Make your neighbourhood your gym
Most of us are back at work now, full of food, good intentions and a few too many celebratory wines or beers.
With a new year comes self-reflection, contemplation, goalsetting, and quite often, a desire to get into shape.
Anytime is good to build new habits but summer is undoubtedly the best time to make the most of the beautiful country we live in. Whether you’re a city-sider, reside in the country or near the ocean, strapping on a pair of running shoes and getting outside is a great way to get fit and smash your resolutions. It also allows you to see your neighbourhood from a new perspective.
Here’s a few top tips to turn your playground into a training ground:
1. Get onto Google Maps and find your nearest park. Put your shoes on, start exploring and familiarising yourself with what’s out there. Some parks have trails and fitness equipment, others have hills and great grassy areas where you can do core strength exercises, sprints and run drills. Or just get to know some of the streets in your neighbourhood. Simple playground equipment can be used for serious training: think dips on park benches, pullups on monkey bars and sprinting (or jumps!) up sets of stairs. Use your imagination – and while you’re there, have a go on a slide and tap into that inner kid!
2. Close proximity can help with motivation and ease of access. Being able to head straight out from the office can help prevent that dip in motivation that occurs when we walk in the door after a long day to spy the couch and the TV remote. It will also help you process everything that happened at work so that you can come home and be more present with your family and friends.
3. Know what works for you. Maybe you run best on your own or need a buddy to help keep you motivated. Maybe you need a run group to learn from. There are many types of running groups out there – from professional technique-focused run squads to bootcamps, to groups of friends and neighbours who just want to get out and work out. Ask around on Neighbourly. Many running clubs and fitness groups will offer complimentary trial sessions; give a few a go and see if they’re for you or not (you’ll get fit trying!). Remember – a big part of staying motivated in group training is finding people you gel with. If it feels like a good fit then it probably is. Ask the trainer a little about the sorts of people training, what to expect and let them know your goals too.
4. Make sure you have a goal! Want to complete a full marathon? Maybe book in a half marathon first. Or even start with 5k or 10k races. Make an action plan for the year, that’s realistic for you to stick to.
5. Make sure you try a few different running routes in your area. This is really important to keep your motivation levels up. Running the same route can become dull; the brain switches off and injury can creep in.
Physiotherapist and athlete Stu Ross is an expert on how to get fit in your own neighbourhood.