Exercise in Public Parks

Should Fitness Classes be Allowed Outside in Public Parks?

Why are Trainers Causing a Stir by Using Public Parks and Beaches?

By Helen O’Neill

Outside Exercise ClassIn the past few years personal trainers and group fitness instructors have often been in the media – but not always for good reasons. There has been some public outcry about the way that trainers utilise public areas, like parks and beaches, for individual or group training sessions. At first, this seems odd. Surely outdoors exercising should be encouraged in an age where we are only getting more unfit and unhealthy? However, arguments about public disturbance and the use of free areas for commercial gain have gained increasing attention.

Reasons against the use of public areas by fitness trainers

So what’s all the fuss about, you ask? Well, unfortunately not all fitness classes are small and quiet. There have been reports of classes with loud music early in the morning, participants utilising play equipment and benches, and damaging trees by tying ropes to them. Here are some of the reasons against outdoor fitness classes:

1. Reducing equal access. Following complaints from the public, some councils have decided that holding fitness sessions in public areas can reduce equal access by taking up too much space, or causing people to move away from the perceived disturbance. Park users may change their regular activities when large groups are present, opt to visit the park at a different time of the day, or even change parks altogether.

2. Right to quiet enjoyment. Members of the public have the right to quiet enjoyment of these areas, and some feel that shouting trainers and sweaty participants can make the spaces unenjoyable.

3. Damage. Councils have acknowledged that increased use of the spaces means that there is increased wear and tear of the public facilities. Fitness activities can also significantly impact nature such as grass, gardens, and sand dunes.

We have all seen signs like ‘keep off the grass’ to prevent damage. Other park rules can include no tree climbing, no bathing, and no playing of musical instruments or using rude language. Some say that banning or restricting exercise in parks is a simple extension or enforcement of these rules.

4. Private use, commercial gain. Another concern is that trainers can be seen to be exploiting a free, public space for commercial gains.

5. Public liability. Finally, there is a concern about public liability if trainers do not have adequate insurance.

Reasons for the use of public areas by fitness trainers

Exercise in public parksWhile there are some good reasons why outdoor fitness sessions cause public angst, surely people’s attempts to get fit and healthy shouldn’t be hindered? Here are some of the pros for supporting outdoor fitness classes:

1. Society needs more fitness, not less. Surely any form of exercise in our time-poor and increasingly overweight society should be encouraged? It seems logical that we should only encourage people to improve their quality of life through exercise.

2. Outdoor classes are more accessible. In many cases, outdoor group fitness classes are cheaper than a gym membership and other sports memberships. This makes them more financially viable for those who may not be able to afford a gym membership.

3. Equal rights and public freedoms. Those who support outdoor exercise argue that everyone pays council rates so they have the right to use the facilities too. And if parks and beaches are public areas for all to use, do councils have the right to say what people can and can’t do in them? Who should be able to determine what an appropriate use of a public space is? Many rules are clearly to protect the public from dangerous activities – such as climbing trees, flying model aeroplanes or playing golf. But there have been no reports of outdoors exercise classes injuring onlookers.

4. It’s already working. In an article by Ricky van der Zwan, an Associate Professor in Neuroscience at Southern Cross University, and Julie Tucker, Partner Facilitator at Southern Cross University, the pair argued that our current obesity epidemic demands a community approach to exercise. And with the number of people joining group fitness classes that are performed in public spaces, stopping their ability from doing this will only make the obesity levels worse.

What’s the answer here?

Many councils have brought in their own laws to regulate the use of public spaces by fitness trainers. Usually there is a fee to utilise the parks and strict laws to confine the exercisers to specific areas, such as away from pathways and significant areas like cemeteries, memorials and protected bushland. Regulation has its place so that park users can enjoy free use of parks in certain places and at certain times of the day.

The government is continuously trying to encourage the public to be more active, spend more time outdoors and become more involved in the community – and outdoors group exercise classes could be the answer.


HelenHelen O’Neill is the National Communications Manager for the Australian Institute of Fitness. She has over eight years of experience in editorial and communications work in the fitness industry. Helen connects the Australian Institute of Fitness to its audience through fitness articles, blogs, social media and PR.

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What To Eat for Peak Race Performance

Eating for Peak Race Performance

In this episode of the Outside Health and Fitness Podcast I am happy to welcome back Joanna Chodorowska. You might remember Joanna from Episode 82 when she was on helping us understand why staying properly hydraded is critical for performance and overalll health. Today she’s back to talk about the importance of race day nutrition.

On today’s show you’ll learn…

  • …how important it is to dial in your nutrition long before race day;
  • …what to eat on race day to perform your best (if you’re thinking huge amounts of spaghetti you might be surprised to hear what Joanna shares….)
  • …and how to recover properly after your race is over.

Call the Show! 1-207-370-9797

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Morning Tabata Routine

A Fast Four Minute Morning Tabata Routine

Working Out When You’re Short On Time

Tabata routines are perfect for those of us on tight schedules. The following routine takes anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes when you count warm-up and cool down and the exercises themselves only four minutes!

What is Tabata?

Copy of Steve Stearns' (2) (1)Izumi Tabata performed studies in 1996 and demonstrated that High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) provided some impressive results in a short period of time. Tabata worked with Olympic Skaters. He applied a schedule of H.I.I.T.that covered 4 days and included a 5th day of steady state (traditional) training. During days scheduled for High Intensity Interval Training the athletes worked at their max capacity for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest 8 times in a row. Each session lasted a total of 4 minutes but despite the short time the results were impressive.

Tabata found the H.I.I.T. athletes achieved the same results as athletes working at longer periods using traditional steady state exercises. Because H.I.I.T.requires you to give it everything you have during a short period you’re engaging in anaerobic exercise, the same type used by athletes in non-endurance sports, to promote strength, speed and power. H.I.I.T.also increases your heart rate causing you to burn more fat in less time.

My Four Minute Morning Routine

  • 2 Minute = Warm-Up
  • 20 Sec = Jumping Jacks
  • 10 Sec = rest
  • 20 Sec = Burpees
  • 10 Sec = rest
  • 20 Sec = Jump Lunges
  • 10 Sec = rest
  • 20 Sec = Push – ups
  • 10 Sec = rest
  • Repeat the entire circuit
  • 2 Minute = Cool down

That’s it! Your metabolism will be revved up for the rest of the day in just under 10 minutes!

Watch this short video clip on the routine:

It’s important to incorporate Tabata in with the other activities you’re doing to stay healthy, fit and active like walking, running, hiking, biking and so on. As with any exercise routine, be sure to consult with your doctor before starting.

Get Your H.I.I.T. Guide!

To get 100s of other H.I.I.T. routines, resources and learn more about how H.I.I.T. and Tabata training can help you get in the best shape of your life get your copy of the guide H.I.I.T. IT! 

See you outside,  Steve


The information presented on this site is by no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical counseling. The information should be used in conjunction with the guidance and care of your physician. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise and nutrition program. If you choose not to obtain the consent of your physician and/or work with your physician throughout the duration of your time using the recommendations on this site, you are agreeing to accept full responsibility for your actions.

By continuing with the programs, exercises, advice, information or diets found here you recognize that despite all precautions on the part of Outside Health & Fitness, there are risks of injury or illness which can occur because of your use of the aforementioned information and you expressly assume such risks and waive, relinquish and release any claim which you may have against Outside Health and Fitness or its affiliates as a result of any future physical injury or illness incurred in connection with, or as a result of, use or misuse of the programs, exercises, advice, diets and/or information found on this site.

Warrior Hike

Warrior Hike with Sean Gobin

Walk Off The War

In this episode of the Outside Health and Fitness Podcast I am honored to welcome Sean Gobin founder of “Warrior Hike” to the show. Sean returned home in 2012, after three combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and hiked all 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

On today’s show you’ll learn…

  • …how Sean got the idea and started Warrior Hike and the Walk Off The War program;
  • …how long distance hiking has a therapeutic effect for men and women returning from the battlefield;
  • …how spending time on the trail and in trail towns along the way helps reconnect veterans with the community and each other;

Call the Show! 1-207-370-9797

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Poison Ivy

How To Avoid Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

You’re on the trail to have fun but tread lightly because misery could be right around the corner disguised as an innocent looking plant. Learning to identify plants like poison ivy is a valuable skill for anyone venturing into the backcountry.  In this post you’ll learn

  • about the symptoms of poison ivy
  • natural treatments available,
  • how to identify poison ivy and
  • most importantly how to avoid it!

After-all, steering clear in the first place can save you from days of itchy misery.

Symptoms: How Do You Know if You Have It

If you do come in contact with Poison Ivy you’ve actually come in contact with an oily substance called Urushiol. It’s your sensitivity to Urushiol that causes the skin irritation and other symptoms associated with Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy symptoms generally show up within 24 to 48 hours after contact and can vary from mild itching to, rashes, blisters, redness, swelling and even fever!  The Mayo Clinic says you should see your doctor if:

When to see a doctor

  • The reaction is severe or widespread
  • The rash affects your face or genitals
  • Blisters are oozing pus
  • You develop a fever greater than 100 F (37.8 C)
  • The rash doesn’t get better within a few weeks

Natural Relief From Poison Ivy

If your symptoms are not so severe that you should seek medical attention there are some natural options for the symptoms of poison ivy you could try before moving on to other options.


Believe it or not Oatmeal can have a soothing effect on itchy skin. Make a thick batch so that it’s very pasty and can be applied to the affected area. Let it cool (do not apply hot or you’ll burn your skin) and spread it on your skin.

Banana Peel

It’s been said (mostly by old wives :-) ) that rubbing the inside of a banana peel on itchy skin can also have a soothing effect on the skin. The Global Healing Center has a list of other all natural remedies for soothing the pain and irritation caused by Poison Ivy as well.

How to Avoid Poison Ivy

My friends over at Treks in the Wild put together this awesome infographic on how to identify poison ivy and they were nice enough to let me share it with you! How to Identify Poison Ivy - Infographic Infographic authored by Treks In The Wild. To view the original post, see the original How to Identify Poison Ivy.


On your next outdoor adventure have fun, stay on the trail and avoid the poison ivy! Save your oatmeal for breakfast! Join over 2000 other happy subscribers of the Outside Health and Fitness Newsletter to get more tools and resources for Getting Outside and In-Shape! [wysija_form id="11"]

Yoga Asanas

How to Relax and Rejuvenate with Yoga Asanas

Yoga Asanas – A great way to relax and rejuvenate!

by Sameena

yoga asanasHuman life has become increasingly complex as we are now carrying an increasing load of desires and ambitions. We aspire to earn more wealth and get rich and famous quick.

But where does this leave us? Most of us are burnt out in our thirties and start a cycle of diseases and disability, as soon as we are in our twenties! Even the best medicines are proving to be unsatisfactory to alleviate most medical conditions, today. So, we see a great revival of interest in traditional systems of health and healing like yoga and energy healing. And we think that it’s about time that this happened!

Yoga- A gift to mankind:

The ancient Indian chronicles produced by wise men like Patanjali have given the most successful yet safe therapies to heal difficult ailments. The recent global popularity and acceptance of yoga asanas and pranayams has been mainly because of their proven potential to treat conditions like stress and the more serious depression, which has become common throughout the world! There are dedicated yoga asanas which can bring down the stress quotients by relaxing the body, mind and soul. There is nothing better than yoga for relaxation.

How do yoga asanas work?

Yoga has been devised with great intrinsic finesse so as to work for all the dimensions of the human body. The fathers of this healing and wellness system have dug deep to decipher the fine generic interrelationships between the three basic elements- fire, water, and air. Yoga asanas and pranayams have been thus intricately and brilliantly articulated to deliver optimum benefits!

When the right synergism is established between mind, body and soul, relaxation in true terms is experienced, thus relieving the patient. While researchers are still working to decipher the real equations involved in establishing balance in the body, the sages and yoga experts have done really well to popularize the correct postures and processes for achieving the same, almost thousands of years back. More and more people are turning to yoga because of its benefits that are being leveraged, especially for stress reduction and relaxation.

The Iconic Asanas:

While yoga is a whole diversified body of traditional knowledge, some specific asanas have gained prominence as they can really alleviate stress conditions and relax the human mind and body! These are:–

Padmasna: – One of the simple asana to begin with, it simply involves a sitting posture with both legs folded one over the other. A state of calm is recommended while doing this asana, that is an indispensable element for every asana of yoga. The state of mental calm acts as the fundamental support structure to generate the intrinsic benefits. Eyes should be closed in Padmasna.

Shavasan: – The word ‘shava’ is the Hindi translation for corpse! The person is directed to lay down flat on his back on the floor in a state of complete calm. In other words, the person has to mimic a corpse or shava. Hands should be left loose and feet placed right straight yet loose. It is generally recommended as an end up maneuver after different yoga asanas.

Bhujangasan: – A stretch cum relaxation posture where upper half is lifted above the ground while lying on the stomach. It rejuvenates and strengthens the upper body muscles.

Balasan: – It is also a stretching posture that gradually opens up the muscular system of the body, thus increasing the body’s potential to do more work!

Dradhasan: –It is straight sitting posture that helps maintain mental and body synergism and relaxes the body gradually.

Marjariasan: – A perfect bending posture series that completes the stretch maneuvers in a safe and effective way!

The benefits of yoga are drawing more and more people to it. This traditional therapy not only promises significant wellness but also long term health maintenance!

Some of the major tangible benefits of yoga are:

Relieves stress: – Through vibrant positive resonance between the elements of the body!

Reduces tension: – By establishing peace and mental calm, yoga brings down tension.

Improves concentration: – Proven cognitive benefits like memory and concentration are achieved.

Clears the mind: – The postures coupled with some pranayams helps clear the mind of unwarranted chemicals and stress hormones accumulations.

Rejuvenates: – A wholesome rejuvenation and refreshment is felt!

Yoga is truly a knowledge that should be incorporated more and more into our stressful schedules to calm and rejuvenate our stressed –out bodies and mind.


Sameena has just finished with her post graduation and has been using these yoga poses for relaxation to calm nerves before exams for quite some time. This practice has had a positive impact on her life.


Funky Fitness Fads

Top 10 Funky Fitness Fads

Funky Fitness Fads

Admit it either you’ve fallen for or you know someone who’s fallen for one of those Fitness Fads before. We all want to believe that the latest and greatest thing to come down the fitness highway is the one that will change everything and get us in the best shape ever.

In this episode of the Outside Health and Fitness Podcast I am super excited to welcome my friend Jessica Bailey back on the show to review the Top 10 Funky Fitness Fads from the past.  Jessica (who also runs the Sassygirl fitness blog) and I had a blast putting together this list of fads, programs and gear. Maybe you’ve heard of some, maybe you’ve purchased some and maybe we even found a few you never heard of.

Call the Show! 1-207-370-9797

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Support The Show:

Patreon is a great service that allows you to support the show and enjoy exclusive rewards! You get:

  • Advance Release Episodes – hear the show before anyone else!
  • Exclusive access to my private google+ group and experts from the show
  • Free eBooks and more….

Pledge any amount per episode and set a monthly limit. Your pledge helps pay for media hosting, web hosting and the other expenses that go into producing the show and allows me to continue bringing you fantastic guests with valuable information every week. Thank you so much for helping out!

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Climb Up What You Ski Down

“Climb Up What You Ski Down” A Backcountry Life Lesson

Backcountry Skiing’s Number One Rule

Climb up what you ski down

Steve & Brian skiing Mt. Washington NH.

It was 1998 and I was backcountry skiing with my friend Brian. We had skinned the Tuckerman Ravine trail with the intention of skiing the Right Gully. Skinning is skiing up hill with the assistance of synthetic climbing skins that attach to the bottom of your skis, Both Brian and I are Telemark skiers so with our heels free in the bindings it’s possible to ski uphill with a sort of waking or shuffling motion.

Once we got to the ravine it was apparent to both of us; this was not going to be an epic day of skiing. The conditions were terrible! It was cold and the snow was hard like cement. [cryout-pullquote align="right" textalign="center" width="33%"] “He went over the lip and dropped about 20 feet to a ledge below.”[/cryout-pullquote]Some skiers call it “bulletproof” because it’s so hard. No carving or beautiful tele turns today, this was going to be survival skiing at best.

We talked and decided we would climb the Right Gully but only up as high as we felt safe. We knew from experience with conditions like this there was no way we were going all the way to the top. We began climbing by kick stepping while carrying our skis.

Kick stepping is a slow and deliberate process. You kick one toe of your hard teleboot into the side of the slope to create a platform. Once you have a firm platform in place you transfer your weight to that foot, then kick your next step with the other. It’s an excellent technique because you have a chance to rest with each step and an opportunity to survey the slope.

As we continued to climb we noted the conditions were not improving and as the angle of the slope increase it was clear that we’d be pushing our luck to climb much higher. After a few survival turns in the Right Gully Brian and I stood together and agreed we had made a good decision not to climb higher. Brian tapped my shoulder and pointed to a snow boarder traversing above the headwall about halfway between the summit of Mt. Washington and the ravine. We knew he was way too high on the mountain for conditions like this.

Too High On the Mountain

As we watched, he lost his edge and slid toward the headwall. He went over the lip and dropped about 20 feet to a ledge below. He laid there and was not moving. We were stunned and didn’t know what to do. Climbing that high in the ravine on a day like this, with no equipment was well beyond our abilities.

We skied down toward the ravine and spotted a ranger on the slope. We told him what we had seen. “Yes, I saw that too and I’m still watching him” he brought his binoculars up and took a look. “It doesn’t look like he’s moving. Either he gets down on his own or we’ll get him in the spring.” I was shocked by what he said and he must have seen it on my face. “Look, I hope the kid is ok but I am not risking my life or other peoples lives to go get him. He made a bad decision to be up there and he needs to get himself down. That’s just the way it is.”

Brian and I skied to the floor of the Ravine. By the time we reached lunch rocks the boarder had started moving and was slowly climbing down. Everyone in the ravine was watching him now. It looked like he was ok but still not out of the woods. He had a long, slow and tense climb ahead of him and he was going too need to take it slow and easy.  

Climb Up What You Ski Down

It’s a best practice in the backcountry to climb up what you ski down, look for hazards and note other aspects of the terrain in order to avoid surprises. Tuckerman Ravine is a “no fall” zone meaning a fall could send you all the way to the bottom out of control. Surprises are not something you want to encounter on your decent.

This experience reinforced a primary rule of backcountry skiing for me.  Any time I’m faced with a problem that involves limiting risk whether it be in the backcounty, at work, or in my personal life I think about how “Climb Up What You Ski Down” applies. 

Always climb up what you’re going to ski down really means to go slow, be deliberate and access all the information to limit your exposure. This is how Brian and I approached our trip that day. We made a good decision and, while still a risk to ski the ravine, we limited the risk based on what we we saw as we climbed. The boarder clearly hadn’t followed and maybe didn’t even know this rule and he found himself up high and in a very dangerous situation.

When you venture into the backcountry or have an important decision to make remember to “climb up what you ski down”. You’ll make safer, smarter and better decisions.

What’s the most important rule you follow in the backcountry? Share a comment below.

Strong Back 800

How to Keep Your Back Strong for Outdoor Sports

How to Keep Your Back Strong

No matter what your favorite outdoor sport is you rely on your back and your core to perform. Too often bikers, hikers, runners and other outdoor athletes complain about low back pain associated with their activity. In this episode of the Outside Health and Fitness Podcast I am so excited to bring you my conversation with Dr. Barry Goodman. Barry is an outdoor athlete and knows first hand how to keep your back strong for outdoor sports.  As a Chiropractor with over 30 years of experience he’s seen it all.

On today’s show you’ll learn:

  • sport specific stretches you can do before and after your next hike, bike ride or ski trip to warm up and cool down properly;
  • …how to strengthen your core and the muscles that protect your back;
  • …how to take care of your back when you’re being active and having fun outside.

Call the Show! 1-207-370-9797

Support Outside Health and Fitness

Support The Show:

Patreon is a great service that allows you to support the show and enjoy exclusive rewards!

You get:

  • Advance Release Episodes – hear the show before anyone else!
  • Exclusive access to my private google+ group and experts from the show
  • Free eBooks and more….

Pledge any amount per episode and set a monthly limit. Your pledge helps pay for media hosting, web hosting and the other expenses that go into producing the show and allows me to continue bringing you fantastic guests with valuable information every week.

Thank you so much for helping out!

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Outside Health and Fitness in the News

Top Health and Fitness Podcasts

PodcastRx.pdfWe made the paper! I was very excited when I was contacted by the Vail Daily to be featured in an article they were writing on top health and fitness podcasts. In the article Rosanna Turner writes about several podcasts including Outside Health and Fitness. She reviews the quick and dirty tips series featuring Get-Fit Guy, Nutrition Diva and House Call Doctor’s Quick and Dirty Tips. She reviews Able James show and Wellness Mama (fitness for families).



Here’s what Rosanna had to say regarding Outside Health and Fitness:

As a freelance writer, I spend my nights writing and part of
my day dog walking. The hours I spend with my four-legged
friends give me time to peruse podcasts on my iPhone and
learn new things just by listening. As a contributor to High Life Health for
three years now, I always have my ear out for interesting health topics and
fitness trends. I’ve yet to write a story on how to improve your health simply by putting your headphones on, but with podcasts you could do just that.
There are many people in the podcast world offering free advice, interesting
insights and important information on everything from ways to boost your
metabolism to the potential benefits of letting your kids run around barefoot.
As podcasts have become more popular, there are plenty to pick from and even more to skip. Here are some of the best health and fitness podcasts to listen to and learn from:

It was an honor to be mentioned along with these other top podcasts in the Vail Daily. If you’d like to read the entire article I have it posted here. For more of my favorite podcasts check out my top ten list.

What are your favorite health and fitness podcasts?Please share in the comments below.