Take your boot camp class outside with this simple plug-and-play park workout. It will keep your participants engaged using the traditional format of alternating high-intensity cardio with lower-intensity body-weight resistance. The only “equipment” you’ll need is whatever’s available at your local park!

Park Workout: Plug-and-Play Boot Camp

Planning Process

Before designing your class, survey your chosen park with the following questions in mind:

  • Does it have a walking/running path?
  • Are there open areas (grassy or paved)?
  • How many secured benches and/or picnic tables are there?
  • Is there a playground with swings and monkey bars?

Once you have this information, you can plug any of the following activities into your program design in whichever order you choose. Consider your class goals and time restrictions, and just plug and play! Note: Be sure to add a full-body, dynamic warmup and cooldown/stretch.

Other Important Considerations for Your Park Workout

  • Music is a huge motivating factor. Check that you’re allowed to play amplified music and, if so, choose upbeat playlists.
  • As a group fitness instructor, you’ll need general liability insurance. If you’re lucky enough to work at a facility with an outdoor playing field you can use, you’re likely covered by company insurance. However, if the class will be in a park, you’ll have to acquire insurance. Fortunately, you can find very affordable coverage to give you peace of mind. [Editor’s note: IDEA offers fitness liability insurance for as little as $91 per year.]

See also: No-Equipment Outdoor Workouts

Walking/Running Path

Women running during a park workout

Walk or jog four “laps,” pausing to perform a strength exercise at each checkpoint.

A good path makes circuit training an easy option for a park workout. During your initial site review, travel the prospective path and look for secured benches or picnic tables along the way. These will serve as your resistance training checkpoints. Use your smartphone or watch to measure the path’s distance, so participants have a reference point for each lap.

Variables:

  • Determine each “lap’s” approximate length (1⁄4 mile or whatever distance you establish).
  • Choose three to five secured benches or picnic tables spaced along the path to serve as strength checkpoints. Participants will repeat certain moves at these stops.
  • Stagger people, starting them one by one, or let them travel along the path as a group, stopping together.

Sample Activity (15-20 Minutes):

Walk or jog four “laps,” pausing to perform a strength exercise at each checkpoint:

  • lap one: pushup 10x–15x (inclined on bench or from ground)
  • lap two: squat 10x–15x
  • lap three: triceps dip 10x–15x (hands on bench/table)
  • lap four: stationary lunge 10x–15x per leg

Open-Space Park Workout

During your site visit, select an area that’s away from other park-goers and appears clean (no mud) and safe (no divots or holes). For the park workout design, plug in an “every-minute-on-the-minute (EMOM)” section, a ladder shuttle and/or a pyramid shuttle for a fun challenge.

EMOM

Use your stopwatch and start each exercise at the top of the minute. The faster your participants complete the set, the more recovery time they’ll have.

Variables:

  • Alternate higher-intensity cardio movements with lower-intensity strength exercises.
  • Keep all fitness levels in mind and determine the reps for each exercise. Let participants choose their own level. For example, with burpees you might assign 12 reps to level one, 20 reps to level two, etc.

Sample EMOM activity:

10 moves, all starting at the top of the minute (10 minutes)

  1. burpee: 12x–20x
  2. pushup: 10x–20x
  3. jump squat (modify as needed): 15x–20x
  4. standing side crunch (with same-side knee lift): 12x–15x per side
  5. mountain climber: 40x–50x
  6. stationary lunge: 12x–15x per side
  7. skater: 30x–40x
  8. single-leg deadlift: 8x–10x per side
  9. high-knee skip: 30x–40x
  10. high plank with knee drive: 30x–40x

See also: Sample Class: EMOM Workout

Ladder Shuttle

This is a sneak attack! It progressively becomes more challenging as it unfolds. Mark a straight out-and-back distance where participants will run, stop and do the designated exercise, then run back to the starting point and repeat.

Variables:

  • Prior to class, mark a distance of approximately 20 yards (or 65 feet, measuring heel-to-toe). Use orange cones if you have them, or utilize landmarks such as trees, pathways, garbage cans, etc.
  • Assign a strength exercise to the activity. When finished, participants will have tackled a total of 55 reps. Plug in any body-weight move you want, such as squats, pushups, V-sit twists or plank knee drives.

Sample ladder shuttle activity:

Time: 3–5 minutes

Running distance: approximately 20 yards

Exercises: running (or speed walking), squats

  • Run 20 yards; squat 1x.
  • Run back to start; squat 2x.
  • Run 20 yards; squat 3x.
  • Run back to start; squat 4x.
  • Run 20 yards; squat 5x.
  • Run back to start; squat 6x.
  • Run 20 yards; squat 7x.
  • Run back to start; squat 8x.
  • Run 20 yards; squat 9x.
  • Run back to start; squat 10x.

Pyramid Shuttle

This starts out like the ladder shuttle, but you change exercises at the halfway point and reverse the repetition order. Consider choosing one exercise for the upper body and one for the lower body. This cuts each move to only 15 reps, which better accommodates all fitness levels.

Sample pyramid shuttle activity:

  • Run 20 yards; squat 1x.
  • Run back to start; squat 2x.
  • Run 20 yards; squat 3x.
  • Run back to the start; squat 4x.
  • Run 20 yards; squat 5x.
  • Run back to start; pushup 1x.
  • Run 20 yards; pushup 2x.
  • Run back to start; pushup 3x.
  • Run 20 yards out; pushup 4x.
  • Run back to start; pushup 5x.

Play-Structure Moves

Women stretching and exercising during a park workout

Teach some cardio, such as running, jumping jacks or burpees, between each strength-building station.

If it doesn’t affect park patrons, incorporate swings and monkey bars as resistance training stations.

Variables:

  • Beforehand, determine which pieces of play structure equipment you’d like to use, and test that they’ll be safe and secure.
  • Teach some cardio, such as running, jumping jacks or burpees, between each strength-building station.

Sample play-structure activity:

Time: 6 minutes = 45 seconds strength/15 seconds to transition, plus 30 seconds cardio between stations

  • Swing plank: Do high plank with feet in swing; draw knees to chest.
  • Swing lunge right: Place R foot on ground, left foot behind in swing and lunge.
  • Swing lunge L.
  • Monkey bars incline pullup: With wide hand grip, feet out in front, pull body toward structure.

See also: Sample Class: The Playground