Today, successful personal trainers realize the importance of creativity and variety in the design of personal fitness programs. Intuitive trainers know that clients of the 90s won't adhere to boring and monotonous workouts. They understand the importance of designing dynamic programs to keep clients interested and challenged. Outdoor training is an excellent alternative to conventional indoor training sessions, and provides a great solution to programs that lack variety, challenges or a need a change of pace.
With activities such as walking, biking, cross training and functional training, trainers can design an outdoor program for just about anyone—from beginner to advanced clients. Skillful trainers can incorporate weight training and body sculpting activities outdoors without the burden of heavy equipment using functional training concepts. In fact, the great outdoors has many tools the client can use for both exercising and stretching. Trainers must, however, be aware of the responsibilities for clients who train outdoors. Limitations exist as well. But, you and your clients will find outdoor activities to be a fun, fresh and challenging alternative to indoor programs.
Outdoor Training Activities
Walking. Walking is great exercise for any level of fitness, and especially to those limited by light exercise recommendations. Clients who are sedentary, elderly, pregnant, recuperating from or have existing injuries, or other risk factors such as asthma will feel at ease with walking. Take your client outside for a walk instead of an hour on the treadmill. Have them bring a heart rate monitor (or provide one), and don't forget the pedometer and stop watch. Set weekly goals in terms of distance and time.
Use curbs and trees to stretch calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes and lower back. Vary the route taken and add hand weights for variety.
Jogging or Running
Although jogging and running may be more suitable for conditioned clients, walking clients may be interested in progressing up to a light jog. Another option is to try teaching run/walk interval training i.e. walk for three minutes; jog for three minutes. Set a goal of reaching a particular distance or total time. Runners who are training for marathons and races often require the services of a personal trainer as well...so keep your eyes open!
Bicycling, Rollerblading, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, Basketball
Many clients may be interested in learning or enjoying these sports. Accessibility to space and equipment may be limited. Look around the neighborhood for bike trails, tennis courts and parks to use for these activities. Be sure you are familiar with the sports enough to provide general instruction.
Cross training is a combination of exercises completed within one workout or throughout a specific time period. A client may jog, walk and bike for specific amounts of time or on certain days. Cross training is suitable for all levels of conditioning--it is the intensity and duration that differentiates beginner training levels from advanced. The following is a sample of an outdoor cross training program you can design for your clients.
Sample Outdoor Cross Training Workout
(Design a circular route that finishes client at the starting point)
The idea behind functional training is that you do not need machines, heavy equipment or health clubs to get a productive workout. Functional training encourages the use of free weights, medicine balls, body bars, hand weights, wooden boxes, balance boards, hurdles, etc. And, you don't need an indoor environment to participate...parks, stadiums, tracks, open fields, beaches, and tennis courts make great exercise apparatuses for functional training.
|Functional Training Workout
Jog or Bike
Forward / Reverse Lunges or Step-ups
Crunches or Situps
Medicine Ball activities
Push Ups, Pull Ups, Dips
(to a nearby park, stadium, tennis court or track field.)
(use park bench)
(use park bench)
Use Your Environment
A crafty trainer knows that you don't need a health club or expensive equipment to design productive workouts. Assess the outdoor environment around you. A wide tree or the side of a building or house can be used for wall push-ups. Park benches are great for dips and step-ups. Open fields are safe grounds for medicine ball throws, sprints, and walking lunges. Sandy beaches are great for walks, runs, calisthenics and aerobics. Shoot a game of hoop or play a game of tennis--neighborhood schools often have
basketball courts and tennis courts for public use. Hills and mountains intensify walks, jogs and bike rides. Stadium stair climbing is sure to have your client screaming for mercy. Curbs and steps are perfect for stretching calves and quads. Let your creativity emerge!
Considerations of Outdoor Training
When bringing clients outdoors, keep in mind the following trainer responsibilities:
make sure your client is dressed appropriately for the weather insist on proper footwear have sunscreen, water and a towel accessible at all times require the use of a heart rate monitor keep a first aid kit accessible in case of emergency consider bringing a pedometer, stopwatch and whistle.
It is imperative that you plan outdoor workouts carefully, remembering that the client is your responsibility. Be sure to consider the client's risk factors before deciding to take them outside (i.e., if your client is asthmatic, make sure he or she carries an inhaler). The last thing you want is a client bringing suit against you for an asthma attack, a serious sunburn, heatstroke or other accident that occurred during a workout. Check with your liability insurance policy to make sure you are covered outside your facility in the case of a mishap.
Exercising outdoors with clients may not be an option for all trainers. Health club policies may not allow it. Location and environment may not be appropriate. Weather and seasons may also limit possibilities. Liability insurance policies may or may not cover accidents outside the health club, so be sure to check the terms of your policy. Use common sense, and do your homework before bringing clients outdoors.
Outdoor Events and Competitions
Whether or not you are able to train clients outdoors, why not encourage participation in local outdoor events and competitions? Walkathons, races, marathons, triathlons, biathlons, tennis tournaments and other activities promote healthy competition and keep clients working towards goals. Clients will appreciate the opportunity to participate in fitness activities outside their normal routine and will enjoy mingling with fellow fitness buffs in a motivating environment.