Gym-Free Workouts – Park Runs and Military Fitness Sessions

In recent years, many Brits have abandoned their local gyms in favour of the Great Outdoors. While walkers, joggers, Tai Chi practitioners and cyclists have always known about the benefits of exercising in fresh air, organised outdoor group fitness sessions are now very much on-trend.

Two of the most popular options are parkruns and military-style training classes. So what are these workout methods and what makes them so attractive to their fans?

Parkruns – Be Part of the Running Revolution

While outdoor running is far from new, parkrun has captured imaginations around the world. Since the first official parkrun took place in 2004, more than 2.4 million of us have been inspired to put on our trainers and take part.

One of the most attractive things about the parkrun programme is its simplicity. Each week, runners head to their local green spaces and complete 5k at whatever speed they can. You can join in whether you’re a total novice or have won running medals, and there are no age or gender restrictions. The organisers also run junior parkruns for children aged between four and fourteen; these are 2k runs, so they won’t be as tiring for little legs.

Some people take part in parkruns to improve their general fitness levels, while others use the scheme to train for competitive events. Many prefer running with others to solitary running, while others enjoy the fact that they can compare their times each week.

Another key benefit of the parkrun scheme is that it’s free of charge. The runs are held in public spaces and staffed by volunteers, so the organisers can ensure they stay open to all. You can also wear whatever you like, so you won’t need expensive kit. You’ll just need a decent pair of running shoes if you want to take part.

Military Fitness Sessions – Get Fit, Forces-Style

For those who want to push themselves, boot camp-style courses are all the rage. This type of exercise class has been popular for many years now, so it isn’t just a flash in the pan. One of the leading class providers, British Military Fitness (BMF), for example, was established back in 1999 and now holds sessions in more than 140 UK locations. You’ll probably be able to find many other class providers in your area too.

If the phrase “boot camp” fills you with fear, don’t despair. Most organisations offer classes for people of all ages and abilities. BMF’s classes usually last for an hour and you’ll complete a warm-up, followed by a range of exercises to improve your cardio fitness and strength.

If you’ve previously taken part in circuit training classes, you’ll find many of the exercises are familiar to you. Star jumps, burpees and push-ups could all be on the menu, as well as plenty of sprints and games. Like circuit training, this type of exercise session can have a range of health benefits. It can also be just as useful to elite athletes who want to improve their performance as it is to those who just want to lose a little weight.

Unlike traditional circuit training sessions, however, these classes give you the chance to work out outdoors, rather than in a stuffy gym, and the class content tends to be more varied, so you’re less likely to get bored.

Have you tried parkruns or military fitness sessions? Tell us about your experiences on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments section.