Gym memberships are expensive, and it’s often more fun to get outdoors and work out in the sunshine than it is to stay inside a gym. With this in mind, we’ve compiled some of the best ways to turn your park into a gym.
Don’t overlook the playground
Parks often have playgrounds, and playgrounds are often filled with bars of all different varieties — jungle gym, anyone? Work some pull-ups into your routine by hanging from a jungle gym, pull up bar, or even a sturdy, sturdy tree limb: pull yourself up until your chin is higher than your hands, and then repeat. Pull-ups are some of the best upper-body exercises because they work many muscles at once; primarily the lats and biceps.
To work your triceps, shoulders and chest, move to the parallel bars and raise yourself up to an initial position — your arms should be extended, and supporting the entire weight of your body. Next, lower yourself to a final position where your elbows are bent and your shoulders are mildly stretched; typically until your upper arms are parallel to the ground. To add more of an abdominal component, perform a dip, raise your legs straight out in front of you as high as you can, and hold.
Look out for overhead parallel bars or rings and attempt to “walk” your way back and forth; swinging as you go. This will build both arm, back and core strength.
Skip the sitting, but use the benches
1. Power Pledge
Leave the sitting to someone else, and turn a park staple into a base for several exercises. To work your chest, shoulders, triceps and abs, stand approximately three feet behind a bench with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on the back of the bench slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and bend your elbows to lower yourself toward the bench. Keep your abs tight as you press off and bring your hand off the bench to touch the opposite shoulder.
Lunges are one of the best exercises for toning your lower body, and a park bench provides a solid base for this classic move. Stand with your back to your chosen bench, and reach one foot back to rest it, toes down, on the bench. Hop forward until this leg is outstretched, and you’re balancing on one foot. Bend your forward leg into a lunge so your leg is at a 90-degree angle, but make sure you don’t go further and move your knee past your toes.
3. Toe Tap
To shape up — and to feel the burn in your abs, obliques and hip flexors! — turn to this exercise. To begin, sit on the edge of the bench and place your palms behind you on the seat with your fingers forward. Lean back slightly and lift legs off the ground, keeping the knees bent at 90 degrees. Then, keeping your right knee raised, touch the ground with left toe, then raise left knee back to start position. Switch sides.
Find the court
To begin, look for an empty tennis, racquetball, or basketball court. If you find a court without markings, set up markers yourself with a water bottle, jacket or even keys; doing your best to make six lines, six yards apart. Start at the first line and sprint to the second, bend down and touch the line with your hand then return to your starting mark and touch that line. Then sprint to the second line, touch it and sprint back to the start. Continue this pattern of touching the next furthest line until you have touched all the lines and returned to your starting mark. Make sure to properly warm up with some jogging and light sprinting before attempting.
This lateral motion warms up your glutes, hip flexors, quads, calves, and hamstrings and can be a great cardio workout if done quickly. It also helps to increase agility and coordination. To work your core, choose to shuffle longer distances: This will force you to perform the exercise longer and to hold your core tight for longer durations. Remember to keep your chest up and feet straight as you extend one leg to the side of your body and shuffle the other leg toward it.