The best winter exercise machine

Perhaps you saw the commercial on TV featuring Jillian Michaels, “America’s toughest trainer,” and the machine she promises with deliver five times the calorie burn. It’s a treadmill with a SEE-cret. She really emphasizes the SEE in secret. Then she reveals the secret – it’s incline. The machine she’s selling on your TV isn’t just an ordinary treadmill. You can raise the platform so that you’re getting the workout you’d get by hiking up hills.

That’s great. By raising the incline you’re getting the aerobic benefits of walking and the resistance benefits at the same time. You’re burning calories while you’re engaged in the exercise and the resistance from walking up inclines builds and tones muscles so that you will also burn more calories at rest.

To keep your workouts from getting boring you can also enjoy walking in a variety of interesting places around the world powered by Google Maps. You get more than just scenic walks, you get Jillian’s iFit®, that lets you can choose from a variety of weight loss training programs designed by Jillian Michaels, herself. If you prefer, you can choose from a vast library of customizable workouts including 5K, 10K, and half and full marathon training programs. To access this feature you must pay to subscribe. Shop around for the best offer.

My personal review of Jillian’s incline treadmill and all home gym equipment is this. It’s an expensive place to pile clothes and stub your toes.

I don’t care what piece of equipment I buy, how excited I am when I first get it, or my good intentions to use it daily. It never takes long before it is covered in clothes, and causing me pain on the way to the bathroom in the dark of night. I’ve yet to get my money’s worth from any piece of home gym equipment.

Even if Jillian were right in my house pushing me with all of her toughness, I’d still fail to get the fit, sculpted body of my dreams. I’d tell Jillian to get out and take her stupid machine with her. I don’t respond to “tough.”

The best winter exercise machine I have weighs about 14 pounds. It compels me to get up and get moving by its relentlessness. It stares at me. I can’t ignore the stare because it follows me and keeps staring. I always respond by getting up and getting my exercise because it’s too uncomfortable to do anything else. You’ll never find a better reason to get moving in the winter than by owning a dog.

This is what happens when ignore  "exercise time."

This is what happens when ignore “exercise time.”

Chico, my mini schnauzer is by far the best winter exercise machine I’ve ever had. He needs several walks a day that usually add up to a total of roughly 8000 steps. I guess he’s a tough trainer too, but he never yells at me to get me moving. That stare he gives isn’t mean, it’s needy. He’s looking at me as if to say, “you can go to the bathroom any time you feel the need, I got to wait and beg until you decide to take me out for some relief.”

This can't wait. Chico can't be ignored or told to go away like I could do to a trainer no matter how tough that trainer may be.

This can’t wait. Chico can’t be ignored or told to, “go away!” like I could do to a trainer no matter how tough that trainer claims to be.

If all he needed was to take care of business, he wouldn’t be much of an exercise machine. Once outside he needs to get exercise by walking long enough to make him quiet once we get back inside. Without enough exercise there is no end to the kind of mischief and unwanted behavior he can find.

Word of caution about outside winter activity

When it’s cold it’s important that both of us are prepared to face the elements. For me it’s a down-filled coat that reaches to mid-calf. It keeps my hips and thighs warm and that’s essential if I’m going to be outside long enough to really get any sort of beneficial exercise.

I need a hat. If my ears are cold I won’t stay out. It’s too painful. If it’s windy, I need extra protection around my face and ears, so I flip the hood up over my hat. I hate cold hands and feet so I make sure they’re also adequately prepared for the weather. Down filled mittens beat every kind of hand covering. They’re warm, they don’t let the wind in, and mittens are warmer than gloves.

My down-filled winter exercise outfit

My down-filled winter exercise outfit. I also wear shoes that are waterproof with excellent traction for icy conditions. I like Bogs for snow.

My buddy appreciates some consideration for his comfort too. He wears a dog version of the popular Baker Blanket, which is a turnout rug for horses. It’s fleece lined and features criss-cross surcingles that make it fit well and stops it from shifting out of place. It’s made by Foggy Mountain and while it’s not cheap, it’s warm because it fits and stays put and durable. Chico’s is 7 years old and still looks like new.


Chico looks good and stays warm in his doggy blanket by Foggy Meadow

Chico looks good and stays warm in his doggy blanket by Foggy Mountain


Look, I've got incline too and the added resistance of walking through snow for 6 times the calorie burn. Can't do that on no stinking treadmill.

Look, I’ve got incline too and the added resistance of walking through snow for 6 times the calorie burn. Can’t do that on no stinking treadmill.

I absolutely endorse a dog as the best winter exercise machine. In fact, I find a dog a superior exercise machine no matter the season. They won’t allow you to bury them with clothes and forget about them. They are also harder to trip over in the night because they usually hear you coming and get up to get out of your way.

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Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.