This is a tough time of year: it's still mostly dreary and cold, but that discomfort is compounded by the fact that you can practically feel spring right around the corner. While the first day of the new season doesn’t come until the end of March, there’s no reason that you can’t start enjoying warm weather activities right now – you just have to be a little bit creative about it. Here are 21 ways to think spring right now – and five ways to get the best out of the last of winter.
Start Working on Your Bikini Body
Don’t panic, but you’ve only got three months until beach season. Put that time to good use in the W.H.I.N. program at Barbelle Fitness in Swansea. Women. Health. In. Nutrition. is a 12-week fitness and nutrition program to help women adopt better exercise and eating habits. It involves a personal consultation with a nurse practitioner, a food journal, weekly weigh-ins and a custom exercise regimen. Let’s face it: if you’re going to get serious about fitness, the three months before you need to face the dreaded annual swimsuit shopping are the time to do it. 1707 GAR Highway, Swansea. 508-674-5220.
Or, Get a Bikini Body without All the Hard Work
Some people like spending countless hours in the gym. While we respect that kind of dedication, some of us just don’t have it. So what do you do when you want to burn fat without all of the hard work? Turn to science. Zerona is an FDA-approved, low-intensity fat burning laser that claims to melt away fat instantly, with no pain. The results are comparable to liposuction, but without surgery. Cedarz Medical in Bristol offers the service. Bikinis not included. 812 Metacom Avenue, Bristol. 401- 253-0025.
Go for a Swim
It might be a while before you’ll comfortably be splashing around in the surf at Horseneck. If you can’t wait to make a splash, head to an indoor pool. The YMCAs in both Barrington and Seekonk have them, along with swim lessons for kids and adults, aquatic fitness classes and pool rentals (so your kid can be the only one to have a pool party for his March birthday). Bayside: 70 West Street, Barrington. 401-245- 2444. Newman: 472 Taunton Avenue, Seekonk. 508- 336-710.
Feel the Heat
There’s nothing quite like that blissful sensation of warmth on the first genuinely nice days of spring. Being surrounded by it just makes you take a deep breath, relax your tensed muscles and let go of all of those months of trying to keep out the cold. Those days are still a little ways off, but you can experience the same sensation at heated yoga. The room at Innerlight Yoga in Middletown is heated to 85 degrees for heated vinyasa, a slow-moving practice that emphasizes deliberate muscle movements, balance and strength. The heat aids in stretching and loosening the muscles, and the warmth just feels really good in your bones. 850 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown. 401-849-3200.
March isn’t exactly the perfect time to go boating – unless the boat in question is M/V Alletta Morris and you’re headed out for a seal watching expedition (pictured below). Winter is the prime viewing season for the marine mammal: Harbor Seals, Gray Seals, Harp Seals and Hooded Seals migrate down from Canada and northern New England to Narragansett Bay’s comparatively warmer waters. Save the Bay offers hour-long cruises to view them, or two-hour cruises that include a lighthouse tour. Binoculars and expert guides included. 142 Long Wharf Dock, Newport. 401-203-SEAL.
Work on Your Tan
You might be a ways away from sunbathing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great tan right now. You just need to get it from a bottle. The best way to get an even, natural-looking fake tan is airbrush tanning. Hair, Heart and Soul in Bristol offers the service with the excellent St. Tropez products, which you can take home afterwards to maintain the glow. The salon/spa also has a rain shower available before or after any spa service, which is a nice additional way to indulge. 407 Hope Street, Bristol. 401-253-5200.
Start Your Spring Cleaning
By which we mean, let someone else get a jumpstart on your spring cleaning. If it isn’t technically the season, you technically don’t have to do it, right? East Bay Errands will clean your entire house for you, so you can spend your time planning and organizing a list of big picture projects when the weather permits. When you figure out that you can’t get all of that stuff done and finish your boring errands, let them get your dry cleaning while you’re picking out a new lawn furniture set online. 401-465-1329.
Give Your Home a Makeover
Try opening your curtains and letting the sunshine in a bit early this year. In my house growing up, the change of seasons always meant a change of linens. Out went winter’s heavy, dark draperies and in came light, airy spring curtains in lighter colors and fabrics. It was always a cheering sign, and a small change that made a big difference in our attitudes. Try a mini-makeover of your own: A Shade Above in Middletown does custom draperies and window treatments designed to complement your space. 708 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown. 401-849-5664.
Let Summer Sink into Your Pores
For one blissful hour and a half, pretend it’s summer and you’re basking at the beach. How? With a tropical massage. Spavana’s The Islander is a 90-minute massage treatment inspired by the sea that uses heated seashells and basalt stones, and ends with a glow-inducing back scrub. It might not be actually lying on a beach, but it’s the next best thing. Their new location in Middletown opens at the beginning of March. 299 West Main Road, Middletown. 401-293-0000.
Some of us revel in organization, making list after list and label after meticulously color-coded label. Some of us could use some help. Wouldn’t spring cleaning be so much nicer if you could use it as an opportunity to get some things in order, and not just tidied up? Organizing in RI can help. Owner Kristin Carcieri-MacRae comes to your house and gives you creative solutions to get your home in order, once and for all.
Tend Your Garden
Get a breath of spring, even if the flowers aren’t popping up outside yet. Something is always in bloom at Blithewold (pictured below). The Bristol mansion has expansive outdoor gardens that are still beautiful, even in winter – and their greenhouses are blossoming all year long. Blithewold also offers frequent gardening workshops. February’s offering was “Native Plants for Four-Season Gardening” with the New England Wildflower Society. Check their website for March’s offerings. 101 Ferry Road, Bristol. 401-253-2707.
Shed Your Winter Skin
Your skin takes a beating during the coldest months. Exposure to brutal cold outside and blasting heat inside is the worst possible combination for maintaining healthy, soft skin. It’s going to take more than moisturizer to get rid of all of those dry winter flakes – you need professional help. Glow Day Spa in Warren offers The Ultimate Body Soothing Session (back exfoliation, body exfoliation and moisture, facial cleansing and neck and shoulder massage) to rejuvenate your skin and get you ready for capri season. 585 Main Street, Warren. 401-245-0978.
Hit the Links
The virtual links, that is. You might not be able to tee off at your favorite course right now, but you can get your swing back in shape. 426 Fitness in Warren has a state of the art indoor golf facility, the highlight of which is a Golf Simulator that allows you to play entire virtual games on some of the world’s most famous courses. The gym also offers daily lessons, a big-screen TPI Golf Fitness Assessment and a Six Week to Twenty Yards golf-specific workout regimen designed to strengthen your golf muscles and increase flexibility. This program is only available through March, so hit it while you can. 426 Metacom Avenue, Warren. 401-247-7440.
Spring training has started, but you won’t be seeing a baseball diamond until at least next month. Unless, that is, you head indoors to Sherwood Ultra Sports in Seekonk. The indoor sport facility hosts junior and adult leagues in baseball, softball, basketball, soccer and flag football. The Ocean State Lacrosse Club also holds games and practices on the premises. Who says you have to wait for summer to toss a ball around? 1314 Fall River Avenue, Seekonk. 508-336-6565.
Pound the Pavement
If you think the East Bay Bike Path is only for the warm weather, you clearly haven’t been on it recently. Runners, walkers and bikers use the path all year long. There’s no better way than a long jaunt through nature to observe the beauty of the seasons. If your bike has been languishing in the garage for months on end, take it for a tune up at East Providence Cycle and then pedal right out onto the path for some fresh air and beautiful views (even at this time of year). 414 Warren Avenue, East Providence. 401-434-3838.
Eat with the Season
When people talk about “the bounty of the season,” they’re usually referring to the abundance of fresh, seasonal foods available in summer and fall. The thing is, growers are producing every month of the year. In March, everything from Brussels sprouts to mushrooms to kale to winter squash are in season and available from local farms. Quality Fruitland in Seekonk is a year-round purveyor of that bounty. The same goes with fresh seafood: scallops, oysters, red snapper, halibut and wild salmon are all in season this month. Stop by Tony’s Seafood just down the street to take some home, fresh off the boat. Quality Fruitland: 1487 Fall River Avenue, Seekonk. 508-336-9111. Tony’s: 1365 Fall River Avenue, Seekonk. 508-336-6800.
Get Teed Off
Mini golf is an integral part of any kid (or kid at heart’s) summer experience. The nice part about living here, though, is that you don’t have to wait until the warm weather to putt around. Monster Mini Golf is a local chain gone wild. (Based in Providence, last year they opened a KISS-themed mini golf in Las Vegas with Gene Simmons himself.) The indoor mini golf features black lights and animatronic monsters. 140 Taunton Avenue, Seekonk. 508-336-8004.
Go to a Winter Farmer’s Market
Think farmer’s markets are exclusively for summer? Think again. A winter farmer’s market is filled not only with fresh greens, squash, potatoes and other produce, but with baked goods, local honey, cheeses, fresh fish, locally-raised beef, handmade soaps and more. The Sandywoods Farmer’s Market happens every Thursday from 4-7pm through May, and has live music. The Aquidneck Growers’ Market takes place at St. Mary’s Parish Hall in Portsmouth every Saturday from 9am-1pm. The Mount Hope Farmer’s Market (pictured left) happens at Bristol’s Mount Hope Farm Saturdays from 9am-1pm, also. Sandywoods: 43 Muse Way, Tiverton. Aquidneck: 324 East Main Road, Portsmouth. Mount Hope: 250 Metacom Avenue, Bristol. 877-254-9300.
Serve It Up
Don your tennis whites a few months early at Tennis Rhode Island. The indoor facility in East Providence offers courts for singles and doubles play, as well as lessons and regular amateur tournaments for kids and parent/ child teams. 70 Boyd Ave, East Providence. 401-434-5550.
Dine Al Fresco
One of summer’s supreme pleasures is enjoying a leisurely meal outside, whether it’s in your own backyard or a waterfront restaurant’s deck. It will be a while before most of them are open for business – but two Newport hot spots have heated outdoor patios. Both Diego’s (opening this month) and Salvation Café have heated, enclosed outdoor spaces. If you close your eyes and take a bite of some fresh seafood, it will feel almost like July. Diego’s: 11 Bowens Wharf, Newport. 401-619-2640. Salvation Café: 140 Broadway, Newport. 401-847-2620.
Be a Team Player
No matter what time of year it is, if you’re batting around a volleyball, it feels like summer. Channel that energy, even in the colder months, with some good old fashioned league sports play. Teamworks in Somerset is an indoor sports facility that hosts adult and kids leagues in soccer, field hockey, flag football and volleyball. 732 Lee’s River Avenue, Somerset. 508-676-3956.