By JUDY SHERARD
Outdoor playgrounds and walking paths were deserted Wednesday as afternoon temperatures struggled to make it into the 20s.
The frigid air drove fitness buffs indoors.
The Hays Recreation Commission fitness center opens at 5 a.m., and by mid-morning, about 10 people were working out.
Jill Mall, the center's wellness director, said they weren't busy early, but the numbers increased as the morning wore on.
"We usually see a lot more traffic this time of year," she said. "We see some new faces."
People like Hays native Cory Thyfault drop in to use the facility while visiting family in town.
Thyfault, now a Kansas State University student, got a month's pass to work out while he's home for the holidays.
"I prefer being outside, but not today," he said. "I lift inside, but (I) usually do something outside."
The high temperature in Hays on Wednesday was 25.
Meanwhile, the center sees its regulars, too. Korina Parker usually hits the fitness center at 6 a.m. with her workout partner. She took advantage of a day off Wednesday to come in a little later.
She walks outside when the weather is nice, but is glad to be indoors on days like Wednesday.
The Mall also has its regular walkers, though after-Christmas shoppers made it a little busier than usual for Theresa Flax and Karen Marintzer. They walk together a couple times a week. This time of year, they walk inside "unless the weather's nice," Flax said.
The weather has to be "pretty good" to lure Charles McDonald outside for a walk.
"We were just saying we're thankful we have The Mall to walk in, especially on days like this," McDonald said as he walked with Gordon Crowdis of Atwood.