Millions of people buy memberships at health clubs. Some trudge to the gym and use digital music devices to cope with the boredom of working out on aerobic exercise machines. Worse, others send their money, but not themselves.
If only they took up cross-country skiing, they might find it easier (and cheaper) to get some exercise.
While all you need for cross-country (sometimes called Nordic) skiing is a set of skis, boots, poles, and some snow. Walk or drive to your local park and have at it.
While you can go cross-country skiing just about any place there is snow, you'll have a more enjoyable time if you visit a place that is set up for cross-country skiing. The Three Rivers Park District, for example, has several locations for cross-country skiing, including the Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington.
The chalet, which doubles in the summer as the concession stand/restroom provider for the Hyland Play Area (commonly known as Chutes and Ladders), is a clean, welcoming facility offering rental equipment, snacks, and a place to gear up.
You can rent equipment for both classic and skate skiing. If you've never tried cross-country skiing, classic skiing, in which you ski in tracks, is easier to pick up. If you're not sure which to try, the staff can give you some pointers.
The reserve grooms the 7.8 miles of trails nightly, which is a boon for either type of skiing. The grooming machines lay out a wide, smooth path for skate skiing, and next to that, two tracks for classic skiing.
Though the four loops and one out-and-back trail have hills you can descend, you'll have to power yourself on the flats, as well as on the uphill stretches. That makes cross-country skiing an excellent workout, offering cardivascular benefits, as well as building lower- and upper-body endurance and strength.
Remember the smell and unpleasantness of the gym? You can forget about that, with cross-country skiing offering sunshine (vitamin D therapy) and fresh air. It offers visual delights as well. The Lake Trail, a 3.3 trip around Hyland Lake, is worth taking in for its looks alone.
While snowboarding and downhill skiing are great, sometimes it's good to take a break and try something new. Next time you're yearning to get outside, give cross-country a try.