By Visit Loudoun

It’s a Friday evening and people carrying broomsticks and wearing what look like slippers on their feet are sliding around on a slab of ice throwing stones. No, it’s not a winter convention of rowdy witches. It’s weekly curling practice at Ion International Training Center, Leesburg.

“Curling is becoming really popular,” said Mitra Setayesh, co-owner and COO of Ion, one of the largest skating complexes on the east coast. “It’s an interesting sport, like shuffleboard on ice, and it’s easy to get hooked.”

Some technical clarifications. The “stone” in question is the cylindrical “puck” players push toward the target, and “brooms” are what teammates use to smooth the ice in front of the stone as it makes its journey.  It’s not an Olympic sport for nothing though.  “It’s actually quite strenuous and a good way to get fit in the new year, with a lot of lunging and squatting,” assures Setayesh.

While New Year’s resolutions are often about getting healthy, they don’t have to be about dieting, juicing or endless hours at the gym. Curling is just one of countless other fun and rewarding activities to develop a “new you” this year. 

Make like a Scandinavian for example and feel the cold winter wind in your face along Loudoun’s many hiking and biking trails. The W&OD Trail is a timeless cycle path best enjoyed between Hamilton and Purcellville where there are beautiful farm fields around you. The promise of a healthy lunch – try the lacquered salmon with Asian slaw – awaits you at Magnolias at the Mill at the end of the trail. 

Further west, on the crest of the Blue Ridge above Bluemont, a hike to Bear’s Den Overlook gets the heart racing, as do the west-facing views of Shenandoah Valley. If you enjoy climbing, why not get some extra practice? Summit Ropes in Sterling is the largest indoor ropes course in the U.S., with multiple levels of obstacles for both kids and adults.  Try it and you’ll be scaling Mt. Denali in no time. 

All this exercise means you also need rest. A stay at one of Loudoun’s boutique country B&Bs is a wonderful way to rejuvenate body and soul. In Hillsboro, scenic AltaTerra Farm B&B, Hidden View B&B and Hillsborough Winery, Brewery & Vineyard connect to each other via a set of gates, so you can take long hikes on the 60 acres between the properties. Make sure to end up at the winery/brewery to enjoy a craft ale or glass of Ruby Red, soaking up stunning views of the valley below. 

For more ideas on ways to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions, check out