The first time I ran through Central Park, I got lost. I wondered, “How can anyone run in this place without stopping to look at a map every few minutes?” How things change. Now I live near the park, run there at night, take personal training clients there for boot camp and shot part of my Military Wife Workout fitness DVD here.
But, it’s starting to feel monotonous because I work out there so often. So I created a revved-up running route using outdoor space as an obstacle-course. If your mind and body crave a change of pace, make the park your personal training playground.
Warm up with a brisk walk to the entrance or your neighborhood park or running trail.
Abs: Find a playground. Lay down on the top of the slide, feet below head, holding on the sides with your hands at shoulder level. Keep the legs straight and lift them to the sky to tone the lower abs. To make it interesting, you can even lift your hips off the slide at the top of the move and push your feet into the clouds. Aim for 20 or more.
Legs: Now start with a slow jog on the trail. Run for a good five minutes and then find a bench. It’s “time to step up” the effort. Place your right foot onto the bench and using your leg muscles, lift your body up off the ground. As the right leg straightens, bend the left knee and lift it forward to hip level to engage the abs. Step down with the left foot and then with both feet on the ground to finish one rep. Do at least 10 before switching to the left lead. Each week you’ll be able to do more.
Biceps and Back: Now pick up the pace and run on the trail again. If there’s another playground you can stop along the way for another set of abs, and you can add chin-ups as a bonus. Use a grip where your palms face you.
Chest: Start running again. Find another bench and bust out 20 good push-ups. If you’re advanced and donÂ’t mind a little dirt, take it to the ground instead. Otherwise use the seat or the back of the bench, depending on your level of strength.
Legs: Get your jog on again for five minutes then pause for jumping lunges. If you want an intense New York-style move, this is it. Twenty jumping lunges starting with right foot forward, knee over ankle and feet about the-length-of-your-leg distance apart. As you literally jump to switch legs scissor style, get some air in the center of the move — what we trainers call plyometrics. You’re strengthening your legs and lessening jogging jiggle while boosting the booty with this move.
(If doing a loop, turn around now to start back.)
Triceps: Now shake it out, hit a water fountain, and run again. The next time you see a bench, place your hands and knuckles forward, at the edge of the seat. Straighten your legs so you balance on your heals, and lift your backside off the bench. Lower your hips down toward the ground until your elbows point directly behind you at a 90 degree bend (pictured). Do 20-30 dips. (Trainer tip: the slower you go the harder they will be. Also, do extra bicep curls at home or at the gym at some point this week with weights or tubing to work the opposing muscle.)
Cardio Interval intensity: After your triceps dips, find some the stairs. You can do this once or several times depending on how much time and energy you have, and what your running route looks like. If you don’t find stairs to do sprints, just start regular running intervals, one minute fast and one slow, or sprint during the chorus of the song you are listening to in your headphones.
You’re now almost back, so time for upper back. If you don’t find a place to lie down between here and the end of your route, then save this move for when you get home and skip right to outdoor leg stretching. If you’re like me, and don’t mind laying down in the grass after a sweaty workout, then go chest down and place your arms extended to the sides, forming the letter “T.” Lift the shoulders, hands, elbows, knees and feet off the ground, focusing on squeezing the shoulder blades together, and strengthening your lower back. You’ll also feel your glutes and hamstrings working. Keep looking at the ground to keep the neck in line with the spine. Do 20 of these to work the opposing muscles and even out the push-ups.
Stretch: If you like to stretch outside, do it here. If at home, you can check out the free four-minute stretch video.When it’s over, you not only had a nice long run, but with toning moves along the way, you boosted your fat burn and your metabolism. The whole routine helps me focus on what circuit is next, and not on which mile IÂ’m on.
Remember, it’s bad to get lost in the park, but good to get lost in your workout.
Fitness – Fit it in! Nikki