Go play outside

Winter weather doesn’t have to keep you indoors. With the right gear, you can keep your get-fit resolutions in the great outdoors.
Just ensure you’re protected from whatever kind of unpredictable weather our Nova Scotian climate is going to throw at you. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation and bad clothing,” says Janet
Barlow, recreation coordinator for Recreation Nova Scotia.
Forgetting to wear layers is a common mistake. People either go out in enormous jackets without any layers underneath, or they don’t dress warmly enough in the first place.
“People don’t realize that cotton isn’t a good insulator,” says Barlow. “The old saying  goes that ‘cotton is rotten’ and that is true in any situation where you’re dealing with cold or any scenario where you might sweat.
Cotton absorbs the moisture, keeps it close to you, and that attracts cold. And wet cotton actually has negative insulating value.”
shopp_photo-01Barlow recommends synthetic fabrics or wool. She also stresses protecting yourself from wind and rain. “Make sure you think about outer layers, like your jacket, waterproof snow pants or rain pants, and waterproof footwear that’s appropriate for whatever activity you’re doing,” she says.
Several stores in Halifax stock that kind of winter-weather gear, including MEC, Pro Skateboards and Snowboards, and Aerobics First. Although they specialize in different sports, they all offer a broad range of clothing and accessories, from Pro’s Levi’s Commuter jeans and jackets to Aerobics First’s SmartWool sweaters.
“Our flannel selection is always hot this time of year, it’s really popular here in Halifax,” says Riley DeWitt, a sales representative at Pro. “Things like our Brixton and Nike flannels. And we’re one of the only retailers who carry Red Wing Heritage boots in store. That’s a handmade leather boot that’s been around for about 100 years and they’re on a big upswing in the city right now.”
Pro also has an impressive selection of Burton snowboarding gear, and if you’re looking for something you won’t find in your average big box sporting store, start here. “The big ones this year would be the Parkitect and Custom Twin snowboards, which are both exclusive to our store,” says DeWitt. “We’re also the only retailer here in this area of the province that has access to all Burton’s limited edition releases.”
If you’d rather have a new pair of skis, check out the selection at Aerobics First. According to ski-floor manager Charlie Hill, the store has a lot of new Salomon backcountry gear.
“They’ve released a few different skis that work really well for that now, with lots of new materials and technologies to make the skis lighter,” says Hill. “And we’ve got bindings with a hike mode so you can release the heel of the binding and go for a walk up the hill or in the woods. The Salomon Guardian is really popular and the Marker Kingpin is a new one this year.”
If you want to get the kids outside with you, check out Aerobics First’s Junior Exchange Program. The program costs $325 to start, and it’s suitable for children three years or older.
At the beginning, you get a new set of skis, boots, bindings, and poles, and every year (or whenever your children grow out of their gear), you can exchange used gear for just $75. That fee includes a fitting, tuning, and safety check. The program runs until the children are ready for adult skis, and when you return the gear at the end, you get a $100 store credit.
Starting this year, you can also get downhill skis at MEC. Although the Halifax store doesn’t keep them in stock, staff can still help you figure out what you need and order them in. If you’re just looking for helmets and goggles, though, you’re in luck: MEC carries them in the Halifax store.
Charlie Elliott, MEC’s inventory and product team leader, has noticed a resurgence in cross-country skiing. “People are starting to get into it again,” she says. “You use to have to struggle to find the right wax, but there’s
a variety of waxless skis now, and that makes it very accessible for people who are skiing for the first time.”
If you prefer a more sedate pace, try snowshoeing. That cumbersome over-sized snowshoes that used to flummox rookies are long gone. New models are small and light.
“If you’re mobile, able to walk, you can use a snowshoe,” says Elliott. “There’s no special training anymore. With the old wooden snowshoes you’d have to relearn how to walk so you wouldn’t trip over your feet and fall on
your face.”
Just don’t forget your trekking poles. Falling on your face is still a possibility, no matter how small and light your snowshoes are. Trust us.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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