Eat, stretch, surf -- our ultimate winter survival guide
Still lamenting the change of season? Don't worry, Katie Varvos suggests how to keep fit -- and happy -- in the coming months
But before you decide to hide under your duvet for the rest of the year, check out these unusual, energy-boosting ideas that are sure to keep you healthy and happy this season -- without breaking the bank.
POLE DANCING If the gym seems like a dull drag, ditch it, and grab a pole. Pole-dancing is the saucy way to keep slim this autumn.
With a combination of toning and cardiovascular exercise, a beginner dancer can burn between 300-400 calories per class. Just Dance offers beginner and intermediate classes in eight Dublin venues.
Six weeks of pole-dancing will set you back €80.
Visit www.justdance. ie/ classes/ pole_fitness to see locations and timetables.
SURFING Surfing is not considered a winter activity but Alan McLachlan, surf instructor at Bundoran Surf Co, disagrees.
Alan says: "It is the perfect time. The water has been heating up all summer and it's now reaching its peak temperature of 15 degrees."
Bundoran, Co Donegal, is the 'surf capital' of Ireland, and Bundoran Surf Co offers swell getaways that keep the heart rate up.
If you are cold-blooded, don't panic: the camp offers boots, gloves and hoods, as well as tea after every lesson. All levels of surfers are welcome and with four beaches the surf is always up.
Taking this as a solo trip, three nights and three surf lessons will cost you €160 for a private room in the bed and breakfast. However, the more the merrier -- cheaper group rates are available. See www.bundoransurfco.com
YOGA For a slower-paced getaway, The Little Yoga Cottage, in Lahinch, Co Clare, combines yoga, healthy eating, meditation and stunning scenery.
"This is an ideal time to take a yoga retreat," says Michael Moroney, the owner of The Little Yoga Cottage. "This is a crash course in preparing your 'healthy self' for the winter."
Retreats cost €209 and include two nights, all meals, four yoga classes and two meditation sessions. www.yogatraveller. com/ destinations/ ireland/the_location
DANCE CLASSES Prefer to party than pole-dance? Try Zumba, the newest fitness craze to sweep the world. Fusing together Latin and international music, converts say this high-energy dance class is more like a party than a work out.
"People concentrate so much on technique most of the time that they forget all they're doing is moving, which is burning calories," says Heather Gordon, Zumba instructor.
An hour of this body-moving boost will burn 600-800 calories. Classes won't leave you penniless, ranging from €8-€10 an hour.
There are a number of locations throughout Ireland.
For more details, visit www.zumbatastic. com/ Zumba_Ireland.html
WALKING GROUPS Joining a group can help boost motivation. The Hash Hound Harriers are what they call 'a drinking group with a running problem'.
"This unique group is for anyone who is definitely not serious," says Richard Hadfield.
Every Monday, the group begin their run from a pub, changing location weekly.
All levels, including walkers, are welcome but Richard warns: "Do not wear anything too nice or you will get ridiculed. If you wear new shoes you might have to drink beer out of them."
These fun-loving runners have a group of 20 in Dublin but are always looking for new easygoing members.
For more info visit www.angelfire.com/ak/DublinHHH/index.html
GREAT WINTER READS If your body needs a break, give your brain a boost by indulging in great winter reads. Books are an inexpensive activity, and when the cold weather creeps in, these novels are just the cure.
Homecoming is a warm and wise novel that tells the story of four very different women coming together in Dublin's Golden Square.
Belfast-born author, Cathy Kelly, has published 10 books before Homecoming, but this has been the best received to date.
Days after its release the book climbed to bestseller status in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
It is an easy-to-read, enjoyable, page-turner that is perfect for a cold winter night.
However, if you do fancy getting out from under the covers, grab some popcorn and head to the cinema for the most anticipated films of the season.
Bring the kids for a treat or just release the inner child in you this autumn.
Alpha and Omega is the newest 3D flick to hit the big screen.
This love story of two wolves at the opposite end of the pack, stars Justin Long, Hayden Panettiere and Christina Ricci. It opened in cinemas last week.
COSY WINTER FILMS If you don't feel like leaving the comforter behind grab a DVD, and cuddle up to the fire.
There is nothing like a classic winter film that will warm the body, heart and soul.
When Harry Met Sally is a hilarious romantic comedy staring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. When two strangers share a long car journey through America they are convinced they cannot be friends.
Ten years later, they accidentally meet again and the pair fall in love through a series of comical events.
This 1989 film is a timeless classic that will have you in fits of laughter and tears before the end.