By Christie Melhorn, November 21 2017 —
Calgary’s biting air and slushy streets don’t exactly beckon us to spend more time outdoors in winter. Most of us prefer to bundle up in a blanket and admire the snow from afar. Despite how cold and uncomfortable the season can be, it has inspired fun outdoor activities that let you socialize while working out. The University of Calgary’s Outdoor Centre offers classes in both traditional and less conventional winter activities.
As a historical survival tool, snowshoeing is significant to many Canadian Indigenous communities. It helps develop a respectful relationship with nature. Traditional snowshoes are built with a wooden frame woven with animal hide and are an iconic symbol of Canadian culture.
The modern version’s generally made of metal and plastic and fit onto snow boots.
David McMahon, owner of Natural Fitness Lab in Ottawa, says that snowshoeing is effective, low-impact cardio that burns between 420–700 calories an hour. It targets your core and glutes but also sculpts your arms if you use poles.
The Outdoor Centre offers a variety of snowshoeing information sessions, day treks and weekly programs that accommodate various fitness levels. Prices start at $98 for one-day classes and increase with program length. Fees include rentals costs for snowshoes.
Spending time on forest trails is not just for hot summer days. The Outdoor Centre provides guided back-country skiing tours and clinics in world-renowned locations, such as the Wapta Traverse in Alberta and Roger’s Pass in British Columbia. These trails boast striking mountainous views and offer a refreshing change of pace from ski resorts.
According to the University of New Hampshire’s health blog, Healthy UNH, skiing is a holistic, full-body workout. It can improve posture and cognitive function — both of which could benefit students on long days cooped up in the library.
One-day courses start at $80. Prices raise depending on destination and session length. Rental fees for equipment are covered in some packages but not in others.
A sure way to feel like a total badass is snow kiting — a wind sport utilizing the pull of a kite to glide over snow on skis or a snowboard. The Outdoor Centre offers a traction kiting control clinic that teach participants the skills needed to handle a kite effectively and safely.
Comparable to skiing, snow kiting is an intense strength and cardio workout.Snow kiting can develop greater coordination and spatial awareness while learning how to manipulate their weight for a successful ride. It forces major and minor muscles to control the kite, which tones your core, arms and legs. In the thick of an incredible adrenaline rush, you can develop faster reflexes and critical thinking skills. It also fosters a greater awareness of the elements, which has a profound effect on mental health — according to ongoing research by the University of Derby, a closer connection to nature diminishes anxiety and enhances a sense of life satisfaction.
The traction kite control clinics through the Outdoor Centre start at $130 — steep for a student budget. However, this covers all equipment rental fees and is probably just as fun, if not more, as an equally expensive Thursden.