Summer fitness tips to beat the heat
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
Photo: Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn, co-founders of Fit Chicks, run boot camps and workshops across the country
While the onset of summer heat is often synonymous with the addition of long days at the pool and ice-cold popsicles, it can also mean another thing for regular exercisers: hot workouts.
Whether you are an avid walker or a CrossFit queen, chances are you have begun to run into a workout or two that feels a little too hot to handle. But that doesn’t mean your healthy ways should fall by the wayside.
I sat down to get some tips from Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn, co-founders of Canadian-based Fit Chicks (fitchicks.ca), a one-stop-shop for boot camps, workshops and retreats across the country, to find out what to do when those workouts feel too hot to handle.
Tip No. 1: Proper workout gear matters
“First of all, the workout clothing you wear is essential to making sure you don’t overheat during your workouts,” Jackson said. “We recommend our clients wear loose, breathable clothes that wick sweat away and a hat during our outdoor boot camp classes. This will allow your body to breathe, let air in to cool you down and help evaporate sweat. We also recommend choosing lighter colors, like white or pastels, as it reflects the sun and will keep you cooler than dark colors which attract the heat.”
Jackson and Quinn emphasized functionality is also a factor in choosing the right workout clothes.
“To get the best results, you have to be able to move freely during each exercise,” Quinn said. “Without the proper summer gear, you may be limited with your movements, thus not getting all the benefits from your workout. Let’s just say jean shorts and lunges are not the best combo! Choose clothing that works with your body’s natural motions and has elements of stretch to it so you can really get full range of motion.”
Plus, Jackson added: “The better you feel about yourself, the better your workouts are! If you wear clothes that stress you out, then you won’t have a good workout. This is especially true for working out outdoors. [For example,] if you’re more concerned with your clothes staying on or your ‘muffin top’ showing than how many calories you are burning, then those are not the clothes for you. The key is feeling good outside and in, and also feeling prepared.
“For some, the feeling they’ve got the right running shoes, the right shirt and a cute pair of flattering yoga pants takes their workout to another level. You will be surprised how much better workouts get when you’re in the best frame of mind. Dressing the part certainly helps get you there!”
Tip No. 2: Stay hydrated!
“If you are going from an air conditioned gym to sweating up a storm outside in hot summer days, then you will probably need to re-adjust your water intake,” Quinn said. “If you are dying of thirst during your workouts, then it usually means you are already dehydrated. On days of boot camp or intense exercise, you should be downing some extra water during the day leading up to workout time so you are super-hydrated when it comes to sweat time. This also helps to prevent muscle cramping and aids with recovery.”
Jackson said one of her favorite tricks is to put six rubber bands around a 16-ounce bottle. “Remove one every time you drink and refill,” she said. “[When all six bands have been removed] you will have just drunk 12 8-ounce glasses of water!”
According to Jackson, pure coconut water is also a great option for replacing electrolytes and potassium.
Tip No. 3: Prepare for workouts
“We are creatures of habit and we think that we can just take the same workout from indoors to outdoors – wrong!” Quinn said. “This can be mentally frustrating and physically ineffective. Always use the first couple of workouts outdoors to gauge how you feel. For example, ‘Am I tired? Am I sore? How fast can I go? How much water did I drink today?’ so you can start to know how your body reacts in different climate and elements, then prepare accordingly. Always challenge yourself, but make sure to honor your body at the same time.”
It’s also important to plan your workout times in advance. “With the sun being at the hottest between noon and 2 p.m., try and schedule your workouts during cooler periods like early morning or late evening,” Jackson said. “This will also help you from skipping workouts.”
Quinn also emphasized adequate sleep is important for a solid workout.
“[Sleep] is the most underestimated of all preparation tactics!” she said. “We need our rest to get the most out of workouts, mentally and physically.”
I’m curious: What are your favorite tricks for staying cool during summer workouts?
Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the author of The Gluten-Free Revolution and a certified health coach. She is also the author of the popular gluten-free blog, sincerelycaroline.com. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at