So summer is well and truly over. From basking in a mini heatwave only a few weeks ago, we now find ourselves being battered by wig-worrying gale force winds, deluged by sudden storms and flash flooding. At times like this, it becomes even more difficult to force yourself to go outside and get some exercise. It’s much easier to inure yourself against the violent threats of the weather and stay inside, tucked up in the warm with a cup of something hot and good box set.
At this time of year, the appeal of gyms for getting our fitness fix begin to make much more sense than at the height of summer. You don’t have to worry too much about layering up clothing, about expensive waterproof jackets, or which shoes would be the right choice for the constantly changing conditions. You simply turn up, stand around pointlessly whilst someone sits on their phone on whatever piece of equipment you were planning to use, blissfully unaware of the existence of anyone other than themselves. Then you quickly get bored, go home and watch a good box set.
Despite our best intentions it’s hard to get in shape or indeed stay that way throughout the autumn and winter. It’s cold, wet, and windy. It’s dark before you’ve even finished work. It’s hard to motivate yourself to suit up, go to the outside and push your body beyond its comfort zone. Your inner chimp is strong. He’s telling you to take it easy, to stay inside in the warm, and he’s invariably winning the argument.
Outdoor adventures at this time of year require so much more planning than the gym, such as the packing of provisions, coats, hats, and gloves (just in case). If you’re planning on going for a run, a cycle or a hike, they require careful consideration when it comes to routes; somewhere not too muddy, somewhere not too exposed to wet and windy conditions. The gym requires no such fore site.
Having been a regular gym goer for many years, I’m currently without a gym membership for the first time in a long while. At my previous place of work, we were lucky enough to have a gym on site, so I was able to go every lunchtime, or pop in for a quick session before or after work. Making the gym part of your everyday routine can be a great way to break up the monotony of the average workday. It’s a good excuse to get away from the desk and get active. But it’s all too easy to fall out of that habit. To tell ourselves we’re too busy to spare an hour away from our desks, you’ve got too much work to do, no one else is taking a lunch break so you shouldn’t either. Suddenly you find yourself struggling to find the motivation to go back, because you know it’s going to be bloody hard work, will hurt like hell and you’ll struggle to move for days afterwards. Gyms are an ok place to spend an hour or so, but is there a better alternative?
Gyms can be very introspective places. We don’t talk to strangers, they’re not really a place we go to meet people, to interact, to chat or have a laugh, they are singular of purpose, you go there to get fit and/or look good. Or to snap a picture of your own bottom in a mirror. For that, they do the trick quite nicely. In the gym we’re surrounded by people, but so often alone. Alone, but without solitude. In contrast, a winter run across the Dorset hills can at times leave you feeling like the last person on earth, unlikely to bump into anyone for mile after mile.
Also, if you have kids, gyms aren’t exactly the greatest way to get active as a family. As difficult as it can be to get children active these days, it’s often well worth the effort once you’ve managed to drag them away from the comfort of their phones, or the TV. Moody, monosyllabic teens are suddenly transformed into happy, chatty young people, eager to share stories of school, or to talk about films or music. There’s usually less whinging about the weather than you might think once you’re outside.
Spending time in the great outdoors can also be great for our mental health, even a gentle walk on a windy autumn day if enough to lift the mood, as well as offer up some wonderfully unexpected photo opportunities.
In gyms, online and in social media, we’re continually bombarded by images of how the supposedly perfect body should look, creating unrealistic expectations that can be difficult or even impossible to live up to. The outdoors can offer a refreshingly different take on fitness, providing the chance to get back to basics, enjoy some fresh air and exercise in beautiful surroundings. It offers the opportunity to spend time alone, together, or with family. Outdoor adventures can be thrilling, exhilarating, exhausting, and life-affirming, can we honestly say the same about the average gym session?
The gym has its place. Any exercise is better than no exercise, and anything that allows us to get active, blow off some steam, and boost our endorphins can only be a good thing. But when was the last time the buzz of a good gym session kept you awake at night as you replayed it in your mind?
If you’re looking for a great way to get active as a family, try something different and have a laugh, why not pay us a visit at Dorset Adventure Park?
Here, you’ll be able to get active in ways the you can’t even dream of in the local gym, as you combine climbing, scrambling, hauling, wading, swimming and even squelching, in either our water park or on our mud trail. We’re also a great half term activity, particularly at this time of year when the weather can’t make up its mind what it wants to do. The great news is that we’re not affected by the adverse weather, in fact, the wetter and muddier; the better! And, don’t forget, we’re only weeks away from our Zombie Run in early November, another great way to combine fitness and thrills in the great outdoors.
We hope to see you here for some wet and muddy fun very soon.