McMillan: Forget the gym; head to park for a free, beneficial workout

By

Published:

 
photoSherri McMillan demonstrates doing push-ups in the park.
photohttp://www.columbian.com/news/2012/jul/01/nonprofits-wait-for-fireworks-sales-to-explode/
photoSherri McMillan demonstrates a rotation plank exercise.
photoSherri McMillan demonstrates a rotation plank exercise.
photoSherri McMillan demonstrates a single leg squat exercise.
photoSherri McMillan demonstrates a single leg squat exercise.

We are so fortunate to live in a city full of so many wonderful parks — Esther Short, the waterfront, Klineline Pond, and so many more.

Instead of just thinking of them as a wonderful place for kids to play and to walk the dog, think of them as a fitness gym minus the membership fee. There are so many things you can do at a park using nothing but your body weight or the bars in the kiddie section (just don’t hog the equipment from the kids).

Monkey bars become chin-up bars. Steps and benches are perfect for step-ups, pushups and dips. Kids “out of school” doesn’t need to mean “out of shape.”

• Single leg squats: There are plenty of poles to hold onto at a park. Find a pole and hold onto it with arms fully extended. Balance on one leg, keeping your front knee over the top of your ankle as you slowly squat backward as low as feels comfortable. Perform 8-20 reps each leg. This is an excellent exercise for buns and legs of steel.

• Pushups: On your knees or toes, drop and give me 8-20 good, old-fashioned military pushups. You can put your hands on a bench or step to make it easier to get a full set in. This is a great exercise for your chest, shoulders, triceps and core.

• Rotation plank: Place your hands on a surface 1-2 feet off the ground. Position your shoulders and elbows over your wrists, contract your abdominal muscles and keep you back elongated. Hold for a few seconds. Then slowly lift one hand and rotate toward the sky. Return to the starting position and repeat to the other side Continue for 30-90 seconds. This is a great exercise for your core.

So remember, the park is your gym. Using nothing more than your body weight and the playground apparatus, you can give yourself an incredible workout while the kids play. Meet your girlfriends or your buds at a set time a few times a week so the kids can play and you all can work out together.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc., is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She can be reached at http://nwPersonalTraining.com or http://ShapeupwithSherri.com.