After a few dark, chilly winter months, PTs and their clients can’t wait to inject some variety into their workouts and get some much-needed fresh air. If your clients are as tired of being confined to the four walls of a gym as you are, why not replace it with the fresh air and beauty of the great outdoors?
It’s time to explore the exciting world of open-air workouts and how to build fun, energizing programs that cover all bases, ensuring that you and your clients can enjoy the best of outdoor fitness training.
Benefits of Open-Air Workouts
Before we dive into creating the perfect outdoor fitness program, let’s discuss the numerous benefits of open-air workouts for both you and your clients:
- Improved mental health: Outdoor exercise has been proven to boost mood, reduce stress, and increase overall mental well-being.
- Enhanced physical health: Sun exposure during outdoor workouts leads to increased vitamin D levels, essential for overall health and bone strength.
- Diversified training: Outdoor workouts offer a vast array of exercise options that may not be available indoors, such as hill sprints or trail running.
- Increased enjoyment: Clients tend to enjoy outdoor workouts more than indoor ones, leading to greater consistency and improved long-term results.
If you build it, they will come.
Let’s get down to designing a flexible and comprehensive outdoor fitness program that’s as much fun as it is effective.
- Assess your client’s needs and goals.
Before designing any fitness program, it’s essential to understand your client’s needs, goals, and current fitness level. Take the time to perform a thorough assessment and discuss their preferences for outdoor activities. Remember to be patient. Keep in mind that for some, open air workouts are second nature, while for others, outdoor activity can be an entirely new approach to physical exercise.
- Choose a suitable outdoor location.
The perfect outdoor workout location should offer diverse terrain and ample space for various activities. Consider local parks, beaches, or hiking trails when scouting for suitable workout spots.
- Warm-up and mobility exercises.
Every workout program should begin with a proper warm-up and mobility exercises. Outdoor settings provide a perfect opportunity to incorporate dynamic movements like high knees, leg swings, or arm circles. Encourage clients to perform these exercises on soft surfaces like grass or sand to minimize impact.
- Incorporate functional strength exercises.
Outdoor workouts offer plenty of opportunities to incorporate functional strength exercises using your client’s body weight or portable equipment. Some examples include:
- Push-ups or bench dips on park benches
- Pull-ups on monkey bars
- Squats and lunges using a TRX suspension trainer, or just a solid rope
- Planks or mountain climbers on the grass
- Any exercise modifications you can think of that safely fit the environment and the client.
- Don’t forget cardio!
Open air workouts are ideal for implementing cardiovascular training. For instance, design interval training sessions by incorporating sprints, hill climbs, or stair runs. Additionally, you can use natural obstacles like rocks, logs, or sand dunes for added intensity. Just remember to keep it safe and don’t push too hard.
- Include balance and flexibility exercises.
Outdoor settings often provide uneven surfaces, which can help improve balance and flexibility. Use tree stumps or rocks for single-leg balance exercises or have clients perform yoga-inspired stretches on a soft surface. The sky’s the limit!
- Cool down and recovery.
To wrap up an open-air workout session, encourage clients to perform a cool-down consisting of light static stretches and deep breathing exercises. This will help bring their heart rate down and promote recovery.
- Monitor progress and adjust the program.
Regularly assess your client’s progress and adjust the program accordingly. This may involve increasing the intensity, changing exercises, or incorporating new outdoor activities to keep things fresh and exciting.
A Word on Safety
The regular reader knows I always stress safety above all else. While outdoor workouts offer countless benefits, it’s essential to keep it in mind, and by that I’m talking about prevention:
- Always check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Dress in layers and wear appropriate footwear for the terrain and conditions.
- Ensure that the workout area is free from hazards like rocks, holes, or debris.
- Remind clients to stay hydrated.
As the outdoor fitness adventure continues, make sure to regularly assess your client’s progress and adjust the program to keep them engaged and on the path to success. This may involve cranking up the intensity, introducing new exercises, or incorporating fresh outdoor activities to ensure there’s never a dull moment in their fitness journey. By embracing the great outdoors, you’ll not only transform your clients’ health and well-being but also create unforgettable experiences that keep them coming back for more. So, let’s bid farewell to the humdrum gym life and embark on a thrilling open air workout odyssey – here’s to conquering the great outdoors, one epic session at a time!