Thinking of joining a Gym? You’re not alone, of course. There are plenty of Health Clubs, Fitness Centers, Fit Outdoors and the like… all willing to take your hard-earned cash in exchange for a 12-month contract with their fine establishment. And many of them are indeed fine establishments, equipped with all the latest high tech treadmills, step machines, biking and rowing simulators…you name it.
This is the big business of course, and the marketing spin would have you believe that you need the high tech gadgetry to achieve the total body workout. Some health and fitness centres also have spa and sauna facilities, masseurs for your aches and pains, and personal trainers who will cater for your individual requirements (once you upgrade your membership).
For many, this is the way to go. Especially those who like a bit of eye candy with their arm-curls. The social aspects of fitness centres are well known. It can be a good place to meet Miss or Mister Goodbar, and this is certainly an attraction and a motivator for some. For others, this aspect of the gym scene is a completely unwelcome and has given rise to the numerous women-only fitness centres that now dot the marketplace.
What’s the alternative? It is right outside your front door, and it’s attracting an increasing number of fitness devotees. And it’s known generically as Outdoor Fitness, Park Fitness or any combination or variation of these terms. Outdoor Fitness is being rapidly embraced by fitness devotees who prefer the fresh air of the great outdoors over the sweaty, smelly and often stuffy environments of the local gym.
The advantages of working out in the park are many and varied, and (in no particular order) include:
- Cost savings. No membership fees. No contracts to sign and no worries about your health club going broke. How have many fitness club members lost their money like that?
- Fresh Air. Research has shown that indoor air is at least twice as polluted as outdoor air
- Mind and Body Workout. When you exercise outdoors, your mind has more to engage it, and it is forced to focus differently than it would on a static aerobics pad or weights room.
Getting fit in the Great Outdoors is not new of course. People have enjoyed running, cycling, swimming and everything else for thousands of years (for cycling, substitute chariot racing). What is new and gaining increasing support is the trend for personal or group fitness training conducted by a qualified personal trainer. Group fitness classes are everywhere and it is destined to overtake the popularity of the paid-membership health clubs and gyms in the years to come.
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The challenge is to find a good personal trainer and a fitness group that is a”good fit”. Once you have done that, a decent pair of shoes, functional clothing and some basic fitness equipment is all you need. The rest is free.