Your endurance will be higher, and the muscle you have built will shed the fat you want gone. Also, focus on getting stronger this winter. Just think about when you’re walking down the street on slippery ice, if you’re not feeling balanced and strong, you may just not go out. Try not to worry about weight loss, but think about gaining strength and how you’re moving because that will help you in everyday life.
GP: What’s your favorite thing to do in Greenpoint in the winter?
KM: I like to go to Good Room to dance. It’s great because it’s close and I don’t want to expend all of my energy just getting somewhere and I don’t want to spend too much time outside. They have a lot of different shows there. Dancing is a great activity for the winter because it’s getting you to move and sweat and jump and you don’t even realize you’re burning all these calories.
GP: If you are going to hunker down and not leave your apartment this winter, what do you recommend people do at home to stay in shape?
KM: I really like to cook in the winter for multiple reasons, partly because I don’t want to go outside so I try to occupy myself inside and I still like to be productive. I’m always watching what I’m eating and there are always new recipes that I want to try. At the same time, heating up the oven makes the apartment nice and warm without turning up the heat and I’m on my feet for a few hours so I’m not just on the couch watching TV. If I am just watching TV on the couch or in bed, sometimes I’ll do some random ab exercises or clam shells or leg lifts – things that I can do literally lying down and then if I get tired, I’m already in bed!