Excess Waist: Tips for Staying Healthy this Holiday

In this article, Dimitris Kollaros of Mount Vernon Athletic Club and Tim Bainton of Blue Chip Tennis share tips for continuing to stay active during the winter so you can stay in tip-top tennis shape. You can read more about MTVAC, including tennis programming, here.

All the temptations of the holidays make it dangerously easy to add inches to the waist. Fruit cakes, rum cakes, eggnog, turkey, ham, roast beef, need we say more? Combining all the butter and sugar with errands, parties, and commitments, the struggle of staying active in the winter  when outdoor courts are frozen solid is real. But all hope of a healthy holiday season is not lost with the right mindset! Here are some tips that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine:

  1. Get Low. Squats are an exercise that can be done anywhere and take up little space. The hard part can be finding time to fit this into a busy holiday schedule. A great way of integrating this into your holiday routine is while you are waiting in line at the store. Whether it’s the grocery store, getting ready to cook that holiday feast, or fitting some in some while standing in line for your hatchimal, squatting rather than just standing will burn extra calories and even work out a part of the body that can be otherwise difficult to isolate: your glutes. Self-conscious of others judging you while in line? Squeeze some in while cooking or washing dishes. Pro Tip: Do these with a friend. Having someone else there will help you both to stay motivated.

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  1. Walk in the Winter Wonderland. Taking the time to get outside and go for a walk in frigid weather might seem like a hard sell. But consider having this intimate and healthy time as a way to catch up with a family member or friend who you have not seen for a long time. A long walk is a great way to not only share stories but also burn calories. Not on great terms with those surrounding you during the holidays? Think of the long walk as a break and chance to some time to yourself. Taking walks is an easy way to stay moving while preparing yourself for the next round of familial chaos that is soon to reveal itself. Pro tip: Have a dog? Bring your furry buddy along with you. Pets need some time away from the noise and chaos, too!

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  1. Pump Up the Cardio with Indoor Tennis. Whether you’re an avid or an amateur who likes the amped up cardio that a good game can provide, you’ll undoubtedly beat the winter fitness blues when you work out on indoor tennis courts. Some fitness clubs like MTVAC offer cardio tennis – a group fitness class that focuses on moves relevant to playing tennis. Not only is this a great workout, but it can hone in on some key skills to improve your tennis game. Check out a clip from a recent MTVAC cardio tennis class!

And if you’re not already a tennis club member, consider signing up and taking advantage of the perks, like tournaments, easy to find partners and social events. We all know we’re more likely to stay fit if fitness is fun! Try a FREE 7-day tennis trial!

  1. Stretch it out. Are there lengths of time where you anticipate sitting for a while? Maybe it is watching your favorite holiday movie or sport? It could be just sitting while wrapping gifts for friends and family. Regardless of what you’re doing, put your legs out and stretch. Stretching is a great way to keep blood flowing and circulating through your body. Toe touches, butterfly stretches, and, for the overly ambitious, the occasional split, will help to make sure your heart stays healthy and happy. Not to mention, increased circulation helps prevent cramping.

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Pro Tip: feeling extra ambitious? Adding planks and pushups to your morning routine is a great way to kickstart blood flow and get you ready for the rounds of meals coming your way.

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  1. Stay hydrated. Even with the heat pumping, the fire going, lots of warm wool clothing, and eggnog, your body is working extra hard to keep itself warm during the winter. This means that your body, more than usual, needs lots of water. Staying hydrated will help combat the dry air that comes hand in hand with cold weather. What’s more, if you are a fan of eggnog, water will help to combat any ill feelings that can come with overindulging during the holidays. Pro Tip: Worried about overeating? Drinking a glass of water prior a large meal will make you feel fuller faster and prevent you from eating too much.

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  1. Seek Refuge from the Weather. No one wants to layer up and run in the snow or play tennis on an icy court. Winter is the time of year when the gym is truly your friend. If the idea of running on treadmill already makes you yawn, think outside your normal routine. Gyms in Alexandria like Mount Vernon Athletic Club offer tons of group fitness classes to keep you on your toes, plus Fitness On Demand makes classes available on your Then there is the personal training route. Working with a personal trainer offers so many benefits, especially when the chilly season forces you to change up your usual workout. A trainer can guide in you in modified or new exercises, help you with your form to make sure you don’t get injured, and change up your gym routine to keep your muscles guessing and the calories burning. Plus, you’ll have a whole new arsenal of workout ideas to pull from even when the weather is perfect.

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Staying strong through the winter is pretty simple, you just have to make health and fitness a priority and get creative!

What tips can you add to the list that help you stay in shape for tennis all through the winter? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, and Instgram by tagging us.


Dimitris Kollaros is the General Manager and Personal Training Department Head at Mount Vernon Athletic Club. He stays healthy by chasing around his two kids. Tim Bainton is the Executive Director of Blue Chip Tennis, a USTA MAS Mega Provider. To stay healthy during the holidays, he likes to make his fiancée walk the dogs for him.