Outdoor Ideas for Group Fitness

Take your workout into the great outdoors!

Cabin fever is a very real thing, because humans weren't meant to be cooped up inside all the time. The average American spends 90% of their time indoors, something that has turned us into an anxious, sedentary, sleepy lot. At the top of the list, all that time hiding out inside takes away our exposure to natural sunlight, and that interferes with mood, energy, sleep, and general wellness.

Kenneth Wright, director of the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at University of Colorado, Boulder advised, in an interview with TIME, that people should spend 45 minutes outside each day in the morning, which kind of jolts your mind and body into the new day.

This more than satisfies your coverage for vitamin D production, but gives you a substantial mental boost to thrive throughout the day. That time spent outdoors, around natural elements, can also improve physical and mental energy by as much as 40%.

While the gym is the obvious center of fitness and wellness, it's better for everyone if those walls get pushed down. Take your next physical group activity out of the office and the studio for a workout with far greater benefits than just cardio or strength. Here are a few ways to get started!

Team-Building Exercises

Team-building exercises are employed by corporations, small businesses, schools, and camps to improve camaraderie, trust, cooperation and problem-solving skills.

These team-building games often rely on physical skills like climbing, throwing, jumping and running. For team-building efforts, choose games that don't isolate participants in a competition, but rather have them physically working together to solve a problem or reach a shared end goal.

  • Reserve time at an obstacle course for an intensive experience. 
  • Build your own obstacle course, inspired by field day activities.
  • Host a relay race.
  • Organize an active scavenger hunt.
  • Hit the water for canoeing or kayaking.
  • Play tug-of-war. 
  • Schedule a yoga or tai chi lesson in a nearby park.

Adventure Sports

Get your friend group out of the lull of sitting around eating and drinking and organize an outdoor adventure. Not only will you all work together to reach a literal or proverbial mountain top, but you'll create new stories to share to spice up your next sit-around get together.

As a group fitness instructor, organize outdoor adventures like these to incentivize your class; they can see their hard work pay off when they effortlessly finish an intense hike.

  • Whitewater rafting
  • Mountain or road bike excursion
  • Outdoor rock climbing
  • Snowshoeing 
  • Cross country skiing 
  • Trail running
  • Zip lining   

Circuit Workouts

As a personal trainer, clients look to you to have all the good ideas and to know when and how to mix up a fitness routine. Instead of leading your clients through yet another indoor circuit of weight machines, head to a local park or wilderness area. Or, if you're lucky enough to live near an amphitheater like Red Rocks, definitely go there!

Utilizing your own body weight and making creative use of available props like benches, stairs, monkey bars, trees, and boulders, you can organize a total body workout that targets strength, endurance, balance, flexibility and agility. For added benefit, take some resistance bands with you.

  • Use sticks, rocks and pinecones instead of cones to organize an agility course.
  • Use park benches for box jumps and triceps dips.
  • Use monkey bars or tree branches for pull-ups. 
  • Use the bottom of a slide for push-ups.
  • Use a sturdy tree branch or fence post to secure a resistance band for these 10 exercises.
  • Use the sand to give resistance for lunges, squats and jumping jacks.
  • Use a standard or tire swing to replace a BOSU for balance exercises. 

Traditional Sports

There's no better way to rally friends or co-workers than with a rousing game of outdoor sports. Whether it's tag football during a tailgate or Frisbee golf on a sunny afternoon, these are intense cardio activities that give you all the mental benefits of socializing, fresh air and sunshine. If you run a gym, you could organize these games as value-add social events to bring together your community.

  • Basketball
  • Softball
  • Soccer
  • Football
  • Ultimate Frisbee or Frisbee Golf
  • Bocce 
  • Lacrosse