Take Your Workout Outdoors

If you feel stifled by your workout routine in the gym, it's time to head outside.


By Lorna Georgiou


Stuck in a fitness rut? Tired of the same gym walls, rules and faces? Then it’s time to add the ‘out’ to your work. It doesn’t matter whether you live in the city or the sticks it’s possible to burn calories, get stronger, feel energised and most importantly have fun by taking your workout sessions outside.

Below you’ll find some examples of my favourite outside switch ups:

SWAP Yoga to paddleboard yoga

You’re not a celebrity these days unless you’ve been papped on holiday gliding over the water on a paddleboard. And if those with the world’s best trainers on speed dial are trying it, there must be something in it right? Right! A study of elite and recreational paddle boarders found had they had increased levels of both aerobic (ability to use the cardiovascular system for energy) and anaerobic fitness (ability to use the energy stored in muscles for power), as well as improved balance.

Paddle boarding involves the boarder maintaining an upright position on a 9ft plus board as they propel themselves with a paddle through water. Doing yoga on the board adds an extra challenge as you are required to move through a series of yoga postures whilst staying balanced on the board. It can take some getting used to but your core will be rock solid once you do.

You don’t need to live near the ocean to become a paddleboard sensation, lots of classes take place at lakes and reservoirs. Find out more here.

SWAP the pool for open water

The thought of jumping into freezing cold water in the winter might fill you with dread but there are many reasons why you should try to grin and bear it. I spoke with Lottie Shelton, swim manager for a well known international fitness brand and outdoor swimming enthusiast who says; “Swimming in the wild is not just an exhilarating experience it’s also a great way to take your training up a gear. You’re less likely to get bored in an open water swim, meaning you’ll be happy going for longer distances resulting in more calories burnt. Just make sure you have your wetsuit on because the water can be dangerously cold.”

One of the great reasons to try open water swimming is variety, even if you’re in the same waters you’ll never have the same swim twice as the weather, currents and choppiness can all change in a matter of minutes.

Although there can be risks, ranging from currents and tides to water cleanliness and motorised sports, if your aim is to enter a triathlon one day, training in open waters, just like those used in races, is a must.

Warning: There are many reasons you might need someone with you even if they are only watching from the shore. The shock of the cold water, fatigue and injury can all make your body seize up whilst swimming so don’t try this alone, join an organised swimming group. Find out more here.

SWAP the gym for Park Circuits

Working out in the wild doesn’t mean you’ll need a wild spending habit to match. There are lots of free options available. Many parks have outdoor gyms with specialist equipment that resembles the machines you’ll see in your local gym such as elliptical machines and pull up bars.

Don’t worry if your park doesn’t have any outdoor apparatus; make use of what it does have. Parks have lots of things readily available that you can use to aid your workout. I spoke with personal trainer Carrie Luxembourg who specializes in weight loss and both pre and postnatal exercise. Carrie says; “I love taking clients to their local outdoor space. I use benches for jumps and tricep dips, hills for sprints and take a mat for cooling down and stretching whilst gazing at the sky.”

Try it, you’ll feel like a child playing on the swings again and forget the fact that you’re actually working out. Check out my top 3 park exercises below.

Bench press ups

Equipment? Bench

Why? Targets the muscles in your chest and your arms

How? Find a bench that hits your legs at the midpoint between your knees and hips. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder distance apartmaking sure your shoulders are directly over your hands. Step back from the bench, so that you are in a straight line from your feet to your hands.

As you inhale, bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle whilst lowering your body towards the bench. Exhale and use the muscles in your chest and arms to push yourself back up to a starting position. Perform at least 10 repetitions before taking a short break. Do another two sets of 10 repetitions of the exercise.

Step Toe Tap

Equipment? A Step

Why? Great for working your lower body and getting in some cardio!

How? Stand a couple of feet away from your step (close enough so that your leg has a slight bend at the knee during the move).

Place one foot on the step and then quick as you can jump it off switching the other foot up at the same time. As you start to move faster only tap your toes on the step rather than your whole foot. Do as many as you can on each leg rest and repeat.

Swing Row

Equipment? A swing

Why? This move will hit the muscles in your upper back giving you better posture.

How? Stand facing a swing and hold the chains with your arms straight out from chest.

Lean back until your body forms a 45-degree angle to the ground. Keeping shoulders away from your ears, pull your body forwards towards your hands. Keep your elbows tucked in. Slowly lower back to the starting position.

There are lots of ways you can adapt your current workout to make it suit the great outdoors. Love intervals on the running machine? Try trail running where you run and hike over mountainous terrain. Or if you are looking to master your pull up technique, rock climbing will give you a great upper body workout. And if you’re just after a bit of fun, obstacle runs such as Spartan runs are a great way of challenging yourself with like-minded individuals, if you’re brave enough!!!

Lorna Georgiou is a personal trainer and group exercise instructor from London, specialising in post injury and weight loss training. Lorna has written for newspapers and magazines and is just as happy covered in paper and words as she is in sweat and a smile after a session. With a passion for outdoor training, Lorna’s favourite ways to stay fit involve anything from running with her dogs to paddle boarding in open waters. Lorna loves observing how a weight loss or fitness journey can affect people, improving not only their physical, but also their mental health and ultimately transforming lives.

Main Photo Credit: GaudiLab/; Second Photo Credit: Harry Powell/; Third Photo Credit: Stefan Holm/; Fourth Photo Credit: Syda Productions/; Fifth Photo Credit: Sarah Cheriton-Jones/; Sixth Photo Credit: Viacheslav Nikolaenko/; Seventh Photo Credit: Nuk2013/