Peeling Back the Layers

When winter rolls around, wearing more layers of clothes into the gym becomes necessary. But once you get into your workout, do you keep them on or peel them?

As temperatures drop this winter, the need to bundle up (especially in my case when I train early in the morning and live in the Midwest) becomes more of an issue. Recently, as I was progressing through our group dynamic warm-up on a brisk 34-degree morning, I noticed that about half our class was stopping between stretches to peel off layers.

The question became: Can you handle doing a workout with all those layers on?

On a frigid morning, I’ll start off with a basic layering system: shorts, tee, long-sleeve tee, sweatpants and hoodie. If it’s especially cold (we hit a wind chill of -45 this past January), I’ll wear a stocking cap, a jacket and gloves walking in. Part of the issue for us is that we don’t have any heat. You want to be warm, start moving. Even though I roll in the front door at 5 a.m. much like Ralphie’s brother Randy when he was heading to school in the movie A Christmas Story, I’m not comfortable with all that garb once the clock hits 3, 2, 1 … go.

Unless there is an outdoor 400-meter run involved in our WOD, I just can’t train in a hoodie or sweats. I feel like I’m suffocating. Trust me, it’s not like I’m moving so fast that the thing is slowing me down. It’s just more of a feeling that I’m trapping all my body heat inside and that the hoodie restricts my range of motion.

Like I said, I don’t mind the short amount of time it takes to throw it on as I transition to an outdoor run and then toss it aside when I return to continue my workout. But having it on the whole time I train at the box, I just can’t do it.

Same with layers under the T-shirt or shorts. I used to train with a spandex long-sleeve shirt when it would get really cold in our box. I have used leggings (man version, I think) under my shorts, especially as temps bottom out mid-January. But every time, halfway through the WOD, I’m regretting having on the extra gear. The problem is that there is a balance between wanting to stay warm in the early part of training in our unheated gym and being smothered and uncomfortable by the time it’s over.

I understand that a lot of the country (and around the world), athletes don’t have to worry about this topic. I’d be curious to hear what those of you who do have to say about it.

When the temps hit zero or below, and if you don’t have heat, how long do you keep on those layers? Are you the type who piles on the clothes and keeps them on?

Stay on the Grind.