How to Take Your Workout Outside – And Why You Should
The gym is your office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take your office outside. Exercising outdoors provides a host of benefits, from increased energy and mood to jump-starting your creativity for designing training programs.
On days when your workouts, or those for your clients, have some flexibility, change things up and go outside. Use the gym parking lot, a local park, or any other space that makes sense. Both you and your clients will enjoy the fresh air and change of pace.
Reasons to Take Your Workout Outside the Gym
For you or for your client, there are several good reasons to go outside for training every once in a while. When the weather is nice, getting active outdoors is a mood booster. Exercising outside provides a nice change of pace too, especially if you’re always in the same gym. Here are some of the best reasons to go outdoors to train.
Improve Your Mental Health
Exercise is beneficial for mental health, but getting active outdoors is an even bigger boost. Being exposed to sunlight, for instance, improves mood and increases vitamin D levels. It’s not just the sun, though. From research, we know that when people exercise outside, they generally have more fun, are more relaxed, and experience less mental and physical fatigue.1
Take Your Workout Outside to Avoid Burnout
It’s easy to get bored with workouts and burned out on them when you’re doing the same thing over and over again. Another gym lifting session? Yet another 30 minutes on the elliptical? To restart your interest in training, or more crucially your clients’, change things up by going outside. Even if you do the same basic workout, doing it in a different setting, in fresh air and sunshine, can reboot your enthusiasm for it.
Outdoor Training Allows for More Creativity
As a trainer designing workouts for clients, you may sometimes come up against a mental block. You feel like you’re doing the same things all the time. What you need is a little jolt of creativity and inspiration. When working out in parks and other outdoor spaces you have different surfaces and structures to work with, and that forces you to get creative. You’ll start coming up with new ideas.
More Space for Group Sessions
If you’re training a group, the gym can get a little cramped. You may be fighting other groups or individuals working out for space. Take the session outside if it makes sense, and you’ll have all the space you need.
If you’ve always wanted to try running a boot camp, check out this ISSA post that will give you everything you need to know to get started.
Foolproof Ways to Transition Exercise Outside
Sometimes you can simply take your indoor workout and do it outside. Other times there may be specific indoor equipment you need that will require some thoughtful adaptations for going outdoors. It all depends on the program.
The best way to do more training outside is to go out for sessions that are flexible. For instance, it’s easier to adapt outdoors for general cardio than for specific weight training sessions. Here are some ideas to help you plan some great outdoor programs for you or for your clients.
There are few workouts simpler than a run. For a cardio day, instead of hitting the treadmill or elliptical, get outside and hit the pavement. It could be just a warm-up jog to start a training session or a more involved workout. For example, you can use running outside as a HIIT workout for big cardio gains and calorie blasting.
Simple Outdoor HIIT Workouts
You can also do a HIIT workout outdoors that doesn’t involve running. Use moves like pushups, high knees, squats and squat jumps, lunges, burpees, bear crawls, planks, and others that don’t require gym equipment.
Find the Hills
Hill sprints are great for cardio workouts and leg strength. If you have a hill near the gym, or if you can meet at a park, push your clients to run up hills for a fun, challenging workout. An open stadium and a park with steps are other options if your area isn’t hilly.
Create Obstacle Courses
If your clients aren’t having fun anymore, turn an outdoor training session into a playground. Create an outdoor obstacle course using playground structures, lawn games, tires, and whatever else you have on hand. Just make it fun, so your clients will enjoy it while also improving agility, speed, and strength.
Always Have a Backup
You can plan the best, most fun outdoor workout, but you can’t control everything. The weather may not cooperate, or your client may have a nagging pain and doesn’t want to risk going too far from the gym. Just be sure that you have a backup or go-to session that you can do in the gym to accommodate the unforeseen roadblocks.
Here are some additional ideas for workouts you can do anywhere, inside or outdoors.
Keep Clients Safe Outside
If you are thinking of taking your training clients outside for a workout, you’ll both enjoy the benefits. But, there are safety considerations and practical factors to keep in mind:
- Watch the weather and avoid getting stuck out in a thunderstorm or intense heat.
- If it’s hot outside, make sure everyone has water.
- Remind clients to bring sunscreen, and depending on the location, bug spray.
- Make sure you’re out of the range of cars and traffic.
- Consider having your clients sign a release waiver for outside sessions, or include a paragraph about outdoor training risks in your standard waiver.
The simple step of going outdoors to do a training session can have so many benefits. It can reinvigorate your clients and get them excited about working out again. An hour outdoors can boost everyone’s mood and help you unleash your training creativity.
Check out the ISSA’s Group Fitness Instructor Certification to get started in training small groups and add another offering to your personal training skillset.
1Thompson Coon, J., Boddy, K., Stein, K., Whear, R., Barton, J., and Depledge, M.H. (2011). Does participating in physical activity in outdoor natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environ. Sci. Technol., 45(5), 1761-72. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21291246