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Can't afford a gym membership? Get bored easily by exercise? Don’t want to run into your ex at spinning class? No problem! There's always the great outdoors - otherwise known as your local park.

No Gym No Problem

I love my local park and use it as an alternative to gym circuit training once a week. It has everything I need for arms, legs, and abs, which includes benches, ledges, steps, and lawn space. The interior/exterior dirt pathways are great for running and easy on the joints.

Public parks aren’t fancy, but they’re close-by, scenic, and free. Nothing beats the ease and convenience of working out in a park when you have no money, time, or patience. And the best part is that you can simulate many exercises that you’d do in a gym by using your own body weight.

Here’s how:


Plyometric Squats

Stand in front of a ledge or bench, feet slightly wider than hip width. Start by doing a regular squat, lowering your hips toward the ledge or bench. Lightly tap your butt on the surface, then jump up explosively, using your arms to propel you upward.

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When you land, lower your body back into the squat position and tap your butt again to complete one rep. Land and tap as quietly as you can.

Three sets, 15 reps.

One-Legged Bulgarian Squats

Stand lunge-length in front of a ledge or bench. Cross your arms across your chest, and rest the top of your left foot on the bench behind you.

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Lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the ground and your front thigh is parallel to the ground. Keep your chest is lifted, shoulders back, abs engaged for balance.

Three sets, 15 reps each leg.

Leg Ups

Stand with feet staggered, right foot on the center of the bench or ledge in front of you. Knee is aligned over the ankle, chest is lifted, shoulders are back.

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Bring left arm forward and right arm back, elbows bent, as if you were running. Push off the left foot and shift the weight to your right leg. Stand up, raising the left knee to hip height, switching arm positions.

Three sets, 15 reps each leg.



Place both hands on a bench or ledge, about shoulder width apart. Legs and feet should be hip width apart. Body is straight, with shoulders right over your wrists.

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With your abs pulled in, and spine aligned, lower your chest as close to the bench as possible, inhaling as you do. Exhale and push your body back up to starting position. Make sure your back doesn’t sag during the movement.

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Three sets, 15 reps.


Begin seated on the edge of a bench, step, or ledge with your hands placed next to your hips. Your fingers should face forward and latch over the edge of the surface so that your palm is planted firmly.

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Inch forward with your feet so that your hips come off of the bench. Your knees should form 90-degree angles and your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Be sure to keep your shoulders back and down. Avoid shrugging them up towards your ears.

Slowly lower yourself towards the ground by bending your elbows. Concentrate on keeping your hips still and avoid dropping them towards the ground. Avoid letting your elbows flare out.

Slowly push yourself back up to the starting position, squeezing your tricep muscles at the top of the movement.

Do as many reps as you can (try 10-20) without compromising your form.



From a push-up position, lower your elbows 90 degrees to the ground, resting your weight on your forearms. Elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and body should form a straight line from your head to your feet.


Keep your navel pulled in, your neck and spine in alignment, and make sure your back doesn’t sag.

Hold as long as you can - 30 seconds to 2 minutes - without compromising your form.


Sit on the bench or ledge with hands by your side or slightly behind you, feet lifted off the ground. Lean back and pull knees into your chest. Exhale at the top of the move, then extend legs back out.

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Three sets, 15 reps.

Spider Man Crunches

Begin in a prone position on a bench or ledge. Support your weight on your hands and toes, with your feet together and your body straight. Your arms should be bent to 90 degrees.

Initiate the movement by raising one foot off of the ground. Externally rotate the leg and bring the knee toward your elbow, as far forward as possible.

Return this leg to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

Three sets, 20 reps each leg.

I use the park’s features as exercise stations, jogging to each station to keep my heart rate up. I do a total of three laps, total workout time: about 30-40 minutes. You can bring whatever you want to a park workout – towel, yoga mat, or additional equipment like light weights, resistance tubes, bars, bands, balls, etc.

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Here’s another plus to outdoor workouts that you don’t get in a gym: having Mother Nature as your training partner. She can be a bitch sometimes, but she gets results. Battling the elements (weather, wind, heat, cold, etc.) gets you fitter faster and toughens you up like nothing else. I’ve seen it with myself, as well as with my clients that I train outside.

When I bring my clients back into the gym, they’re like bionic women and six million dollar men: better, stronger, faster. Hello all wannabe Steve Austins and Jamie Summers? This workout is for you!

No Gym No Problem

No one said outdoor training was a walk in the park, but if you want better stamina, improved endurance, a good physical challenge, and some fresh air, then it’s time to get out of the gym and into the great outdoors.

Treva Brandon Scharf