I was recently doing a workout in a park on some gymnastics rings hanging from a tree. A woman walked by and irritatingly asked, “don’t you know this is not a gym?” Yes, I in fact did know that this was not a gym; I guess the blue sky, fresh air and the absence of rows of treadmills gave it away.
This is not the only time a skeptical glance has been cast upon me or people I have trained with outdoors.
This skepticism strikes me as a tremendous paradox, considering for millions of years the human species evolved in nature. We are literally made to thrive outside.
Maybe my skeptical friend from the park is just not aware of the studies and literature that confirm the benefits of exercising in natural surroundings that include lowering stress levels, elevating mood and increasing performance.
It’s simple– Take your workout outside and your workout is automatically enhanced.
Maybe the problem runs deeper though?
As our society gets more obese and chronically ill, our notions of fitness become even more narrowly-scoped. Fitness is becoming tied to being indoors, in societally-acceptable spots like commercial gyms, where people mindlessly churn away on machines.
It’s what everyone else is doing, so it must be what I should do. Right?
As people continue to lose physical capacity they increasingly look to workouts or fitness systems with fancy names that must unlock some hidden secret to a better body. Truth is, some hill sprints are some of the most simple and effective exercises you can do. But they might be too simple and you can’t do those in a gym.
And if you do decide to workout outside, you better be jogging or you may be subjected to the “evil eye” of the defenders of the fitness status quo.
Are we so far removed from our natural living environment that it looks awkward to even see people working out or moving in a “non-traditional” way outside?
Maybe this all speaks to the grip that convention, routine and status quo has over our lives.
If gymnastic ring dips on a tree are now an act of defiance, then this grip is tightening.
What about you? Ever gotten the “evil eye” working out where your were not “supposed” to?