Tanya Tiessen, BCRPA, ACE PT, MS
While picking up your child from a soccer practice at the local park you might notice a group of adults of varying ages skipping in the parking lot.
While picking up your child from a soccer practice at the local park you might notice a group of adults of varying ages skipping in the parking lot. The group members finish skipping and run over to the railing leading into the community centre. Out of a pocket in their shorts appears some tubing which they wrap around the railing and begin to use to complete a number of upper body strengthening exercises. This is one of many new fitness classes that convene at the gym, but take place outdoors.
There are many walking, running groups and outdoor circuit training classes geared towards triathalon training, a military bootcamp class (where exercises are designed around the training done in the military) or simply interval-style training (short bursts of cardiovascular and strengthening exercises), using nature as the gym.
People are taking to the outdoors to work out for various reasons. Most often they are looking for fresh air after a day stuck inside the office. The great outdoors is free and available to use at any time–great for trying to fit a workout into a busy day. The idea of a group-led fitness class using nature is also very appealing to those who may feel intimidated by the loud music and complex choreography of an aerobics class.
Setting An Example
One group in Vancouver meets at a local gym at a scheduled time and the participants are asked to grab a skipping rope and a dyna band (a small rubber tube with or without handles available at most fitness stores). The class leaves the gym and heads for the local park. Participants can power walk or jog, depending on their level of fitness and preference. (The faster participants loop back to keep the group together.) Once they reach the park they start their circuit with lunges up a gradual incline on the grass field. The instructor monitors both the participants’ form and technique. After a two-minute interval it is time to move to the next station at a light jog.
At the second station, the group starts with two minutes of skipping. Two minutes of squats on and off the curb follow. The group repeats the cycle once, then moves to the ice arena where everyone runs up the stairs and around the building at varying speeds. The group repeats this cycle four times.
Then comes the dyna band. They wrap the band around the railing of the stairs and perform shoulder presses for one minute, followed by a one minute skip. This cycle ends with chest presses and skipping for one minute each.
Next participants release the bands from the railing, stand on the bands and perform bicep curls, followed by tricep kickbacks for one minute each. Depending on the weather, they might run over to the grass field to complete abdominal curls and push ups. After this segment it is time to return to the gym, again either power walking or jogging.
Outdoor training in good weather makes sense. The effectiveness of this type of training lies in the bursts of energy and the cross-training, both of which burn fat and improve cardiovascular performance. The outdoors is a wide world offering many possibilities. Get out and do it!