Take it Outside – Fitness for those craving fresh air

Is your fitness routine a little too routine? As the warm weather arrives, going into a fluorescent-lit gym can feel just…wrong. For those who crave being outdoors and love a good work-out, there are lots of options that combine fitness and fresh air.

Before you join a new outdoor fitness class, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, find an activity that you enjoy. Next, find an instructor who is certified, approachable, and who treats you with respect and kindness. Really good instructors are able to modify the level of challenge they provide, to make sure that you don’t get hurt. In some cases, an instructor might tell you that their boot-camp isn’t appropriate for your fitness level. Don’t be deterred by that. Be thankful! Finding the right balance between being challenged and being able to walk the next day might require some shopping around, but the research is worth it. Other considerations will be class sizes, equipment required, scheduling, amenities (like washrooms and places to change) and pricing. 

Here are a few interesting local options to consider:


Many local personal trainers and gyms offer outdoor boot-camps. Named after the gruelling basic training that army recruits undergo, most boot-camps are designed for fit people who want to get fitter. They are usually intense, and often combine periods of cardio with strenuous muscular activities like push-ups and burpees.


Zumba is a combination of Latin Dance and aerobic fitness which is fun, rhythmic, and challenging. For the last few years, the Newmarket Farmer’s Market has hosted a free outdoor Zumba class from 8-9am on Saturday mornings in June, July and August. Peter Geibel, a broker with Main Street Realty in Newmarket sponsors the class, which is taught by instructors from The Move Fitness and Dance Studio. He says, “When it first started, there were only about three of us that attended, but now it’s extremely popular.” Updates can be found on the Facebook page “Free Zumba Classes at the Market.”

Nordic Pole Walking

This unique take on walking utilizes 90% of all body muscles, can help eliminate back, neck and shoulder pain and is much easier on the joints than many other higher impact aerobic activities. Local nutritionist and fitness advocate Shawn Nisbet offers free Nordic Pole Walking clinics in Aurora at Sheppard’s Bush every other weekend, as well as regular classes on technique. She welcomes people of all ages and fitness levels.

Dragon Boat Racing

The Richmond Hill Canoe Club runs a variety of courses on Lake Wilcox, which is located in Oak Ridges. One of the options is Dragon-boat Racing. As long as you are over 15 you can sign up for an introductory course, or commit to training once a week and compete in a regatta. All the necessary equipment is provided and the focus is on learning basic skills, safety and teamwork.

Learn to Run

Many local running stores offer free learn-to-run clinics and running groups. For example, Running Free on Main Street in Newmarket has group runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30pm, rain or shine. It’s a good idea to get in touch with the store prior to turning up for the first time to check out the level of fitness required. Learn-to-run sessions usually start with walking and gradually build up the distance and intensity. As the summer progresses the groups travel further and faster, so finding the right group is key.

Our local community offers so many options to help you stay healthy and active. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Exercise doesn’t have to feel like a chore. 

by Elaine Jackson

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