Outdoor boot camps can be a blast because they allow your participants the opportunity to burn it outdoors once or twice a week throughout the summer months. While it’s fun to work out in the sun, there are six 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 all your participants and is a success for you.
Location is key. Public parks are optimal for outdoor boot camps because they are situated in flat-lying areas. However, 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.
Determine a schedule for your boot camp 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 other 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 need. That all depends on which type of classes you will be teaching. If you are a start-up business owner who is not contracted by or affiliated with any gym, you may want to consider starting out by creating a program that involves a variety of body weight 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. Do not use any equipment that is homemade, worn out or damaged.
Ensure that all of your participants, as well as those newcomers who drop in occasionally throughout the duration of your boot camp, have good quality footwear that is appropriate for your fitness program. Also, be sure to offer progressions and regressions of every exercise to accommodate people of all fitness levels.
Check the weather forecast and air quality. Don’t hold classes outdoors on days where there is high air pollution or where there is a high pollen count. Also, don’t exercise on days that are excessively hot and humid.
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 is important to have a back-up plan, a gym or other facility where you can hold your boot camp class in case the weather does not cooperate. Do not 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.
Arrive at least a half an hour before each class and check the park for animal feces, garbage, glass and 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.
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. If not, 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. However, hard work, combined with a positive attitude and desire to create an environment that is safe and fun for both you and your participants will maximize everyone’s level of enjoyment and also your success as an outdoor boot camp instructor.