Take advantage of free workout opportunities circa July 5-11, 2012; Seminole Chronicle
No gym membership? Not a problem. Create your own gym outside with outdoor equipment and simple exercises.
Many parks in Central Florida have fitness equipment along shady paths, some with a beautiful view of a lake. Other parks have playground equipment, park benches and swings. Not only can taking advantage of these resources save money, it will also make for scenic workouts.
Want a full body workout? Lake Mills Park in Chuluota has a Parcourse FitCircuit, a series of 15 exercises along a jogging and walking path. Each station has an instructional sign that describes and illustrates specific exercises. The circuit begins with warm-ups and stretching and then challenges you with more demanding exercises along the path. It also features a cool-down period to wrap up the workout.
For a lower body work-out, use the steps that lead up to a slide to perform lunges and step-ups. For a higher intensity, plyometric moves on the steps, such as toe taps and box jumps, will get your heart pumping. Begin performing the plyometrics for a period of 15 seconds. Over time, graduate to 30 seconds with a 15-second rest period between sets.
Continue your leg workout by using a swing to perform suspended lunges. These are done in the same manner as a split lunge, except the front of one foot will be placed on the seat of the swing behind you instead of on the ground. Not strong enough for a pull up? Strengthen the back muscles by using two swings for inverted rows. By practicing the flexed arm hang and negative pull-ups on the monkey bars, along with the inverted rows, you will achieve the perfect pull-up.
Park benches can be used for triceps bench dips and decline pus-ups. If you are a beginner, start with the incline push-up on the bench.
Looking for a new way to train the abdominal muscles? Use a swing for high planks, jackknives and a pike. Work the abs and oblique muscles with hanging knee raises to the front and sides from the monkey bars. Be sure to perform these moves by keeping your abs tight and the movements slow and controlled.
If you have no knee, hip or black issues, have a good aerobic base, or are a runner who would like to take their workout to a different level, I suggest stair running. Be sure to begin with a proper warm-up. Run up the stairs as fast as you can, using the balls of you feet rolling down to the heel, being careful not to land on your toes. Walk back down and repeat three to five times. Running every other step, lateral running, both left and right side, and crossovers are other ideas of stair running. In between running the stairs, add jump squats, walking lunges and push ups for an additional challenge. If you feel uncomfortable running up the stairs, try climbing every other step.
Finish by stretching the muscles you worked: quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
As you can see, there are numerous ways to turn outdoor equipment into a full-body workout - no gym membership required or the purchase of trendy new equipment.
Step outside into your own outdoor gym!
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From January 2012 thru May of 2013 I was the Seminole Chronicle's Fitness Columnist. Here you will find all of my published articles.