Take It Outside: Converting Your Gym Workout to Outdoor Exercise

It’s a good time to give the gym a break. How to get a workout without your favorite machines

By + More

Everyone gets into fitness ruts. Mine is the gym; I go several times a week. I occasionally shake up my routine, but the surroundings—same workout equipment, same jockeying for position in the stretching area, same woman with the bobblehead running style on the treadmill—get old. It’s embarrassing that it took me until halfway through the unusually cool New York summer to realize that I don’t need the gym to get a great workout.

On a recent Tuesday morning, my boyfriend and I headed over to the playing field a few blocks away. At our disposal: a baseball diamond on artificial turf, a high bar perfect for pull-ups, and a bench. Inspired by this Men’s Health video we found online, we designed a workout that certainly felt as if it covered the major muscle groups:

  • Planks and side planks, a set of pull-ups for Dan and modified pull-ups for me, and then a set of one-legged knee bends with the nonstanding leg bent back, resting on a bench.
  • A sprint across the field, then an easy walk back.
  • We did that three times through, then repeated the pattern but with new exercises. This time we did several variations on push-ups, then sit-ups or crunches, and finally step-ups onto the bench.
  • Once again, we did sprints in between each set of three exercises.
  • Dan reported his leg muscles got a particularly great workout. (Plus, he could flash back to his high school days of doing football drills.) I was enamored of the soft running surface and the fact that our only competition for its use was a ball-chasing dachshund. And we both loved the breeze off New York Harbor; it sure beat the collection of smells at the gym. Most important, we had fun, which is pretty much a guarantee that we’ll keep it up.

    [Here are 6 ways to motivate yourself to get off the couch. And check out our 10-week workout routine.]