How to stay fit in winter, with Dylan Harries

By Zenith Wolfe

Dylan Harries holds a thumbs up as he poses for a photograph on a treadmill.
Dovercourt manager Dylan Harries said it’s important to adapt your exercise route for the weather. Photo by Zenith Wolfe

If New Years resolutions about fitness are hard to maintain, heed the advice of Dylan Harries, manager of Dovercourt Recreation Centre.

Goals to improve fitness make up almost 40 per cent of all New Years resolutions, according to a 2022 Forbes Health study. But nearly a third of them are abandoned within three months. Another quarter of them last less than a year.

Ottawa’s cold winds and icy sidewalks underfoot during a morning jog don’t help, but Harries said there are ways to keep in shape.

Finding the blend between indoor and outdoor activities is key, as is adapting your exercise routine to the weather, he said. If your motivation fades, a network of friends, family and personal trainers eager to exercise is a first step to success.

“Both of my parents are aging, and they got a new set of Nordic walking poles for Christmas. They’re out walking, experiencing the outdoor weather,” Harries said.

Realistic and achievable goals are another step to maintaining that New Years resolution. Once the body gets moving, Harries said, other aspects of health fall into place, including weight management.

Harries said self-care is a three-part process, beginning with evaluating the wellness of your body and figuring out how to care for it. This translates into exercising to your body’s needs. Then self-care becomes part of your daily routine. To stay consistent and engaged, Harries recommended scheduling activities using a calendar with digital reminders.

Three men and a woman pose for a photograph at Dovercourts pickleball court. They are holding rackets.
A group of people play Pickleball at Dovercourt on Jan. 10, 2023. Photo by Zenith Wolfe

“I don’t think anybody truly likes to workout,” he said. “We all know it’s good for us, so if we all think of it as those three stages within our health and wellness journey, it makes it maybe a little bit more fun.”

Harries first joined Dovercourt as a fitness instructor and head lifeguard around 30 years ago, while he was still studying human kinetics in university. He is now Dovercourt’s manager of fitness, health and wellness, and although he has worked at many gyms, he said Dovercourt’s sense of community makes it special.

Dovercourt receives a spike in membership around this time of year, but Harries said its most consistent members are local families.

“Everyone is truly welcome here,” Harries said. “The kids could be taking swimming lessons while grandpa is in the weight room and mum is taking Zumba. It gives me that family feel every time I walk through the door.”

One of the recreation centre’s programs is the fitness schedule, a collection of activities catered to the specific needs of its members. Their second program, the fit pass membership, provides around 40 group fitness classes every week including access to the gym and pool. A coffee shop and cafe are open to all members looking for a bite and a chat with local friends.

Dovercourt also offers many fitness opportunities to older adults: strength and conditioning classes, active aging classes, and “light” activities available as lower-intensity alternatives.

“When people are in different ages and stages in life, they have to test themselves. It could be more of a mental fitness, more of a physical fitness, or just wellness. Our older adults are part of the family, and they have their coffee hours after class. (Dovercourt) gives them that full package of taking care of their bodies, minds, and spirits all at the same time,” Harries said.

The pool in Dovercourt with a few people swimming in the background. A dark blue water slide is also in the distance.
The Dovercourt Recreation Centre pool is one of many ways Kitchissippi residents can stay fit during the winter. Photo by Zenith Wolfe

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