Believe it or not, it won't be long before you look outside and see the signs of "Old Man Winter."
The bad weather keeps some away from outdoor activities, but countians have options for staying in shapeduring winter.
Membership at most Carroll health clubs grows fastest in wintertime, and regular members often visit more frequently.
"We have the same programs all year long," said Dave Horner, general manager of the Westminster Inn, an affiliate of the East End Athletic Club. "But during the winter, we see more people using the club.
"Every year, starting in October, new memberships increase. We get another surge in January and February after the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays."
Popular wintertime activities at East End include wallyball, basketball and aerobics. Basic fitness programs are available as well.
The Carroll Racquet and Fitness Club in Finksburg provides a healthy dose of tennis during the winter, and its 3-year-old center continues to grow.
"There has been a lot of overlap," said Vicki Ferguson, the club's owner and manager.
"We have some people come in just to join the fitness club and see all the tennis and wonder what they are missing," she said. "On the other hand, we have some tennis players who are using the fitness center more to work on strengthening their game.
"Winter is our busy time. We have a 10-team tennis league, which has 80 players involved, along with extensive adult and junior programs."
Anyone interested in playing a sport year-round couldfind it at Four Seasons Sports Complex in Hampstead, which houses indoor soccer, softball and lacrosse throughout the winter.
"With the indoor activities, our flow through the doors is much busier in thewinter months," said Kevin Bidelspach, director of operations at Four Seasons.
Bidelspach said people who use the fitness center and aerobics work out more regularly in the winter, largely due to bad weather. Indoor soccer is the most popular of the facility's winter sports, he said.
About 80 soccer teams will participate this winter, as the complex runs three eight-week sessions for ages from 6 years toover 30.
The complex also expands its offering of aerobics classes, with 20 in winter compared to 16 in summer.
Bidelspach said most of the people who join the club to get fit are relative novices. Hesaid more serious runners and bikers tend to stay away from fitness centers.
"A committed runner or biker already has a set program and doesn't usually have the time to do both," Bidelspach said.
Serious runners have little problem braving winter cold.
"We basicallyput more clothes on as it gets colder," said Dave Herlocker of the Westminster Road Runners. "The main focus is to wear a lot of layers and stay away from a heavy coat to enable you to maintain free movement."
The Road Runners conduct two races a month year-round.
"We keep running throughout the winter," Herlocker said. "Guys who predominantly run don't usually belong to fitness clubs, they usually put on their running shoes and run."
Herlocker also said triathletes sometimes have to adjust to indoor facilities when the outdoors gets sloppy with sleet and snow.
"A lot of the guys who compete in triathlons have exercise bikes at home for when it gets sloppy outside," hesaid. "Swimming indoors also increases in the winter."