Is an outdoor fitness class for you?

Tips for choosing an outdoor fitness class

You’d be forgiven for thinking that outdoor fitness is just an outdoor alternative to a gym class. In reality outdoor fitness classes are not restricted to lines of middle aged participants performing repetitive aerobics under the gaze of a super-toned instructor. There are so many different kinds of outdoor fitness classes to choose from and here is the guide on choosing the right one for you.

Types of class

Outdoor fitness classes are a great and more sociable alternative to spending hours cooped up in a gym and can take many forms.

Aerobics and dance

Many will be the sort of outdoor fitness we will all be familiar with: aerobics style group workouts. These are good for a number of reasons and can be by far the best option for fitness beginners as you will perform routines of exercise which work your cardiovascular (CV) system and will help you gain flexibility. They can also be fairly advanced and sometimes make the use of outdoor apparatus like stairs to allow for strenuous strength building exercises such as lunges. They may also include fun dance elements to get the heart pumping.  

Circuit training

A very useful advantage of taking your workout into the open air is that, with more space, the classes can incorporate a lot of things that would be impossible in a gym. A lot of classes are circuit-style interval training where participants do sprints or even set up mini assault courses to train on. This provides a great CV workout and has focus on agility which is hard to achieve in the confines of a gym. More intense ones may include dragging or moving weights, making for a great all body work out. Another advantage of these classes is the opportunity to integrate team work exercises like relays or group lifting. 

Boot camp

At the moment more and more outdoor fitness sessions are moving to towards highly intense and highly trendy “boot camp” style workouts. These army inspired classes offer participants the chance to get fighting fit and consist of unforgiving,  short but extremely high impact programmes which use traditional stretches and exercises like push-ups, jumping jacks and lunges to heavily work your body. Offering an old-school form of workout, with little use of expensive equipment, they provide a full body workout, combining CV exercises with strength and core building movements.  Boot camp workouts effectively amount to interval training as you work frenetically, take a short break before resuming and often ramp up and drop the intensity at various stages.

Choosing a class

With such variety among the classes you need to make sure you do your research so that you get a class that is right for you and suits your fitness needs. After all, if you’re a rugby player looking for an alternative workout to help build your strength and agility you won’t want to turn up to your session expecting to see boxing pads and tackle bags only to be confronted by three or four rows of petite women doing synchronised aerobics.

We would recommend either going online or heading down to your local gym (who will often be responsible for running the classes) and enquiring about the sessions. There really are loads to choose from so you shouldn’t be stuck for inspiration.

Outdoor fitness classes – quick pros and cons

+More sociable than a solo gym class
+Led by pros so more direction
+Outdoor environment means more space to train in fun ways
+Out in the sun and fresh air

−Time restricted, you can’t really do them in the dark and training in the midday sun is not advisable
− More sociable than a solo gym class – not everyone wants to be sociable!
−Clearly most gym machines cannot be used outside – there are alternatives
−May be pricey if not included in your membership fees

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