Get in Shape: 5 Gym Alternatives to Try This Summer

With summer in full swing, why subject yourself to the stuffy gym when you could work up a sweat outside? Not only is working out in the great outdoors a way to take advantage of nice weather, but as it turns out, it’s better for your mental well-being. Some recent studies have shown that people tend to have lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) after exercising outside compared to indoors. Other studies have shown that participants who head to nature for their workout exercise more efficiently than at the gym and enjoy the activity more. In fact, another study in Scotland found exercising outdoors had a 50% more positive effect on mental health than going to the gym. With all of these added health bonuses, why wouldn’t you want to head outside for a side of vitamin D with your workout? If you’re looking for new ways to get outside for some blood-pumping activities, consider trying one of these popular gym alternatives this summer.

1. Obstacle Course Racing

obstacle course, race, mud run, exercise

Source: iStock

Whether it’s a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race, there’s no doubt that Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) has seen a huge spike in popularity over the past few years. Which makes sense considering it’s way more exciting than your typical cardio/weights combo at the gym. OCRs can include anything from wall-climbing to traversing bodies of water to jumping through fire! So if you’re looking for a new way to test your dexterity and strength (both mental and physical), consider signing up for a local OCR. Luckily for your summer workout schedule, the fitness demands of this race aren’t limited to the OCR itself. In order to achieve peak performance on race day, you’ll need to train a significant amount (outdoors of course) in advance. Try this pre-OCR workout from Men’s Fitness to get you pumped and ready for your moment in the spotlight… or mud.

2. Jump Rope

sporty man jumping rope outdoors

Source: iStock

Think jump rope is just a playground pastime for your kids? Well consider this: Jumping rope is a great cardio workout, tones muscle, and kills calories! In fact, in only fifteen minutes, jump roping burns off the calories of a candy bar, according to WebMd. It’s no wonder classes like Punk Rope have become so popular recently; jump roping is a convenient and effective way to get in shape. Since this handy workout tool is as portable as equipment comes, you can take your jump rope routine anywhere. Consider picking one of these seven jump rope workouts from Huffington Post, buying a jump rope, and heading to your local park to get in shape while enjoying some fresh air.

3. Military Style Bootcamp

Bootcamps are a prime way to get a high-intensity workout while enjoying the great outdoors. As WebMD points out, bootcamps are a great option since they keep you accountable with a group of people. Interacting and receiving encouragement from peers, along with a healthy dose of competition, is a sure way to reach your fitness goals. Look into bootcamps like Barry’s, or any local group to get you started on your path to the perfect summer beach bod. And speaking of the beach…

4. Beach Workout

beach volleyball

Source: iStock

What better location for a workout in the summer than the beach? If you’re lucky enough to live close to the coast, why not take advantage of the beautiful setting? Between S.U.P, surfing, running on the sand, or swimming in the sea, you have many options for a great way to tone your body while enjoying summer weather. But if you’d rather stay on the shore, go for this routine from Men’s Fitness or BodyBuilding.com for a killer beach workout.

5. Biking (Outside of SoulCycle)

Just because indoor spinning classes are all the rage right now, doesn’t mean your biking workout needs to stay stationary. Instead, take your bike outside for a spin! Livestrong says that cycling for one hour, even at a leisurely pace, burns about 280 calories. So if you gear up the speed, you’ll reach even better calorie-burn potential. Check out one of these one-hour cycling challenges from Active.com to make your next cycling excursion a bit more exciting.

More from Health & Fitness Cheat Sheet: