As the first days of spring bring mild temperatures and more colorful landscapes, it’s an inviting time to take your exercise outdoors. Whether you’re looking for a high-intensity workout to reach new goals or a gentle yoga class to clear your mind, getting into nature will yield a number of health benefits.
“Exercising outside can be much more mentally stimulating than a gym,” says Kim Castro, Health and Wellness Coordinator for the YMCA at Camp Moody, a new facility opening in March along the banks of Onion Creek in Buda.
Set on 85 pristine acres, the YMCA at Camp Moody offers memberships, group classes and personal training programs that take full advantage of the camp’s natural beauty. Castro says the outdoors provide several additional benefits by forcing your body to adapt to changing terrain. You can improvise on trails, fields, hills and even in the water.
“Going outdoors is also a great way to make exercising a family activity,” Castro says. “Bring them along for a hike or kayaking trip, or even let them join a class.”
So if you’re thinking of ditching the treadmill for a trail, there’s really not much downside to it, as long as you remember to dress appropriately, hydrate properly and wear sunblock.
Boot camp workouts generally include an intense mix of aerobic, strength training and speed elements within each class session. In most cases, you can expect to do calisthenics, such as pushups, lunges and crunches, as well as drills and sprints. Be sure to rotate stations quickly in between and repeat five times
Before signing up, ask how the program is structured and if there are any prerequisites to assess whether it will be a good fit for you.
The warm-up is one of the most important parts of any workout. Our bodies need lubrication before they can start moving without risking muscle strains and other compensation injuries. Start off with an easy five-minute jog to get the kinks worked out.
Just a few minutes with a battle rope will give you a burst of cardio along with a full-body workout. A variety of movements will strengthen your abs, arms and shoulders, as well as activate your leg muscles. The movement pictured here is a double-wave alternating arm raises to move the rope, emphasizing shoulder, back and grip strength.
Stand with feet hip-width apart in a shallow squat. Grip one end of the rope in each of your hands. Tighten your core, and move each rope up and down. Alternate arm lifts and try to maintain a steady rhythm.
Kettlebells are so popular because they provide such an efficient way to exercise. Kettlebell swings help build strength, increase your heart rate and burn fat. They’re especially valuable in building strength throughout your posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, etc).
To execute a kettlebell swing, stand with feet set wider than shoulder-width and bend your knees to grab the kettlebell with both hands. Drive your hips, keep your back flat and swing the weight up to shoulder height. Return to the start position and repeat without losing momentum.
Coming in a variety of shapes, sizes, weights and constructions, medicine balls offer a low-impact option to build strength and explosive power.
Medicine ball squat throws (pictured here) are a powerful way to build core strength and vertical explosiveness. Start in a standing position in front of a wall or with a partner. Hold a medicine ball at chest height. Squat down as low as possible, powerfully ascend up, and throw the ball up overhead. Let the ball hit a wall or catch it. Squat back down and repeat the movement.
An old-school, full-body functional exercise, burpees were created by Royal Burpee at the YMCA in New York City nearly 100 years ago. Exercise sequence: Squat, place palms on the ground, extend legs into a plank, perform a pushup, fold legs back into a low squat, jump up, smile.
Including sprints in your workout is a great way to increase your stamina and burn a lot of calories in a short time. It is an excellent cardiovascular exercise and can boost your metabolism as well as regulate your fat burning hormones.
Finish off your routine with a side plank, which is a great way to strengthen the oblique abdominal muscles. Hold your body on your side in a straight position supported only by one arm and the side of one foot.
Pro Tip: Be sure to end your workout with a light jog to cool down as well as with some light stretching or restorative yoga.