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Snow Spurs Winter Workout

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    NEWSLETTERS

    As locals across the area are heading indoors to take cover from the snow, one fitness expert is
    taking advantage of the flakes with a pop-up workout outside.

    "It allows our clients and their friends to let their workouts become fun things to do in the city," said Gavin McKay, founder of Unite Fitness and the leader of the Tuesday afternoon exercise session. "You don’t feel like you are working, you feel like you are playing."

    The impromptu "Flash Fitness" event was scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. in Rittenhouse Square. 

    The 45-minute outdoor session attracted 12 people to the snow-filled park in Center City, McKay said.

    The winter weather makes certain exercises like running too risky, but the snow gives McKay a chance to incorporate some new moves.

    "Snow angels would be a good warm-up," he said. "It is like a jumping jack in the snow."

    Participants created a small snow boulder and carried it as a weight-training exercise, said McKay, who added that he will include other typical moves that are still safe in this weather like lunges and push-ups.

    McKay, who suited up in his snowboard gear, says all participants should dress appropriately for the snowy regimen.

    "Cover every inch," he said.

    Dr. Paul Marchetto, a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at the Rothman Institute, agrees.

    Nearly 50 percent of heat can escape from the top of one's head, so a hat is essential to maintaining a normal body temperature, he said.

    "Get a muffler, scarf or mask of some kind to cover your mouth and nose," he said. "When you are inhaling in this temperature, it could affect your upper respiratory tract."

    He also reminds participants of the exercise basics -- hydrate and warm-up. "You still can get dehydrated and get cramped even though you are not sweating," he said. "Think about more stretching, your body is really tight and it needs to warm up."

    But Marchetto, who is also one of the Eagles team physicians, warns those who are not used to exercising in cold weather should sit this one out.

    "Athletes practice exercising in this weather and gradually work at it to get used to those temperatures," he said.

    Unite leads other Flash Fitness events throughout the year, but this is its first one in the snow. "This is just an idea we wanted to try this year," McKay said.

    All the pop-up workouts are part of Unite's philosophy of community fitness.

    "There is only so much you would do if you were on your own," McKay said. "When you are signed up for a group session...there is such a higher percentage chance you will go."

    Marchetto is also a fan of the group workouts, especially in the cold.

    "It goes along with the buddy system in this kind of weather to make sure you are tracking one another for undue events," he said.

    An exercise partner can check for any changes in behavior indicative of hypothermia including slurred speech, abnormal motions, or acting sleepy or confused, Marchetto said.

    Marchetto also suggests having your buddy check the tips of your nose and ears for any signs of frostbite.