Outdoor Training; The New Normal
Well my friends, it’s hard to believe, but summer is upon us! And warmer weather means people will be spending more and more time outside, especially due to the current Covid- 19 pandemic and having spent so much time inside. Since most gyms are still not open to the public, this also means that even more people will be working out outside. Even when things do open back up again, some people may still not feel comfortable enough going back to the gym. Therefore, training outside may indeed be the new normal. Outdoor training is a great option but there are some precautions that should be taken, and I’ve decided to cover them in this article.
1. Use sunscreen! This may seem very obvious, but it’s surprising how many people still forget to protect themselves. Sunburns can often times be serious, especially if you have fair skin like me. Most workouts last 30- 60 minutes, and that’s a long time to spend in the sun. Depending on your own skin tone/ condition, choose the appropriate SPF, and lotion up before you head outside. The summer sun is no joke.
2. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. No, I don’t mean go to the bar, I mean drink water and plenty of it! When training outside, you will be sweating- a lot, so it’s even more important to be concerned with your hydration level. Drink water before, during, and after your workout, even if you don’t feel thirsty. And if it’s particularly hot outside, I do recommend cold water, which leads me to point 3.
3. Be cautious of heat exhaustion. Training in general will increase your body temperature, so naturally it will rise even higher if you are working out outside in hotter temperatures. During times of excessive heat (usually 90 degrees or above), it’s wise to limit your workout time outside or to stop working out altogether. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include: Faintness, dizziness, fatigue, weak or rapid pulse, muscle cramps, heavy sweating, and nausea. Obviously, none of these things are fun. If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately get to a cool environment, preferably an air-conditioned room. If the symptoms persist, it may be necessary to take a cool shower and/or seek medical advice. Above all else, listen to your body!
4. Wear appropriate footwear. This is obviously important for indoor training as well, but even more so for outdoor training. If you are a runner, it is very important that you have a high-quality running shoe, especially for outdoor running, since there are so many different types of terrain. For other outdoor training, a high-quality cross trainer should be ideal. I always recommend going to a shoe store that specializes in athletic training, such as Fleet Feet. That way, they can monitor your gait and pick a high-quality shoe that is appropriate for you.
5. Be conscious of your environment. Obviously, outdoor training does not come with all of the safety measures that gyms and health clubs provide. This is especially true with the surface on which you are exercising. If you are exercising on concrete, I would recommend not doing any high intensity plyometric drills. Even when lifting weights, it may be a good idea to purchase a yoga mat to perform the exercises on, not just for your own protection, but also for the protection of your home exercise equipment (my first article covered some of the best home exercise equipment on the market).
6. Be conscious of your body. Another great advantage of training indoors, is that you have mirrors in which to watch yourself in. This is usually not the case outdoors, which makes it all the more difficult to be conscious of your form. Proper form is always of primary importance. So, when training outside, it is important to pay even more attention to your body to make sure that you are in proper alignment. This is actually a good lesson for us, because sometimes it’s easy to get lazy with our form inside the gym (even I have to watch out for this sometimes).
Anyway, there you have it: six of the essential rules for outdoor training. I hope this helps. Always just remember to pay attention to your surroundings and to how your body is feeling. And for those of you who can’t wait to get back into the gym, my gym (Quads Gym in Lakeview) is now open to trainers and their clients. If any of you have interest in personal training, feel free to give me a shout. Otherwise, stay safe, and stay healthy!
Michael Elder is a former competitive gymnast and has been working in the fitness industry since 1998. He is certified as a personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). He can be contacted by email: MichaelElderFitness@gmail.com. He can also be reached through his Facebook business page, Michael Elder: Certified Fitness Professional, or through his website: MichaelElder.com. He is currently available for Zoom virtual training sessions as well as one on one training sessions.