We’ve all made the promises before, but that doesn’t stop us from making them again: We’re going to focus on getting fit in the New Year – No, for real this time! – and we’re not going to let the Chippewa Valley’s cold weather be an excuse. If you’re creative – and you can get your hands on the right equipment – this is a great time of year to work out, even outdoors. Here are some ways you can improve your body while enjoying the beauty of the Eau Claire area.
Once there’s some powder on the ground, strap on some snowshoes and get outside. Whether they’re lightweight aluminum or old-school wooden models, snowshoes will help you blaze a trail through the crisp stillness of a Wisconsin winter. There are plenty of great places to snowshoe in the Eau Claire area (here), including Tower Ridge Recreation Area, Beaver Creek Reserve, and Lowes Creek County Park. The latter location was the site of the 2015 U.S. National Snowshoe Championships, and on Feb. 13 this year it will host the annual Powder Keg Snowshoe and Fat-Bike Races. Check out corbapowderkeg.com for details.
Our northern neighbor Hayward may be home to the world-famous American Birkebeiner, but the Chippewa Valley is no slouch when it comes to cross-country skiing, either. In the city limits alone, there are four groomed trails: Carson Park, Fairfax Park, Pinehurst Park, and the City Wells Area across from Riverview Park. Just outside town you’ll find dozens of additional miles of trails at places like Tower Ridge, Beaver Creek, Lowes Creek, and the amazing Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area outside Menomonie, which features nine miles of trails of varying difficulty that are groomed for both stride and skate-style skiers.
This ancient Scottish sport is quite popular in Wisconsin, where we appreciate its competitiveness, civility, and the fact that you can drink beer in between sending 44-pound curling stones across the ice. (Remember: Drinking too much beer may work against your fitness goals.) The Eau Claire Curling Club, which has its home ice at the Eau Claire County Exposition Center, 5530 Fairview Drive, welcomes spectators during regular league play and during bonspiels, or tournaments, and holds periodic open house sessions where kids and adults can try their hands at the icy action.
Thanks to the wonders of 21st-century technology – i.e., a big, inflatable plastic dome – you can now play sand volleyball in the dead of winter in Eau Claire. The newly constructed Complexx at Wagner’s Lanes, 2159 Brackett Ave., features three sand volleyball courts, a tiki bar, and space for 500 patrons for events like concerts and parties. And if volleyball isn’t your thing, there’s always bowling.
HIT THE GYM
Finally, if you just want to burn some calories shooting hoops, swimming laps, or going nuts on the elliptical machine, there are dozens of fitness centers, big and small, that can help you meet your goals. If you’re traveling in the Chippewa Valley, some gyms offer days passes, while the Eau Claire YMCA will let members of any other YMCA use its facilities free of charge. In short, you won’t break a sweat finding somewhere to break a sweat!