Getting active doesn’t have to be a hassle. This summer, I have made it my goal to find affordable ways to get fit without going to the gym. So far, I have found that the best alternative is the great outdoors. You heard it right! There are so many ways to get active outdoors, and it’s free! Summers can pass quickly in the mitten, as many of you probably know, therefore you don’t want to miss any opportunity to make the most of the sunshine. Here are some of my favorite outdoor workout spots and how I utilize the space around me:
The Stairs on Division and Belknap Park
There is a flight of stairs near my house that I like to utilize for some High-Intensity Training. I tend to do about 10-15 sprints bottom to top. This workout always makes me super sweaty, but it’s really beneficial. If you engage your muscles correctly, it will work your entire body; your core should be firm and your arms and legs should be pumping. If you do not have access to stairs, you can always substitute with hills or bleachers. They will still engage the same muscles and give the same results! You can find stairs or hills in almost any neighborhood. Utilize the bleachers at your local high school or find a sledding spot. A few popular destinations that you should definitely check out:
- Stairs on Division located downtown. After a few sets, this incredibly steep set will leave you a sweaty, breathless mess.
- Belknap Park has 2 awesome hill slopes behind the baseball field. These are also great for lunges and intense hill training.
Downtown & the Grand River
I enjoy taking a run around my local neighborhood, but one of my favorite places to run is right through downtown Grand Rapids. You can run past the infamous Blue Bridge, stop to stretch in Rosa Parks Circle and maybe even stop for a crafted beverage or coffee after your run. There are many different routes you can take so it never gets boring or repetitive—plus you get to see the beauty of downtown.
Rosy Mound Nature Trail & Millennium Park
One of my favorite hiking spots is Rosy Mound Nature Trail, which is near the lakeshore. I enjoy hiking this trail because I am able to hike to a gorgeous view while still getting a solid workout in. The trail has a challenging terrain, from stairs to inclined paths, and I am able to engage multiple muscle groups. If this is too far, no worries! Millennium Park, closer to downtown, has more scenic paths to run or jog. It’s a quiet park that cuts through the woods and near a few lakes, making it a great place to clear your head and get active.
A local park can be as functional as a gym. Parks have a lot of green space for you to do some stretching, yoga, and circuit training. Personally, I love using my own body to work out, which can be referred to as Calisthenics. I am able to do these workouts virtually anywhere, like a park or my backyard. The playground set can also work as a CrossFit-style gym. For example, you can use monkey bars to do pull-ups or hanging ab crunches, or you can use the park bench to do some tricep push-ups. The park has a lot of potential, if you’re creative!
On top of all these wonderful outdoor fitness destinations, Grand Rapids also provides many free outdoor fitness classes throughout the summer. Funky Buddha yoga studio even holds free yoga classes in select parks, which is awesome.
Exercise can be simple! You don’t need expensive memberships or fancy yoga clothes. Embrace what the universe has given us and get active outdoors. These are my personal and favorite places to get active outdoors, what are yours?