Fitness expert and personal trainer, Matthew Crilly, talks getting fit outdoors!

While most people associate exercise with going to the gym, it is often forgotten that a gym can be constructed by using the landscape and surroundings provided by Mother Nature. Outdoor training not only breaks up the monotony of going to a gym but also provides a great opportunity to obtain a full body workout. For instance, training on uneven terrains like roads, trails or sand will engage more joints and muscles compared to working out on an even surface found indoors.

To begin, survey your neighbourhood for parks, basketball courts, jungle gyms and some benches or concrete blocks to use for steps. These are the elements that will serve to build your outdoor gym. Once you have identified the location of these landmarks allow your creativity to take over as you formulate your workout for the day. For example, start off by jogging to the nearest landmark. If it is a set of stairs, run up and down the stairs 3 times while mixing in push-ups between sets. This is a great interval workout because there is an added intensity of having to climb stairs and perform push-ups, while a short active recovery is built in as you come down the steps. If you come across a jungle gym, try to perform pull ups on the monkey bars. The addition of the pull-ups to your jog adds a great strength movement to your cardio routine. In

the event these types of landmarks are not within reach, you can still get creative. For instance, pick and choose 3-5 body weight exercises such as push-ups, squats, burpees, crunches or lunges. As you begin your run keep an eye on your watch. Every 5 minutes stop and perform 15 reps of a given move and then continue your run. Incorporating these simple body weight exercises to a normal jog keeps you engaged and provides an extra challenge.


For the fitness enthusiasts out there really looking to ramp up the intensity in their workout, find a track or park and perform the following: 400m run, 20 burpees, 20 push ups and 20 body weight squats. Set a timer and see how long it takes you to complete 4 sets. This is both physically and mentally demanding, since you will have to push yourself for the best time possible. Although fatigue will be sure to set in, it is clear that in order to achieve your best possible score you will have to minimize any rest. This is when you will have to be mentally strong and persevere until you’ve completed the routine. If you are extremely determined and are looking for an additional twist, perform the same workout with a 10-20 lb weighted vest.

The fact that Mother Nature provides a gym that is accessible essentially 24-hours a day and is just a few simple steps outside your front door eliminates any excuse to get active. Remember, it is imperative that exercise is an emphasized component of an individual’s daily commitments. The current physical activity guidelines from the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP) recommend that adults reach at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity exercise per week to obtain health benefits. Despite the presence of physical activity guidelines and strong scientific evidence supporting the health benefits achieved with exercise, an astounding 85% of Canadians do not meet the minimum physical activity recommendations. This is a major concern since four of the five leading risk factors for death, including high blood pressure, high blood glucose, physical inactivity and obesity, are strongly associated with physical inactivity.

Your health is important and should be a priority. Remember, there is no such thing as perfection, only perfect effort.