Outdoor Boot Camps: 7 Tips to Consider for Success and Enjoyment

Now that it’s Spring, I’m sure you are looking forward to taking your fitness classes outdoors for the warm months.

Outdoor boot camps can be a blast because they allow your participants the opportunity to burn it outdoors one to three times per week throughout the summer months. While it’s fun to work out in the sun, there are seven things to consider and take into account before and during your outdoor boot camp to ensure it runs smoothly, is fun, safe, and enjoyable for everyone.

Location is key

Public parks are optimal for outdoor boot camps because they are situated in flat-lying areas. That said, you can’t just set up your equipment and start teaching in any park. Most, if not all parks are managed by a governing body and so group fitness class instructors are required to have a permit in order to teach fitness classes.

Once you have chosen a park for your boot camp class, check your city’s parks and recreation website and see how you can apply for and obtain a permit.

Set a schedule

Determine a schedule for your class. Mornings and evenings are ideal times for an outdoor boot camp class, especially during the summer months as the air is cooler and neither you nor your participants run the risk of getting a heat-related illness. Also, early mornings and evenings are best for most people as those times generally don’t interfere with their work schedule.

Another thing to keep in mind: The park’s schedule. Parks are popular places for festivities, weddings, and sporting events throughout the summer months. Know when those events take place and plan your boot camp accordingly.

Equipment you will use 

As you plan your outdoor boot camp program, know which type of equipment you will need.  That all depends on which type of classes you will be teaching. If you’re a start-up business owner who isn’t contracted by or affiliated with any gym, you may want to consider starting out by creating a program that involves a variety of bodyweight exercises or with minimal equipment (dumbbells, sandbags, resistant bands, resistant tubes, etc…) where you can partner off participants. It all depends on your budget.

If you plan on using a variety of equipment for your outdoor boot camp, be sure to shop around for the best deals but make sure that the equipment you purchase is in tip top condition, especially if you are buying it online. Avoid using any equipment that is homemade or worn out as the likelihood of those being damaged and causing injury is highly likely.

Footwear

Make sure that you have the proper footwear for your program, even though you will be demonstrating all exercises, but not actually doing them. Also, make recommendations for proper footwear and other attire to your participants.

Keep your eye on the weather

Check the weather forecast and air quality daily. Don’t hold classes outdoors on days where there is high air pollution or where there is a high pollen count.

Unfortunately, outdoor boot camps can be unpredictable as they are dependent on the weather.  Not every day of the summer will be hot and dry, so it’s important to have a back-up plan, a gym or other facility where you can hold your classes in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. Don’t proceed with your boot camp class outdoors during or immediately after a rainfall as both you and your participants run the risk of getting injured.

Inspect the area

Arrive at least a half an hour before each class and check the park for animal feces, garbage, glass, any other unwanted materials and remove any and all if found (with latex gloves of course, so don’t forget to bring them just in case).

If the ground in the area of park where you plan to hold classes is uneven or is full of patchy grass and small, loose stones, relocate your class to another area of the park.

Beware of insects

Another thing to be mindful of, especially during the summer months, is insects. In any case, always bring with you a first aid kit and insect repellent, or instruct your participants to bring insect repellent. 

If you discover a wasp nest or anthill nearby, cordon off that area with cones or another marker if you have one and tell all of your participants to keep away from there. Even better, set up your boot camp in another area of the park.

Yes, it’s work to plan, prepare, and organize an outdoor boot camp and it takes a lot of effort to make it a success, especially when taking into account all of the above mentioned. Though, hard work, combined with a positive attitude and effort to create an environment that is safe and fun for everyone will maximize everyone’s level of enjoyment and also your success as a fitness instructor.

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