Outdoor Workouts

Outdoor Workouts

« Blog | Written by ezfacility | | (0) Comments

I don’t know about you, but now that the long winter finally (finally!) seems to be drawing to a close, all I want is to be outdoors. I want that so badly that I almost, for a very brief second — full disclosure — considered letting my gym membership expire. I’ll just start a new one in September, I thought. It was only a fleeting idea; happily, I know that I get too much from my gym to ever really let go of my membership so easily. But a lot of people don’t know that. A lot of people do exactly what I thought of doing: let their membership slide in the warm months and rejoin (or, worse, join somewhere else) when the cold sets in again.
One way for a gym, or any type of fitness or sports center, to combat this phenomenon is to take things outdoors. In recent years, it’s become more of a trend for health clubs to institute outdoor programs. Large cities hold yoga-in-the-sun classes. Gyms offer boot camp in the park. So-called “street workouts” are becoming more popular, with exercisers using poles, park structures, even swing-sets to build up core muscles and practice other forms of strength training.
If you haven’t yet cashed in on the trend, it’s time to do so. Your audience is hungry for it (google “outdoor workouts” and you’ll see what I mean). The question is, how do you make it work? How do you move operations outside?
Start with an existing class — it’s probably your most portable commodity. Go for a low-key class first, one that doesn’t rely on music or heavy equipment. (Once you get things up and running and you understand how to coordinate outdoor sessions smoothly, it’ll be simple enough to fiddle with sound systems and free weights; til then, keep things easy for yourself.) Think of props that naturally work well outside: balls, jump ropes. Get your instructors to incorporate these items and, if necessary, to modify their routines to suit the outdoors. Of course, promote heavily. Your social media channels should be screaming, “New outdoor class!” The walls of your facility should be littered with posters and flyers. Make sure the logistics are clearly communicated: Will the class meet in the gym lobby and then follow the instructor out? Will there be a meeting point in the park? Spell it out.
Once you’ve seen how it works — and what the potential pitfalls are — think of creating classes specifically for nature. Call upon the expertise of your trainers and instructors; find out their favorite outdoor workouts and ask them to develop these into teachable sessions. Scout out potential locations carefully and make use of what’s out there: trees, old jungle gym sets, park benches. Anything fixed to the ground is fair game.
After you’ve built up an outdoor clientele, think about investing in equipment. Life Fitness recently developed a “jungle gym” series for outside; other companies are following suit. If you’re in a location that doesn’t easily allow for outdoor access, consider doing what my gym in New York City does: use the rooftop. You might have to partner with a school, community center, or other organization that already has outdoor space. (If you’re using parks, keep in mind that many municipalities require permits for the use of public spaces, and often there are restrictions about how existing structures, including trees, can be used. Do your homework.)
Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way. The only thing left to figure out will be how you can sneak into one of your own facility’s outdoor sessions — because once you have the option, there’s no way you’re going to want to stay inside.

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