I’m a wimp in the winter, especially if there’s any snow or ice on the ground. I once ran 15 miles (FIFTEEN! Not an exaggeration!) on the treadmill because I stupidly agreed to a spring marathon without realizing it meant training through an icy, cold winter, and I couldn’t bring myself to slip and slide on the ice. Needless to say, I am traumatized for life. Maybe that’s why I take any workouts I can outdoors as soon as humanly possible. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels this way which means a plethora of outdoor workouts to choose from. It doesn’t matter if you prefer to go at it alone or if you like a group fitness class – there are options for everyone.
While not everyone is as lucky as I am to live by the famed Rocky steps, any steps (think the local high school or college stadium) or inclines provide a great workout. Combine intervals of running up and down inclines with body weight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, tricep dips or planks! Since doing cardio on an incline TORCHES calories and increases your aerobic capacity, even a short workout will do wonders for you.
Summer is a great time to try some new workouts because so many gyms offer free or majorly discounted classes outdoors during the summer months. One of my favorite local yoga studios, Priya Hot Yoga, offers donation based (at least $5 is suggested) outdoor classes once a month to benefit a local charity. A local park hosts a hip-hop class (free!) every Tuesday during the spring and summer. While you might not be a yogi or dancer yet, you can branch out with your workouts without hurting your wallet.
If you are more of a group fitness warrior, preferring a team mentality to solitude, there are plenty of outdoor boot camps to choose from. Some local gyms will offer summer-long specials for outdoor workouts allowing you to log some workouts without ever setting foot indoors. A few local favorites are Core Fitness and Fit Academy.
If you’re looking for something a little cheaper (aka free) look for a local November Project. With over 40 chapters worldwide, there might be one close to your town. Started in 2011 in Boston, the goal was to keep each other accountable to health during the winter months but a little accountability never hurt in the summer either. After all, how often have you skipped a workout to go to happy hour? Yeah, me too.
New Ways to Commute
A workout doesn’t have to be a dedicated hour of your day. Take advantage of the nice weather by creating a more active commute to work or when running errands. I am about two miles away from my office so I walk when I can. It saves money (when I don’t stop to buy an iced coffee) and adds another 30+ minutes of activity to my day. If you live further away, maybe get off the subway a stop early and walk the rest of the way or jump on a bike. If driving is your only option, use your lunch break for a brisk walk. Since researchers have shown that sitting is just as bad as smoking, any opportunity to get up and move should not be wasted.
The best part about these workouts? You can continue your new habits even when the seasons start to change. Either keep the workouts outside or incorporate the new moves you picked up at boot camp into your regular gym routine. You’ll have had three months to shake off the cabin fever and will have the warm memories of summer to keep you motivated.
What’s your favorite way to take exercise outdoors? Any good classes I need to check out?