It’s summer time. And even if the livin’ still ain’t easy with the constant demands of work and life, there are some nice ways to break from the humdrum patterns of the other 9 months of the year.
This summer, my coach got me working out in a park. I live near the Hudson River, so admittedly, that’s a pretty great place to time a few planks on a patch of green grass. But one day, we just used a paved courtyard to dead lift medicine balls and jump squat onto benches. Even that was pretty great.
It was a big step for me! I am a creature of habit, and my gym couldn’t be closer to my home (across the street). But I’m so glad I stayed open-minded to the idea. What makes it worth it? Here are a few points…
There’s a lot of color! Usually, gyms offer mostly black, grey, and white. Even just a bit of blue sky, some greenish hedges, and, if lucky, a garden of flowers can make me feel like staying out longer to burn and strengthen. My endorphins latched onto the natural colors and left me feeling even more upbeat than usual.
No ceiling and no walls! Runners who get off the treadmill know this best of all. But doing body strength or lifting exercises regularly, it can be easy to forget that there’s a world out there beyond the 5 square feet in which I’m lunging. That same contained exercise in an open field showered me with a sense of freedom. Unshackle yourself from the gym and do those mountain climbers … on a mountain (or at least a grassy knoll).
Space is more varied. My coach and I moved from one area to another as we desired – sometimes it gave us a view of the water, sometimes it took us under the shade of the tree. We even used a big metal sculpture of a bottle to do some medicine ball throws. Our brains re-awaken whenever we make some change – even the smallest amount. I worked out better by varying my space and environment from exercise to exercise. As a teacher who knows that my kids like to keep moving to learn, it’s really the same for us adults.
Get an extra training boost by working out on new terrain. Without even realizing I might be doing burpees with a slight elevation. My body is used to the set up at my gym so it’s probably re-working the same aspect of each muscle group, again and again. But I jumped up to run across rocks of different heights and angles. All these variations lit new parts of each muscle. My body will thank me.
The sweat feels more natural. And burns more. At least, it felt like it did. Maybe it was just that I kept going outside with more enthusiasm! The sweat drops from an outdoor workout feel more cathartic. Get those toxins out and then let a passing breeze cool you down.
Take a deep breath! The air in the gym can definitely get stale. Take a deep breath between sets. Pick a day that has a breeze to make sure those nearby car fumes (if you are in NYC) keep moving along.
Enjoy a sunset… there’s nothing like tying a band around a tree to do some bent over rows with a glimpse of the sunset in the distance. (And for you morning folks – why not catch the sunrise?)
See you outside!