Favourite countryside/city spots in London for outside training

Posted March 24th, 2021 in Article

As we approach the next phase of moving out of lockdown, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to write about a completely new appreciation for the great outdoors and the incredible opportunities to enjoy an outdoor training session. Thankfully lockdown 3 has meant that training 1 to 1 is still permitted. I speak on behalf of my clients, as well as myself, that this has been a really important time to focus on my clients needs and for some adapting to a new space to do this. The session has been time away from home schooling, up until a couple of weeks ago, a lunch hour or around the new normal schedule people are adapting to. To challenge physically and push harder than they may have achieved doing a workout on their own. Also a time to offload about the stresses being experienced, so really finishing the session feeling physically and emotionally ready to deal with the day ahead.
The change in location for where we need to meet for some has been embraced, i.e. a park! It means that I have now found some incredible locations for training outdoors for some creative workouts. The lovely park bench overlooking the common or river, which is literally known (affectionately I might add) as ‘the bench’ – steps ups, split squats, tricep dips, planks, pike jumps, an anchor point for bands – the list goes on! It has certainly provided a completely different way of training than was possible, even if it was in a garden space and the improvement in strength and fitness is noticeable from the first time we adapted to where we could work out and what we could do. For example the strength in the glutes and hamstrings from step ups on a bench, or variations of initially seemed a challenge and now the ability to complete more reps or for a longer period of time is possible. It is great to see the progress physically, but also a shift in the clients well being from the outdoor experience has been noticeable. Exercise in an outdoor space has provided a physical challenge but there seems to be something about the fresh air in our lungs and (sometimes) sunshine on our faces that leave everyone I have trained at this time feeling rejuvenated, in body and mind.

Of course the weather here is never guaranteed. So although I write this from my garden, enjoying some afternoon sunshine after two outdoor park training sessions (in two different parks) it is something to consider. However, both myself and my clients are all far more open minded to a cold or soggy workout than I think they thought they might have been and when you do get the most glorious sunshine there is no better feeling than working out outside. The weather issue has never bothered me too much. I have a great set of waterproof bottoms and jacket, not the greatest look but makes it easier to brave the conditions at times.

I have always cycled as my main mode of transport when I can. I live near Twickenham so quite often it is the quickest and easiest way to get around anyway. But if someone had told me just over a year ago, that the gyms would be closing and for the most part of the last 12 months this has been the case, I would have wondered if I could maintain my fitness without both teaching and attending classes, but also how much I would have enjoyed it. Well I have to say with virtual classes and the great outdoors I can not really imagine going back now. I have the most amazing space around me and at a time where we aren’t able to travel outside of the local area I have found so many great walks, cycles and places to train outdoors that I can almost pick a different route or spot most days of the week. My favourite is Bushey Park, between Kingston, Hampton and Teddington. I have regularly cycled here and found a spot to practice yoga or hook up some resistance bands to some railing, put my music on and create a really great workout. There are so many places slightly off the usual paths and trails that it hasn’t been overlooked either. Me, my music, strength and cardio training and the great outdoors. Yoga outdoors takes on a completely different feel, much more of an awareness to the sounds of nature and can be more challenging for focus too. Try Vrkasana (Tree Pose) and change your gaze upwards to the sky, the moving clouds create a new challenge, as does balancing on a surface that isn’t quite as stable as a mat on hard wood! But there is just something about training outdoors that really puts a spring in my step and smile on my face. There seems to be more of a focus on what I am doing, less awareness of time, so no clock watching and just enjoying creating something a bit different using the limited equipment and my own body weight as the resistance. I also recently discovered Home Park, Hampton Court..Wow! A hidden gem which has a golf course (obviously no flying balls there at the moment to contend with) but just the most deceptively large green space. Walking and cycling here has been great. Finally, I never get bored of walking along the River Thames and up Richmond Hill into Richmond Park. So many beautiful walks and great views of Central London. It feels like that perfect escape from the City, which you can see as you enter the park from Richmond Hill gate and heading straight on, but mostly the opportunity just to enjoy nature.

I would imagine that most of us have found somewhere locally we didn’t know existed, or certainly not the vast amount of routes for walking, cycling or exercising that they have to offer. I hope that going forward when we do have the option to choose other venues for exercising we can combine this with continuing to enjoy the great outdoors. The slower pace of life has also made me value walking. I was often going from place to place, work to gym, time with family and rushing back to the gym to teach, but now I have not had to consider this I love to walk to a local park and find an anchor point for my bands or my willing boyfriend to do some partner exercises using sandbags, balls or resistance bands. Great fun, interactive and a way to get a varied workout which is spontaneous and can evolve in to a really creative and challenging session. I look forward to being able to travel down to spend time on the South Coast with family and friends when I can, but it will be with a new way of looking at fitness and one that is far more enjoyable and less structured than other ways to get my fix. I won’t be signing off from the virtual experience and absolutely love teaching for Zest Live and helping you achieve or maintain your own fitness goals. The last 12 months has ensured that I have found my favourite spots to train outdoors which have provided the best complement to this. I look forward to exploring more places when the opportunity arises. I am hoping Sam can share her Sussex outdoor training experience with me too so we can create a fun session too (no pressure Sam)

I hope this inspires you to get outdoors and find your top spot for exercising. Keep trying new things and exploring new places and it will give you a new perspective on the outdoor spaces we all have around us waiting to be explored further and enjoyed. The combination of fresh air, amazing parks or countryside, endorphins flowing whether it is solo time or partner training can challenge our bodies in a different way, plus it helps you sleep well! With Spring almost here now is a great time to maybe revisit your favourite space or find a new one or when we can meet up with friends take it in turns to introduce each other to a new space. The options are endless but so rewarding.

Interested in outdoor Personal Training? Sussex, London hello@zestlive.co.uk