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Mar 27, 2012

Outdoor Exercises to Keep in Shape

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Is it just me, or does it seem like memberships at gyms have quadrupled since, well, just last fall? Chock it up to sneaking in a few too many chocolate bars for Valentine’s Day or hibernating during this winter, but it seems like everyone’s trying to work it all off double time at the gym before bathing suit season gets here. Whatever the case, it sure makes it hard to find a treadmill easily. (Surely I can’t be the only one frustrated with fighting the crowds at the gyms now, can I?)

So this past weekend, with the help of “Tina Vindum’s Outdoor Fitness” book, I opted to take my regular workout routines outside of the gym and hit the streets and trails in my own neighborhood. And it was, literally, a breath of fresh air! So refreshing, in fact, that I’m sharing here two of my favorite routines:

Routine 1: Root Raise

  • What it does: strengthen your shins and ankles (specifically, the tibialis anterior), works ankle stability and balance.
  • What you need (prop): a tree root, curb, parking lot block, or step.
  • Starting position: Get in the athletic stance position: feet shoulder-width apart, weight distributed evenly, shoulder’s square with your shoulder blades drawn slightly together to open your chest. From the athletic stance, place your heels on the prop, with your toes hanging over the side. Stand tall and keep your hands in your peripheral vision.
  • Action: Keeping your legs nearly straight, but not locked, lift and lower your toes, using full range of motion in your ankles. Avoid holding on to anything for balance.
  • Focal points: For stability, imagine a large flashlight beaming light from your center of mass (below your navel) out into the distance at least 10 to 15 feet in front of you. Keep your eyes on the beam of light.

Routine 2: Push It-Pull It

  • What it does: all-around strengthener and toner, works core, triceps, rhomboids, pectorals, deltoids, and latissimus dorsi.
  • What you need (prop): flat ground, step, bench, tabletop.
  • Starting position: Place your hands on the prop just a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Step back with your feet just wider than shoulder-width to a distance that elongates your backside in a straight line from your heels to your head.
  • Action: Inhale as you slowly lower your body until your midchest is a few inches from the prop. Pause. Exhale as you press up, pulling your right arm up with you and bringing your wrist up to your lowest rib, allowing your elbow to brush by. Pause. Return your right hand to the ground as you inhale and lower your body. Repeat with the left arm. Alternate arms.
  • Focal points: Think “write to ribs,” keeping your wrist and elbow closer to your low ribs as you pull. Keep your midchest in line with your hands.

Are you feeling the burn already? I sure did! But the best part? No crowds! I could get used to this. I may just have to spend that money I was spending on my gym membership on something more worthwhile—like a new pair of running shoes.

What kinds of outdoor exercises do you do to keep in shape?

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