Winter is Coming


Maintaining that Harvard physique in the face of it.  

While I am a proponent of the seasonal tradition of packing on a few in preparation for the winter months, others maintain that winter is not the time to hibernate but rather to reinforce one’s strength and health. We are currently enjoying the blessings of a New England fall — one of which is the ability to run comfortably along the Charles River while admiring the grace of the rowers and the natural artistry of the fall foliage. Sooner than we expect, I warn you, the ground will harden with ice and the squalls rising from the Charles will become bitingly unbearable. Therefore, I intend to now give you, oh dedicated readers of the Indy and health nuts alike, a number of suggestions for maintaining that Harvard physique throughout the Boston winter.

The age-old struggle of passive-aggressively winning your treadmill from the law student who is out of time adds a level of excitement to an otherwise dull workout at Hemenway. The awkward eye contact and impatient fiddling with the dry erase marker to get that runner off the treadmill no doubt leads to a better run as adrenaline levels increase in preparation for a possible fight over Treadmill Number 6. Once the thrill of conquest has passed though, one needs some other way to distract from the bodily distress running causes. I suggest the watching of action-packed shows — Blacklist is currently one of my favorites and will be possessing a primetime position in front of the “Distance” numbers on the treadmill dash. When the episode has ended and my body is spent, I admit I looked forward to the use of the Hemenway showers — which, in comparison to the hallway shared drip closet in Canaday, seemed spa-like.

If fighting the urge to stop breathing in the poorly ventilated, sweat saturated air at Hemenway has become too much, a migration to the MAC may be in order. I concede it might take some time to figure out the correct path to the elliptical side without passing through the Zumba class. I have spent a few shameful minutes myself walking in loops up and down the stairs to try to get there. But once you have arrived, you have arrived. The view is better, there is more space, and more open machines. This usually means fewer people to pressure you into going faster while they sweat and huff next to you — which I like.

Speaking of fewer people, the QRAC is almost always empty except for a few stray adults. And if the sweet, smiling greeting of the lady at the front desk is not enough to get you out there, I don’t know what else will. A workout that my friends and I have stumbled across, is a light jog from the river to the QRAC followed by strength training circuit on the machines and concluded with a lovely breakfast at the Cabot dining hall. As the temperatures plummet though, any time spent slightly sweaty in the outdoors may prove ill advised.

Apart from the small adventures working out on your own at the Harvard gyms (I have left out the house gyms — explore at your own risk) leads to, there are actual group exercise classes to participate in. I know that there are multiple levels of yoga, zumba, and cycling. I have only done the biking class a total of two times last winter. In retrospect it was rather fun. The instructor was so excited to have a pair of undergraduates present that she paid special attention to my friend and I. After she fixed the bike for us, which I had no idea how to work, we hopped on and pedaled away. The peppy music and instructor’s encouragement made up for the fact that we weren’t actually going anywhere. I also spent a lot of time during that class comparing myself to the other cyclists. I know that is a terrible habit to have at the gym, but during the cycling I found it quite motivating. Keeping up with the paces set and the rhythmic sound of pedals was calming. I also found myself wondering who the heck the rest of these people were. The anonymity reached because of this was freeing and let me enjoy the workout while idly making up dramatic backstories for each of the other cyclers. I still remember the funny shorts worn by the part time CPA who moonlighted as an amateur tight-rope walker.

When all is said and done, these workouts are well intentioned but if this winter proves to be anything like the last, the treks through the snow to class alone will do. Until then, I will blissfully enjoy my river runs (*jogs) until my lungs can’t take the frigid air any longer and I am forced to move indoors.


Caroline Cronin ’18 ([email protected]) hopes this will in some way justify the increasingly consequential holiday intake.