The World Is Your (Jungle) Gym

Ah, summer. Warm days. Gorgeous sunsets. Picnics at the park. Weekends at the lake.

Summer means time spent outdoors, and the fresh air, Vitamin D, and increased activity lead to better moods and higher energy levels.

But summer also means more indulgences. You garden more, but you also eat more ice cream. You spend your evenings sitting on your deck…with (another) beer. You walk 5 miles at the amusement park, but you lunch on greasy pizza and funnel cakes.

I love summer and everything that comes with it – the healthy and the not-so-healthy.

Ice cream again? I’m in!

I also love exercising outside.

I love me some gym time, but summertime means changing it up and exercising in my yard, at the park, at the beach, and all through the neighborhood.

I encourage my clients to do the same.

As a personal trainer, I enjoy the challenge of creating outdoor workouts for clients who request them. I coach my clients to use the playground equipment, hills, and baseball diamond at their neighborhood park. I coach my clients to toss a suspension strap trainer over a sturdy tree branch and use their kids’ swingset. Curbs and bus stop benches become equipment and city blocks lend so conveniently to interval training.

But are outdoor workouts as effective as gym workouts? They can be!

Dumbbells and cardio machines are great, but bodyweight exercises are excellent alternatives. Bodyweight workouts are proven to be very effective at achieving gains in all aspects of fitness – fat loss, muscle growth, increased endurance, better flexibility, and greater power.

Outdoor bodyweight workouts are also extremely convenient – walk out the door and you’re ready to begin! It’s easy to combine cardio and strength training in outdoor workouts, and you can even improve your balance and lower your risk of injury because you’re literally learning to control your body and how it moves through space.

Parkour try-outs, here I come.

Outdoor workouts even eliminate the most common excuses:

“I don’t have time to go to the gym” – solved!

“I don’t have the right equipment” – solved!

But if you love equipment like I do, there are several equipment options that make it easy. I keep a spare set of suspension trainers, stretch bands, and a yoga mat in my car for workouts on the go. Stretch bands are easy to tuck into your suitcase. A weighted vest can take that hill sprint to the next level.

A fitness professional will know how to design efficient and effective outdoor workouts that take advantage of your surroundings and get you closer to your goals.

Walk or run to the park (your warm-up), get your workout on, and walk or run home (your cool-down). BAM – done!

#sweatyselfie time

Make the most of these summer days by exercising outdoors as often as possible. The fresh air and sunshine – and the change from the usual – will do your body good!