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Portland Sweat Project: Free Wednesday morning workouts worth waking up early for

Portland Sweat Project: Free Wednesday morning workouts worth waking up early for

What is it about winter that drives most morning workouts inside? Is it the snow? The cold? The dark?

I get it. Waking up early to work out is certainly less enticing when it still looks like nighttime outside and you know it’s going to take 10 minutes of serious scraping to clear your car windows of ice.

Running up the East End hill with Portland Sweat Project this December. Photo courtesy Portland Sweat Project
Running up the East End hill with Portland Sweat Project this December. Photo courtesy Portland Sweat Project

But consider this: Starting your workout under the light of the moon is pretty badass. And you’ll get to watch the sun light up the morning sky, which is invigorating in its own right. And sure, it’s cold to start, you won’t be cold for long. A few hill sprints and you’ll be shirking layers like no one’s business. And all that snow? It’s perfect for sledding!
Working out with a lively group of people helps, too. And Portland Sweat Project certainly has that.

Fitness trainer Crystal Seaver started Portland Sweat Project earlier this year, leading morning workouts outside at Portland’s Back Cove and Eastern Prom. The free (yes, free!) workouts continue this winter, come cold or snow, every Wednesday at 6:29 a.m.

Summer workout with Portland Sweat Project. Remember when we could go outside in tanks? That was nice. Shannon Bryan photos
Summer workout with Portland Sweat Project. Remember when we could go outside in tanks? That was nice. Shannon Bryan photos

The location changes weekly (Back Cove, Eastern Prom, Deering Oaks) and each week’s location is posted on Portland Sweat Project’s Facebook page and Instagram.

A snowy workout in Deering Oaks this December. Photos courtesy Portland Sweat Project
A snowy workout in Deering Oaks this December. Photos courtesy Portland Sweat Project

The workouts change, too. One week you might be partnering up for wheelbarrow races and rounds of side planks and jumping jacks, the next you’ll be sprinting up the East End hill and using a hula hoop as part of a team-building group warmup.

(I don’t love running up hills. But I have to admit, if you’re going to run up hills, it helps to be surrounded by a cool group of people who high-five you as they run by, and it helps to have a sled at the top of that hill that you can use to sled back down.)

Sledding. Sometimes you fall out. Photo courtesy Portland Sweat Project
Sledding. Sometimes you fall out. Photo courtesy Portland Sweat Project

This week’s workout ended in glorious fashion, too. Several people stripped down to swimsuits for sprint relays on East End Beach.

Beach sprints in December. Sometimes in swimsuits. Photo courtesy Portland Sweat Project
Beach sprints in December. Sometimes in swimsuits. Photo courtesy Portland Sweat Project

A few really bold souls even jumped into the water.

A brave leap into the cold water. Shannon Bryan photo
A brave leap into the cold water. Shannon Bryan photo

(Were they cold as hell? Absolutely. Was it worth it as a symbolic gesture to let the world know winter rocks and the snow won’t get us down and maybe to stick it a little bit to our friends and loved ones who lives in warmer climes? I think yes. Then again, I remained bundled up the entire time, so I have no idea. But it looked like fun!)

So go ahead, wake up before sunrise, pile on some breathable layers, and head out into the snow this winter. You might just love it.

Portland Sweat Project

A grassroots fitness and community movement
6:29 a.m. Wednesdays year-round. Free! Various locations around Portland.
www.facebook.com/PortlandSweatProject/

Shannon Bryan

Shannon Bryan

I don't like "exercise" any more than you do. But you know what I do like? Paddleboarding with a friend all afternoon (and then sitting in the grass to drink chardonnay). Bike rides and nachos, hikes, yoga classes held in breweries, group paddles to Fort Gorges, you get the idea. Because Maine is my gym.