Out of the gym and into the fresh air!

Out of the gym and into the fresh air!

The name has changed, the recipe’s the same: just as junk has morphed into “shabby chic”, fitness trails and vita parcours have given way to boot camps. The idea’s quite simple: to get men away from the barbecue and women off the sunlounger, you organise outdoor activities for the fitness-conscious on school playgrounds, commons and playing fields, in the woods or by the lake.

Uncool is the new cool

Folks used to hate exercising in the gym. But what was the height of uncool is now unbelievably popular. People are paying to run around in nature – actually a free commodity – with a trainer to make sure they don’t throw in the towel.

Military origins

The boot camp has its origins in the US military. It’s a short training camp where young recruits are stretched to the limit to see if they have what it takes to be a soldier or marine. Later the name was adopted for tough disciplinary camps for criminals or juvenile delinquents. In eSports the term refers to a training camp where players study strategy, train and prepare for competition.

Steps used as steppers again

Boot camps are mostly held outdoors in groups led and chased around by an instructor. There’s no need for special equipment, as the trainers know exactly what features of the surroundings can be used to get participants in shape. People have returned to nature. Steps are used as steppers, the hilly programme on the treadmill has given way to forest trails with real ups and downs, and park benches, lampposts and fallen tree trunks have replaced machines and weights.

Up to three boot camps a week

Personal trainers and smaller fitness centres rediscovered outdoor training quite a while back. In the city of Lucerne, for example, many exercise experts now move outdoors during the summer months, offering everything from yoga at the open-air pool to zumba by the lake and capoeira in the park. There are various groups that get together at different stations, and employees of large companies go running together several times a week.

So it’s no wonder the big fitness chains are following suit. Two of the three Migros Fitness Parks in Lucerne and Zug offer up to three outdoor training sessions a week. Not so in the Zurich area, where none of the five Fitness Parks offer anything of the sort so far. It’s different in eastern and northern Switzerland, where local Fitness Parks in Winterthur, St. Gallen and Basel have also discovered the benefits of outdoor training. For once, Bern and French-speaking Switzerland find themselves in the same boat as Zurich, and are still offering all their courses indoors in their own purpose-built premises.

Source: BGB Schweiz, GymNess 02/2017