Choosing locations for your workouts can be a lot of fun. Whether you live in town or out in the country, once you start looking at your environment as a place of opportunity for exercise, so many possibilities come to life! Different environments all have locations and types of props that lend themselves to great workouts. Different environmental landscapes also have their own particular challenges. If you live in the city, you’ll naturally have a different set of factors—and potential hazards—to consider when working out than if you live in the mountains. Depending on where you live, and where you plan to take your outdoor workouts, consider these factors.
Locations: Parks, plazas, playgrounds, stadiums, athletic fields, public walkways and paths, backyards
Props: Benches and tables. Curbs, concrete blocks and walls. Steps, stairs and bleachers. Stop signs, parking meters and lamp posts. Grass, snow mounds and sand pits. Playground apparatus and jungle gyms.
Environmental considerations for the Urban workout:
• Traffic and cars
• Pedestrian traffic
• Air quality: pollution, exhaust, unsavory smells
• Potholes and cracked or uneven concrete streets, sidewalks
• Dogs—and dog debris!
Tip: Download a map of your area. You’ll be surprised by how many parks, pathways and open areas there are that have always been there, you just didn’t know about them!
Locations: Parks, open fields, pastures, orchards and groves, hiking trails, dirt roads, school tracks, backyards.
Props: Trees, fallen logs, hillsides, boulders, riverbeds. Brick retention walls and steps cut into hillsides. Split fences. Grass, gravel, sand, snow, pine needles, leaves.
Environmental considerations for the Rural workout:
• Risk of over-exposure to elements, dust, animals and insects
• Distance from emergency assistance
• Lack of cellular phone coverage
Tip: Try to scout your locations at the same hour of the day in which you plan to exercise there. For example don’t get caught mid-field by the sprinkler system!
Beach and shoreline workouts
Locations: Boardwalks and promenades, piers and docks, jetties, bicycle paths, sandy and rocky shorelines.
Props: Benches and picnic tables. Lifeguard stands. Sea walls. Docking cleats. Firm and soft sand. Sand dunes and shelves. Posts, poles and fences. Driftwood and rocks.
Environmental considerations for Beach and shoreline workouts:
• Fishing from piers or docks (tackle and hooks)
• Tides and waves
• Broken glass and hidden debris in sand
• Sand can lead you to twist joints unintentionally
Tip: Is the Spot Safe? Let common sense be your guide when choosing both locations and props. Always ask yourself: Is this a safe spot for the work I want to do? Scan your environment for dips in the ground, potholes, loose rocks. Make sure you test out your props for stability before performing your exercises. Benches should be stable and well constructed, tree trunks healthy and sturdy, boulders well planted and secure in the ground, before you put your full weight on them in an exercise.
Location: Hiking trails, fire roads, trails that follow and cut across streams, dry river beds, forests, lake shores, parks and campgrounds, mountain meadows.
Props: Boulders, trees, fallen trees, tree stumps, roots and branches. Sandy lake shores. Rock walls. Fences. Ledges. Pine needle and leaf-laden hillsides.
Environmental considerations for Mountain workout:
• Prop safety—rotting logs and tree trunks
• Season/Climate—sudden storms
• Animals, insects
• Sun exposure
Tip: Trail and Traffic Etiquette
When you exercise outdoors, you become part of a community, which consists of the natural world around you and other people who are sharing the experience of the outdoors. Respect and attentiveness keep everyone safe, ensure a peaceful experience for all, and protect the natural environment we’re all out to enjoy.
Here are some dos and don’ts for good behavior on the trail:
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• Respect the quality of the outdoor experience. If you’re working out in a pair or a group, observe quiet—don’t chatter. If you do speak, use a low voice so the natural sound of nature will preside.
• Leave behind what you find. Enjoy the beauty of nature but skip the souvenirs. Leave plants, flowers, rocks, shells and other objects as you found them.
• Help to maintain the trails. Carry a plastic bag to pick up small pieces of trash found along the way.
• Avoid being sideswiped. When merging onto a trail or across a path or road, always look to see if there is oncoming traffic.
• Call out your intentions. When approaching someone on a trail, you must announce your presence and your intentions. “Hi, I’m coming up behind you.” “Passing on your left. Thank you.”
• Passing on the trail. When passing on the trail, be sure to pass on the left or to the outside. If you’re yielding to others, step to the right or the inside of the trail, away from the edge. When being passed on a trail with a drop-off on one side, step to the inside, against the hill.
• Admire the wildlife from a distance. Never approach, feed or touch animals.
• Stay on marked trails. Do not create or erode new ones.